Net migration to UK falls slightly, says ONS

Net migration in the UK has fell to 216,000 in December 2011 from 252,000 in December 2010, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

Latest Home Office statistics also reveal further reductions in the number of student and work visas issued – two of the main reasons for migration to the UK.

“We are now starting to see the real difference our tough policies are making, with an overall fall in net migration and the number of visas issued at its lowest since 2005,” Immigration Minister Damian Green said. “At the same time, there are encouraging signs that we continue to attract the brightest and best and to support tourism in the UK.”

Mr. Green renewed the promise that they’ll “continue to work hard to ensure that net migration is reduced from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.”

He said they are working on reducing the next migration “by improving the selectivity of our immigration system and increasing enforcement activity to prevent people coming into the UK illegally and removing those with no right to be here.”

The Home Office figures also showed that for the 12 months to June 2012, the latest period for which stats are available, the overall number of visas issued fell by 16% to the lowest 12 month total for which comparable data is available.

Over the same period the number of visit visas increased by 3%. Home Office said this shows that “we can control long term net migration while continuing to attract tourists and stimulate growth.”

For the year to June 2012 the number of student visas issued has decreased by 30% compared to the year before.

Work visas are also down by 7% and family visas down by 10% in the 12 months to June 2012, compared to the same period to June 2011.

The number of grants of extensions to stay has fallen by 11% for the year ending June 2012, compared to the year before.

Settlement also fell by a third in the year ending June 2012, compared with the previous 12 months, to the lowest level in the last five years.

Grants of settlement on a discretionary basis fell by 84% – this follows the completion of the review of a backlog of cases from before March 2007.

Home Office said that the 4% increase in Tier 2 visas issued in the last 12 months to June 2012, compared to the same period last year demonstrates they are attracting skilled workers.

Latest Home Office figures also show that admissions of Chinese visitors increased by 28% in 2011 compared to 2010.

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