Reasons for net migration into the UK

The latest stats for UK net migration show an annual net migration of 260,000 (June 2014). This is roughly split between EU and non-EU migrants

  • 142,000 from EU
    • 44,000 of the EU are from the EU8 (most recent EU countries – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia)
  • 168,000 from non-EU (of which Commonwealth countries account for 62,000)
Reasons-for-migration-uk – ONS Migration study Nov. 2014
  • According to data by the ONS, the biggest reason for net migration into the UK is to pursue education studies. This accounts for 153,000 out of the net migration of 260,000 (Nov. 2014)
  • The second biggest reason is work related 61,000 – of which this is split into 41,000 definite job and 24,000 looking for work.
  • The third biggest reason is to join family already living in UK – 54,000
  • Other reasons 13,000 includes vague responses, such as ‘coming back to live’

Asylum seekers

  • Asylum applications (excluding dependants) rose from 4,256 in 1987 to a peak of 84,130 in 2002, and then declined to 23,507 in 2013. (Migration observatory)
  • In 2012, asylum seekers accounted for 10% of net migration
  • In 2013, the rate of asylum seekers in the UK as 0.47 asylum applicants per 1000 people The European level is 0.91 per 1000.

Reasons for migration depend on country of origin

Source: ONS migration


  • For recent arrivals (2007-11) study is one of main reasons for migration.
  • Employment and unemployment rates for UK citizens and EU migrants are very similar.

Employment status of migrants by country of Birth

There are big difference in the economic status of migrants, depending on country of birth. Chinese migrants are likely to be students (75.6%). This compares with Polish migrants where only 8.6% are students, but Polish migrants have the highest % in work (78.1%). Polish levels of employment are slightly higher than UK born residents.

Source: ONS migration


Migrants who have lived in UK for more than 30 years are more likely to be retired ‘other’ because of their different age profile. 30-years-migration

Additional facts of interest from ONS

  • Almost 9 in 10 non-UK born residents could speak English ‘well’ or ‘very well’.
  • Recent arrivals were more likely to report some kind of qualification (89%) than migrants who have lived 30+ years (68%)
  • 6 Facts about migration

Net migration into the UK




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2 thoughts on “Reasons for net migration into the UK”

  1. The overwhelmingly large proportion of net migration allegedly explained by “formal study” is odd. A typical degree course lasts 3 years at the end of which I would expect most immigrants to go home. If in fact a large proportion stay on in the UK, the “formal study” is not an accurate description of the reasons for the migration.

    A more accurate description would be something lijke “study with a view to converting that to permanent residence in the UK”.


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