There was a slight drop in net immigration to the UK from 255,000 in the year to September 2010 to 252,000 in the year to September 2011, latest statistics from Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
At this pace it seems unlikely that the coalition government will meet its objective of reducing the number to under 100,000 by the end of the parliament in 2015.
ONS statistics show that estimated total long-term immigration to the UK in the year to September 2011 was 589,000. This compares to 600,000 in the year to September 2010 and has remained at a similar level since 2004.
The estimated total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to September 2011 was 338,000. This is similar to 345,000 in the year to September 2010.
ONS statistics also show that the study remains the most common reason for migrating to the UK with 250,000 students in the country by September 2011. This is similar to 245,000 in the year to September 2010.
Some 671,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to December 2011, an increase of one per cent on the year to December 2010.
Separate Home Office statistics reveal what the Home Office described as “significant reductions in the number of visas issued.”
The figures, the Home Office said, show that the reforms introduced by the government are starting to bite.
The Home Office figures show that the number of Tier 4 student visas issued has decreased by 62 per cent in Jan-March 2012, compared to Jan-March 2011. For the year to March 2012 the number of student visas issued has decreased by 21 per cent compared to the year before.
Work visas are also down by 8% and family visas down by 16 per cent in the 12 months to March 2012, compared to the same period to March 2011.
The number of grants of extensions to stay has also fallen by 10 per cent for the year ending March 2012, compared to the year before.
Settlement also fell by a third in the year ending March 2012, compared with the previous 12 months.
In the year to March 2012 the number of visitor visas issued increased by nine per cent, while the overall number of visas issued excluding visitor and transit visas was down by 13 per cent for the same period.
“Our tough new rules are now making a real difference with a record 62 per cent drop in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, and overall falls in work visas, family numbers and people settling,” Immigration Minister Damian Green said. “As these policies start to bite we are seeing an end to the years when net migration was consistently on the rise. But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.”