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Net migration continues at record levels: asylum applications rise but remain the smallest component

26 Nov 2015

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Net migration to the UK remains at record levels, standing at 336,000 in the year ending June 2015. Despite increased concern about the refugee crisis in Europe and a growing number of asylum applications in the UK, asylum remains the smallest component of UK immigration by some distance, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today.

The data – released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – showed that net migration in the year ending June 2015 was 82,000 higher than the year before, with increases driven by both EU and non-EU migration.

Continued economic growth and high levels of employment are likely to have contributed to this trend. Work remained the major reason for immigration to the UK, being cited by 294,000 or 46% of the 636,000 people who moved to the UK for at least a year in the year ending June 2015.

EU net migration continued to make up just under half of non-British net migration.

Asylum applications increased in the third quarter of the year to 10,156, compared to 6,903 in the same quarter of 2014. This brought asylum applications in the year ending September 2015 to 29,024—an increase of 19% year on year.

Despite the recent increase, asylum remains the smallest component of UK immigration after work, study and family unification. Total immigration of non-British citizens in the year ending June 2015 was 551,000.

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “Most the measures introduced over the last parliament to reduce net migration of workers, students and family members have now been in place for some years. At this point, changes in net migration are mainly being driven by economic factors like the success of the UK economy, rather than by new policies.”

Today’s data do not include the period since the UK began to resettle the first of the 20,000 Syrian refugees the government pledged to accept in September.

As a Migration Observatory commentary published earlier this week noted, the resettlement programme will have little impact on net migration, however.

Sumption added: “Despite an increase in the number of asylum applications in the UK over the summer, refugees and asylum seekers still represent only 5% of non-British immigration. Migration for work and study remain by far the largest categories.”

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