Migration continues to add to the UK population

Pictured: ONS field force interviewers speaking to travelers in the Channel Tunnel.

Today we’ve released our latest overall assessment of international migration to and from the UK. Fewer EU citizens are arriving but, as Jay Lindop explains, non-EU net migration is at the highest level since 2004.

Our latest quarterly migration report is the first we’ve published since launching the Centre for International Migration, which is modernising and improving the migration evidence base.

ONS is already using additional datasets from the likes of the Home Office and Higher Education Statistics Agency to develop its estimates alongside evidence from the International Passenger Survey.

The latest figures show that net migration, while relatively stable, continues to add to the UK population.

However, there are different patterns for EU and non-EU migration emerging. Due to increasing numbers arriving for work and study, non-EU net migration is now at the highest level since 2004. But in contrast, EU net migration, while still adding to the population as a whole, is at the lowest level since 2012.

Decisions to migrate are complex and people’s decision to move to or from the UK will be influenced by a range of factors.

What are the headline numbers?

Using all available data sources, our best assessment is that net migration continues to add to the population of the UK. An estimated 273,000 more people moved to the UK with an intention to stay 12 months or more than left in the year ending June 2018. Underlying this, 625,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 351,000 people left the UK (emigration).

Non-EU numbers increase

Non-EU net migration was the highest since 2004, with 248,000 more non-EU citizens arriving than leaving the UK. This was a similar level to that seen in 2011. Increases for both work and study have been seen in the most recent year, particularly for Asian citizens.

EU citizens continue to add to the overall population

The overall number of EU citizens coming to the UK continues to add to the population. An estimated 74,000 more EU citizens came to the UK than left. However, this was the lowest estimate for EU net migration since 2012.

Furthermore, net migration for EU8 citizens has seen a sharp decrease over the last 2 years and it is now estimated that 14,000 more EU8 citizens left the UK than arrived.

Fewer people coming here from the EU for a definite job

The number of EU citizens coming to the UK for work has continued to decrease. Initially this was driven by the numbers of EU citizens arriving to look for work falling, however this has now stabilised. In the most recent period we have seen a decrease in EU15 citizens coming with a definite job. Non-EU citizens coming to work has seen a gradual increase over the last 5 years.

Where can I get the full story?

The full quarterly migration release is available here. This is the first we have produced in a new, more user-friendly format.

What’s next for migration statistics?

As mentioned, the new Centre for International Migration is transforming the way it produces and delivers statistics. It is not just about providing numbers on how many migrants are coming to and leaving the country. Users are telling us they need more information on the impact migrants have while they are in the UK, including the sectors in which they work, the communities they live in and the impacts on public services such as the NHS and schools.

Our work is continually evolving and soon we’ll be publishing  our latest research into how linked administrative data can help us provide better information about migration and the impact migrants have while they are in the UK. We’ll be giving users the opportunity to provide feedback on our research and overall direction of travel, but more on that in my next blog.


Jay Lindop is Director of the Centre for International Migration at ONS