Fewer EU citizens moved to the UK in last year as Brexit effect takes hold

by Ray Clancy on February 26, 2018

Brexit seems to have a major impact on the number of people arriving in the UK with official figures showing that net migration from European Union countries fell in the last year.

The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that fewer EU citizens are coming to the UK, down by 75,000, however, overall there are still more EU citizens coming to the UK than leaving.



The number of EU citizens coming to the UK for work related has fallen, in particular those coming to the UK looking for work, down by 58,000.

The data also shows that non-EU net migration increased by 40,000, up to a level last seen in 2016 with a significant growth in people coming from Asia, a rise of 21,000.

Overall, net migration was at a similar level to early 2014 with 244,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving, so still adding to the UK population. This followed record levels of net migration during 2015 and early 2016.

‘EU net migration has fallen as fewer EU citizens are arriving, especially those coming to look for work in the UK, and the number leaving has risen. It has now returned to the level seen in 2012,’ said Nicola White, ONS head of international migration statistics,

‘The figures also show that non-EU net migration is now larger than EU net migration, mainly due to the large decrease in EU net migration over the last year. However, migration of both non-EU and EU citizens are still adding to the UK population,’ she pointed out.

‘Brexit could well be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK, but people’s decision to migrate is complicated and can be influenced by lots of different reasons,’ she added.

Citizens from the EU15 and EU2 groups have driven the fall in EU net migration in the latest period, with the number of each group leaving the UK increasing and now at the highest levels recorded. There were also fewer EU15 and EU2 citizens arriving in the UK, down 24,000 and 18,000 respectively and the number of EU citizens arriving with a definite job saw a small decrease over the last year.

The latest figures for the year ending December 2017 show the total number of work related visas granted slightly increased to 165,131, a rise of 1%. The majority of these were Skilled (Tier 2) visas at 94,247.

Indian nationals accounted for over half of all skilled work visas granted, whilst 40% of sponsored visa applications were from within the Information Technology sector.

According to Jonathan Portes, a professor of economic and public policy at King’s College London, the fall in EU net migration was because the UK has become significantly less attractive for both economic and psychological reasons.

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