East European Workers, overseas students not immigrants: Keith Vaz

Counting them as immigrants is endangering economic recovery

2nd September 2011: The UK should stop counting East European workers and overseas students among immigrants asserted Keith Vaz the senior most Asian origin MP. He added that these Europeans tend to be seasonal workers and most overseas students do not inhabit down in Britain.


Britain’s resolve on counting overseas students and seasonal European workers is blowing up immigration figures, creating an atmosphere against Indian and other non-EU skilled workers. It is also endangering economic recovery, asserted Keith Vaz the MP who heads the influential home affairs select committee.

The warning by MP came as figures released by the Office of National Stasticts (ONS)  showed the number of Polish –born people living in Britain as of last year was 532,000, far surpassing those who were born in Pakistan 431,000 and Ireland 405,000.

According to ONS, non-EU countries headed by China and India accounted for three in four of the 228,000 overseas students who came to Britain last year.

Currently, European workers are counted if they have stayed in Britain for 12 months. Indians continue to have the maximum numbers, with 693,000 of them living in Britain, but a grip on non-EU skilled migrants is being applied for the wrong reasons, said Vaz.

The flow in immigrants from Poland followed the taking over of eight East European countries to the European Union in 2004. By treaty, EU nationals are free to live and work in the 27 member-countries, so there is very little Britain can do about them.

The ONS figures showed the number of non-EU migrants coming into Britain with a definite job offer fell to 110,000 in 2010 – the lowest for six years.

In the meantime, net migration from Europe – the difference between those coming in and those who are leaving – jumped from 5,000 in 2009 to 40,000 last year.

The experts believe the movement from Europe ridicules the ruling coalition’s election pledge to bring down overall net migration to below 100,000.
Carlos Vargas-Silva of the Oxford University’s Migration Observatory said the sharp increase in Eastern European migrants put up the question, of whether government policies to cut net migration, from outside the EU may be motivating a demand for more EU workers.

Vaz elaborated the problem for the government was that East Europeans could not fill the skilled jobs, provided for people who are coming in from the Indian subcontinent.

He added that they were keeping out the very skilled people they need to help revive their economy. “If you take the student numbers out you have achieved your immigration targets.”

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