For the first time more Eastern European migrants, from countries like Poland, Latvia and the Czech Republic, are leaving the UK than arriving, according to Home Office figures published this week.
The trend marks a reversal in movement for the first time since large-scale immigration in Europe began in 2004 when the A8, or accession eight, countries joined the EU.
The then Immigration Minister famously estimated number of Eastern Europeans who would come to the UK was just 13,000. Since 2004 around 1,000,000 people have migrated from the former eastern bloc nations, the biggest movement in peacetime history.
But last year 45,000 A8 nationals arrived, compared with 57,000 departures.
The new EU members include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.
The overall net UK migration figure – the number of immigrants minus numbers emigrating – for the 12 months ending in September 2009 was 142,000, down from 160,000 for the same period the previous year.
The data comes from the International Passenger Survey of long-term international migration, a broad guide to migration movements.
The figures do not take into account adjustments for asylum seekers, people who stay longer or less than intended, and migration to and from Northern Ireland.
New British Citizens up 59%
The figures also show the number of people granted British citizenship last year is at its highest level since 2005.
In 2009, 203,790 people were given citizenship, up 59% from 129,375 the previous year.
There was also a 40% increase in the numbers given grants of settlement in the UK, Indefinite Leave to remain, and a 45% rise in those allowed to settle for employment reasons.
The citizenship and permanent residency figures reflect the rise in the numbers of working migrants who arrived in the last ten years and the threat of tighter rules on settlement under the recent Citizenship Act.
Home Office figures also showed that nearly a third of foreigners failed to pass the citizenship test, which tests migrants wishing to settle in the UK on British society, history and culture.
In this week’s Queens speech the coalition government has committed itself to introducing a cap on non-EU immigration, although the level has yet to be set.
Immigration minister Damian Green said the figures illustrated the scale of the immigration challenge facing the new government.
“I believe that immigration has been far too high in recent years which is why we will reduce net migration back down to the levels of the 1990s – to tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands,” he said.
New measures including a limit on work permits, actions on marriage and an effective system of regulating students who come to the UK would be introduced, he added. Source: BBC
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