Net Migration Falls after UK Brexit Vote, EU Applications Doubled

Net Migration Falls after UK Brexit Vote, Long-Term Trends

Applications from EU Citizens for UK Residence Doubled

Success and Rejection Rate, Student, Work and Asylum Applications from Romania, Bulgaria

This post relates to the latest migration figures from Oct 2015 to Sept 2016, and provides details of the following topics:

  • A) Net Migration | Fell by 49,000 | Oct 15 to Sept 16;
  • B) International Students | An Unexpected Fall of 41,000;
  • C) Applications from EU Citizens for UK Residence Documents more than Doubled during 2016;
    1. Overhauling Application Process;
    2. Work Applications during Oct 15-Sept 16;
    3. EU Citizens from Romania and Bulgaria;
    4. Referendum Campaign | Emigration and Hate Crime;
  • D) Asylum Applications fell by 1,451;
  • E) Government’s Reaction and Policy Stance;
  • F) Experts’ Viewpoint | Long Term Migration Trends;
  • G) Uncertainty and Migration from EU;
    • The most Pressing Issue is Not LESS Net Migration but Provision of Residence Documents to 3.5m EU Citizens;


A) Net Migration | Fell by 49,000 | Oct 15 to Sept 16

Net migration to the UK decreased by forty-nine thousand (49,000) to two hundred and seventy-three thousand (273,000) last year- from Oct 2015 to Sept 2016, according to official figures that include the three (3) months after the Brexit vote in June 2016.

The plunge in annual net immigration to below three hundred thousand (300,000) is the first tangible drop in the politically sensitive figure for more than four (4) years. And it may come as a relief to PM Theresa May, who has recently renewed her target to get it below hundred thousand (100,000).

The quarterly migration figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that on a yearly basis:

  • Immigration Decreased by 23,000 – Immigration fell by twenty-three thousand (23,000) to reach a leave of five hundred and ninety-six thousand (596,000) in the twelve (12) months to September 2016;
  • Emigration Increased by 26,000 – Emigration rose by twenty-six thousand (26,000) to reach a level of three hundred and twenty-three thousand (323,000) by the end of Sept 2016;

B) International Students | An Unexpected Fall of 41,000

A major component in the sudden and unexpected fall in New Immigration was an estimated forty-one thousand (41,000) drop in the number of international students coming to study in the UK, to hundred and thirty-four thousand (134,000), the lowest level since 2002.

The bulk of students coming to the UK were from outside Europe – i.e., eighty-seven thousand (87,000), down by thirty-one thousand (31,000). However, according to the ONS, the number of visas issued to non-EU students over the same period had risen by 2%, to reach a level of hundred and forty-one thousand (141,000).

C) Applications from EU Citizens for UK Residence Documents more than Doubled during 2016

The Home Office figures reveal that the number of EU nationals in Britain who had their applications processed for the UK residence documents to secure their status more than doubled. 

  • Number of Applications – Accordingly, the number of applications increased from ninety-two thousand two hundred and eighty-nine (92,289) in Oct 14-Sept 15 to two hundred one thousand and two eighty-seven (201,287) in Oct 15-Sept 16;
  • Successful Applications – More than hundred and forty thousand (140,000) were successful;
  • Refused Applications – The detailed figures show that more than forty thousand (40,000) applications for British residence documents from EU Citizens and their dependant family members were rejected during Oct 15-Sept 16. EU citizens need five (5) years’ continuous residence to qualify;
  • Invalid Applications – A further nineteen (19,000) applicants were advised that their applications were invalid;

1. Overhauling Application Process

According to media reports, the Home Office is planning to overhaul the application process, i.e., moving it online. 

Keeping in view the expected quantum of settlement applications from EU Nationals resident in Britain in the coming years, since the Brexit Vote, applying for residence has turned from a niche to a mainstream activity.

2. Work Applications during Oct 15-Sept 16

Work continues to be the primary driver for near-record levels of immigration, especially from within the EU, whose citizens accounted for hundred and eighty thousand (180,000) of the two hundred and ninety-four thousand (294,000) who had come to Britain to work in the year to September 2016.

  • Definite Job – As many as hundred and ninety thousand (190,000) people moving to the UK – the highest ever proportion at sixty-five percent (65%) – had a definite job to go to, including hundred and thirteen thousand (113,000) from Europe;
  • Looking for a Job – A total of hundred and four thousand (104,000) people, including fifty-one thousand (51,000) from the EU, came looking for a job;

3) EU Citizens from Romania and Bulgaria

Immigration from the EU included a nineteen thousand (19,000) rise in the number of Bulgarians and Romanians coming to live in Britain, to seventy-four thousand (74,000), the highest number in a single year. This was partially offset by a twelve thousand (12,000) increase in the number of Polish Citizens and other Eastern Europeans, who intend to go back home to live.

