UK Immigration Figures – 2019


As one of London’s top immigration law firms, it is our duty to analyse and update ourselves and our clients about the changes in UK immigration laws and also stay up to date on UK immigration figures year after year.

Accurate figures on UK immigration are taken from the Office for National Studies (ONS) and the readings are taken on a yearly basis from September to September. 

The last set of figures for 2019 show that last year was a big year for UK immigration where the country had the highest record of non-EU immigration since immigration records began in 1975. 

General UK immigration trends from September 2018 – September 2019

For EU migrants, the ONS study showed that net migration from the EU to the UK for the year ending in September 2019 was only a total 64,000. This was slightly higher but similar to the figure in 2018 which was just 57,000 but nonetheless a decline since the UK referendum on leaving the EU in 2016.

For non-EU migrants, the study showed that there has been a significant rise in UK immigration figures across all visa categories, where a total number of 379,000 people have been recorded to enter the UK from non-EU countries which is the highest on record since the records began in 1975 when it was 93,000.

This rise is linked to a larger number of Tier 4 student visas that have been granted to international students coming to study at British education institutions. 

The rise in the number of Tier 4 Student Visas from September 2018 – September 2019

The UK has one of the best education systems in the world and is a country that is most desirable for many foreign students who have the opportunity to study here. 2019 has shown a strong rise in the amount of Tier 4 student visas issued and this follows the UK government’s decision in 2015/16 to scrap the cap on university student numbers and increase tuition fees to £9,250 a year for UK undergraduates.

The figures from the ONS show that a third or so of all non-EU migrants who arrived in the UK last year to study were from China which had 119,697 visas granted. Indian students were the 2nd group to recieve the most amount of Tier 4 Student Visas a year to September 2019 and this totalled 37,500 visas in 2019, an increase of 93% from 2018. 

Moreover, Saudi Arabia also had a rise in visas granted, recording a 12% increase on last year’s figures bringing its total number of visas to 9,123 and The US and Hong Kong with small rises totalling 14,987 and 9,095 visas granted in the year ending September 2019.

What do these figures mean?

EU Migrants

There has been a fall in EU migration since the referendum. In 2015, there were 218,000 EU citizens who came to the UK. Following a steep decline covering the time of the EU referendum in June 2016 and the immediate aftermath, the figure for the year to June 2019 was 48,000 – its lowest level during the whole of the 16 years covered by the latest ONS data. 2019 witnessed a slight spike up to 64,000 but in general, this is a decline on the figures of immigration from the European continent and it will be interesting to see how many EU citizens apply to come to live and work in the UK under the new points-based system which will be rolled out in January 2021. 

Non-EU Migrants

The rise in figures for 2019 for non-Eu migrants is linked to a higher amount of Tier 4 student visas which have been issued and this was, in fact, the first year where more non-EU migrants entered the UK on a Tier 4 student visa where there were a total of  253,111 rather than a Tier 2 work visa entrances which totalled 189,459. This shows that the UK has been very successful in attracting more and more migrants to and study here but it may be failing to attract enough people to come and work here. 

Ask an Immigration Solicitor London about these Upcoming Changes

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