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UK Net Immigration Figures for 2023

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London Immigration Solicitors assess the immigration statistics 

The UK immigration figures for the preceding 12 months to June 2023 were released on 23 November 2023.

If you are a UK company with a Home Office issued sponsor licence or if you are in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa or Health and Care Worker Visa or in the UK on a family visa, such as a Spouse Visa or Dependant Visa, then some of the rhetoric you will hear over the next few days will be disturbing.

Our Immigration Solicitors look at the latest net migration figures to look at the trends.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For immigration law advice call London-based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Net UK migration figure for 2023

The Office for National Statistics reveals that the net UK migration figure for the 12 months until June 2023 was 672,000 people.

1.2 million people arrived in the UK and 508,000 emigrated leaving a net figure of 672,000.

Of the 1.2 million people arriving in the UK nearly a million (968,000) came from non-EU countries.

Is the 2023 UK net migration figure a new record?

Yes and no. It was but it is not now. Confused? If so, you will be one of many bemused by the statistics.

In 2022 the UK net migration figure was 606,000. You would therefore assume that the 2023 figure of 672,000 is a new record - even if you do not have a PhD in a STEM subject to help you do the math calculations.

However, the ONS has revised the 2022 net migration data. They now estimate the 2022 net migration figure was 745,000 people, an increase of 139,000 people over the original 2022 figure.

If the 2022 figure of 745,000 is accepted as the correct figure, then net UK migration has fallen by 73,000 people.

There is of course a but. Will the ONS revise the 2023 net migration figures upwards in 2024? Anything is possible and the net migration figure could either rise or fall from the released figures.

The ONS has said that the figure of 672,000 is their best estimate of UK net migration to the year ending June 2023 but the figure could be as high as 790,000 or as low as 520,000 people. We will not know until 2024.

The migrant definition for the statistics

A net migrant is a person who has entered the UK during the relevant 12-month period and who intends to stay in the UK for 12 months or longer.

You can see that the figures can get complicated and require adjustment as a person who arrives on a Fiance Visa may stay in the UK by applying for a Spouse Visa or a worker who arrived in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa may decide after a matter of months that the UK is not for them and return to their home country.

Who is leaving the UK?

The ONS has said that the 2023 emigration figure of 508,000 people is broken down into:

  • 42% of those leaving the UK were EU nationals
  • 39% of those leaving the UK were non-EU nationals
  • The remaining 18% were British nationals

Our Immigration Solicitors do not know how many out of the 215,000 EU nationals who left the UK in the year ending June 2023 were working in the UK in lower skilled type employment and who therefore cannot be replaced on work visas by UK employers. That is not possible because the UK points-based immigration system does not offer a lower skilled work visa route even if UK employers are unable to fill such posts by recruiting within the UK.

What happens next?

The new home secretary has reportedly said “ We do need to reduce our overall numbers by eliminating the abuse and exploitation of our visa system by both companies and individuals."

Our Immigration Solicitors expect more announcements and policy changes. It is already being suggested that those entering the UK on Health and Care Worker Visas should be restricted to bringing one family with them on a Dependant Visa or that the shortage occupation list should be abolished or the minimum salary threshold for those applying for Skilled Worker Visas or Health and Care Worker Visas should be raised.

These options are all fraught with difficulties and none are likely to find favour with care home and nursing home providers who desperately need to fill health care vacancies to care for the UK’s elderly and vulnerable population who either need residential care or properly resourced social care.

It does not take much to imagine the dilemma of Health and Care Worker Visa applicants forced to choose whether to bring one child and leave the other with extended family or apply for a work visa in a country where there are no such rules. Nor does the prospect of nursing homes being forced to put up fees for residents seem palatable if it is because sponsor licence holders are required to pay Health and Care Worker Visa applicants a higher minimum salary threshold to be able to provide the employee with a work visa.

We can all speculate on immigration rule changes and policy announcements but, for now, it is business as usual with one emphasis; if you want to recruit from overseas on Health and Care Worker Visas or Skilled Worker Visas or if you are an individual wanting to come to the UK, we would recommend that you get on with your plans without delay.  That is partially because of potential new immigration rules and because the immigration health surcharge is due to increase to £1,035 in around mid-January 2024.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For immigration law advice call London-based OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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