4) Referendum Campaign | Emigration and Hate Crime

The rise in emigration could be attributed to the highly publicised spike in hate crime during and shortly after the referendum campaign. The number of Eastern Europeans moving from the UK rose by nearly a third, to thirty-nine thousand (39,000).

D) Asylum Applications fell by 1,451

The figures also show the first yearly fall in asylum applications being made in the UK since 2010, with thirty-eight thousand five hundred and seventeen (38,517) claims lodged, a fall of fourteen hundred and fifty-one (1,451) over the corresponding previous year. However, during the period, four thousand three hundred sixty-nine (4,369) refugees were brought to Britain under Syrian Resettlement Scheme.

E) Government’s Reaction and Policy Stance

According to media reports, the Conservative Government is giving a cautious welcome to the drop in net immigration. The drop in net migration is encouraging for the policy stance of the government, but this is only one set of statistics, and the UK Government is not getting carried away. The Government is resolved to continue to make further progress to bring down net migration to tens of thousands.

The UK Government will continue to reform routes to the UK for non-EU citizens. Additionally, utilising the opportunity to control of immigration the EU as it begins Brexit Negotiations in the coming weeks and months. According to the government, the UK will always welcome those immigrants who contribute and benefit the British Isles; however, there is no consent for uncontrolled immigration either from EU or outside the EU.

F) Experts’ Viewpoint | Long Term Migration Trends

The point of view of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) is that the fall in Net Immigration is not statistically notable.

The Head of International Migration Statistics of ONS has the viewpoint that there is a fall in net migration from EU8 citizens (eight Eastern European Countries that joined the EU in 2004), but there is a continued increase in immigration from Bulgaria and Bulgaria. Therefore, it is pretty early to reach any conclusion regarding the effects of the referendum results on the long-term international migration to the UK.

According to statistics, there has been a significant decrease in non-EU long-term students immigrating to the United Kingdom while a modest increase in the number of study visas issued. It is quite early to explain that if this is an indication of any long-term trend.

Other migration experts also agreed to this opinion and stated that it was immature to tell whether the drop in net immigration was the start of a post-Brexit downward trend.

G) Uncertainty and Migration from EU

It is interesting to note that emigration of A8 nationals increased significantly at the same time as many EU citizens are scrambling to secure their resident status in the United Kingdom. Uncertainty is clearly a major issue for EU nationals in the present political environment.

The most Pressing Issue is Not LESS Net Migration but Provision of Residence Documents to 3.5m EU Citizens

At the moment the most pressing migration issue facing the UK Government is NOT Less Net Migration, but how to provide residence documents to 3.5 million EU citizens presently living in the United Kingdom.

Exactly how this process will work is not likely to be resolved until negotiations with the European Union will be initiated, but the present data reveals that EU citizens are increasingly keen to get the paperwork and resident documents sooner rather than at a later stage.

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Related Posts on EU Citizens in the UK Blog:

  1. UK Residence Card for EEA Family Member
  2. EU Citizens Living in the UK | Position Paper
  3. BREXIT Glossary Citizenship, CTA, EU Citizen, Free Movement, ILR
  4. EU Citizens Settled Status in UK: Application Process
  5. EU Citizens Rights After Brexit | Safeguarding EU Citizens in UK
  6. EU Citizens Rights in the UK After Brexit | Public Services
  7. Benefits for EU Nationals in UK After Brexit
  8. The Future of Brexit Deal after May 2017 UK Elections
  9. Status of EU Citizens in UK: Who Arrive After the Cut-off Date
  10. Status of EU Nationals: Who are UK Resident Before Cut-off Date
  11. BREXIT Avoiding a Cliff-Edge | Rights of EU Citizens in the UK
  12. A New Status in UK Law to Protect the Rights of EU Citizens in UK
  13. Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK
  14. Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens in UK: Summary Proposals
  15. Implications of PM Speech on Rights of EU Citizens Resident in UK
  16. Theresa May Speech June 26, 2017: Rights of EU Citizens in UK
  17. Implications of Brexit and EU Citizens in UK
  18. Brexit EU Citizens Resident Applications in the UK Rejection Rate
  19. EU Citizens Stand Firm Against Brexit Business Cannot Run
  20. EU Citizens Resident in UK Lobby for Post-Brexit Residency Law
  21. Zero Chance EU Citizens To Keep Same Rights After Brexit

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