The latest migration statistics were published today and I thought it would be helpful to pass on the details, which show the effect our reforms are having on net migration to the UK.
The key points are:
- Today’s statistics show another significant fall in net migration – down almost a third since the election.
- Net migration was 163,000 for the year ending June 2012, down from 247,000 in 2011 – a fall of 84,000. This is a positive sign that we are on the right track to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament.
- Of total immigration, 55% was from nationals outside the European Economic Area (EEA), 30% was from nationals inside the EEA and 15% was returning British citizens.
- For the 12 months to December 2012, the latest period for which stats are available, the overall number of visas issued fell by 10% (to 507,701) to the lowest 12 month total for which comparable data is available.
- For the year to December 2012 there were 20% (52066) fewer student visas issued compared to 2011.
- At the same time, there was a 3% increase in sponsored student visa applications for the university sector demonstrating our reforms have deliberately favoured universities and a 9% increase in study visas issued for Chinese nationals.
- There is no limit on student numbers; universities can apply their own language tests; and graduates can stay and work if they get a graduate level job. We continue to have a great offer to international students.
- Family visas are down by 10% in the 12 months to December 2012, compared to the same period to December 2011.
- There was a 3% increase in visas issued for skilled individuals under Tier 2 showing we are attracting the brightest and best to the UK.
- The total number of grants to extend to stay has fallen 12%. This fall was largely due to a fall in study-related grants. Our selective immigration system is breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration.
As well as reducing the overall numbers we also want to make the system more selective.
We have reformed all the routes of migration to the UK to make the system more robust and to bring net migration down to sustainable levels in the tens of thousands. We have reformed the student route, rooting out colleges failing to fulfil their immigration duties and closing the post-study work route so that only graduates offered a skilled job will be able to remain in the UK after their studies to work.
We have introduced a cap on economic migration at a level which does not hurt businesses and ensured that non-European unskilled workers cannot come to the UK. We have guaranteed proper transitional controls for any new EU accession states.
To tighten up the family route we have introduced an income threshold for anyone wanting to bring to the UK a foreign spouse from outside Europe, increased the minimum probationary period before non-European spouses can apply for settlement from two years to five years and abolished the right of immediate settlement for foreign spouses where the couple have been living together overseas for at least four years.
To ensure migrants to the UK can integrate better into our society we have strengthened the English language requirement and are enhancing the ‘Life in the UK’ test, which new migrants must take, to put British history and culture at its heart.
These latest figures show that the reforms we have introduced across all the major routes of immigration are working and that we are starting to see the impact on net migration. This government believes that net migration is still at unsustainable levels and that it will need to come down further. We have robust policies to make that happen and we will be unstinting in pursuing them.
Mark Harper MP