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commentary 31 May 2024

Q&A: The UK’s policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

This updated commentary answers some common questions about the Rwanda asylum policy and its implications, reflect the Supreme Court judgment that the Rwanda plan was unlawful, and the UK government's publishing of a new Rwanda treaty and bill.

commentary 28 May 2024

UK election 2024: immigration policy tracker

Compare Labour and Conservative party policy statements about immigration ahead of the 2024 election.

commentary 26 Apr 2024

The uncertain financial implications of the UK’s Rwanda policy

This commentary examines the financial impacts of the UK’s policy to send some asylum seekers and irregular migrants to Rwanda.

commentary 17 Apr 2024

International students entering the UK labour market

This analysis uses data provided to the Migration Observatory through freedom of information requests to look at what international students do in the UK after their studies.

commentary 05 Apr 2024

The ban on care workers’ family members: what will be the impact?

This commentary examines some of the main impacts we can expect because of the ban on care workers’ family members coming to the UK.

commentary 05 Apr 2024

Q&A: Immigration fees in the UK

This commentary answers some common questions about immigration charges and their implications.

commentary 01 Feb 2024

Family fortunes: The UK’s new income requirement for partner visas

This commentary analyses the series of changes to immigration rules designed to reduce net migration and their main implications.

commentary 31 Jan 2024

Licenced visa sponsors

This analysis provides information on the number of sponsors, how it has changed over time and the types of employers who are more likely to be sponsors using data from the UK register of licenced visa sponsors.

commentary 23 Jan 2024

UK policies to deter people from claiming asylum

This briefing note brings together statistics and research evidence to inform discussion about policy measures designed explicitly to deter people from seeking asylum in the UK.

commentary 06 Dec 2023

How will new salary thresholds affect UK migration?

This commentary discusses the Home Secretary's recently announced policy changes designed to reduce migration.

commentary 18 Oct 2023

Outstanding issues facing the EU Settlement Scheme

This commentary outlines three key challenges that remain with respect to the EU Settlement Scheme – late applications, the application backlog, and the potential for loss of status.

commentary 20 Sep 2023

Upward mobility? Earnings trajectories for recent immigrants

This analysis uses new data from HMRC to show how the size and earnings of the migrant employee workforce has changed over time in recent years.

commentary 26 Jul 2023

Why the government’s economic Impact Assessment of the Illegal Migration Act tells us little about the Act’s economic impact

This briefing note reviews the government’s Impact Assessment on the Illegal Migration Act 2023.

commentary 27 Apr 2023

Albanian asylum seekers in the UK and EU: a look at recent data

This short commentary outlines some key statistics about Albanian asylum seekers in the UK and the EU more broadly.

commentary 26 Apr 2023

Diminishing returns? Does the Illegal Migration Bill mean the government is giving up on returning refused asylum seekers?

This commentary examines the Illegal Migration Bill, which proposes to prevent the government from hearing people’s asylum claims if they entered the UK without authorisation.

commentary 13 Apr 2023

The Minimum Income Requirement for British Citizens Sponsoring Partners to Live With Them in the UK

This short note provides updated statistics relating to the minimum income requirement and who does and does not meet it.

commentary 03 Mar 2023

Settling the score? EU citizens’ rights after a landmark judgement

This commentary examines what has changed with the EUSS scheme and what that may mean.

commentary 21 Nov 2022

Why has non-EU migration to the UK risen?

This commentary examines why there has been an increase in non-EU migration to the UK and what we can expect over the coming years.

commentary 02 Jul 2021

Q&A: Migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats

Continued reports of migrants trying to reach the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats have intensified debate about unauthorised migration and asylum seeking. This Q&A reviews what we know about small boat arrivals in the UK.

commentary 28 Jun 2021

What Now? The EU Settlement Scheme after the Deadline

The EUSS deadline is not the end of the story. From July 1, EUSS moves to its next phase. This commentary outlines a few key issues and looks at what happens next.

commentary 08 Jun 2021

First data from the new immigration system

New Home Office data give a glimpse into the new post-Brexit immigration system. The data show low take-up of the new visa system among EU citizens, although as this commentary explains, it is still too early to judge the impact that the immigration system itself is having on EU migration.

commentary 23 Mar 2021

Integration in the UK and the Post-Brexit immigration system

This commentary outlines a few of the ways in which the landscape facing policymakers and practitioners working on migrant integration might change as a result of the new immigration system.

commentary 05 Feb 2021

Where did all the migrants go? Migration data during the pandemic

This commentary examines what we know from available data about how the total size of the migrant population has changed in 2020.

commentary 23 Nov 2020

Q&A: The new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa

This commentary answers some common questions about the proposed new policy of creating a special immigration route for British National (Overseas) citizens (BNOs) and its implications

commentary 11 Sep 2020

Recent estimates of the UK’s irregular migrant population

This commentary examines the findings of the Pew and GLA studies. It also looks at how these findings were produced, and highlights their high degree of uncertainty.

commentary 29 Jun 2020

Calculating the Bill: The projected impacts of the points-based immigration system after Brexit

This commentary looks at the government’s projected impacts of the post-Brexit ‘points-based’ immigration system.

commentary 24 Jun 2020

The new Immigration Bill: closing the door on freedom of movement

This commentary discusses the new immigration bill before Parliament and what it will mean if passed into law.

commentary 27 Apr 2020

Q&A: The UK’s new points-based immigration system after Brexit

This commentary answers some frequently asked questions about the planned immigration system and its potential implication.

commentary 23 May 2019

What Migration Statistics are needed for Public and Policy Debates about Migration?

Migration Observatory Response to the ONS Migration Statistics Engagement Report

commentary 19 Feb 2019

Where is UK labour migration policy heading after Brexit?

What can we say about where them immigration system is heading after Brexit? What questions remain unanswered?

commentary 16 Jul 2018

Measuring Success: Will We Ever Know How Many Eligible EU Citizens Did Not Apply for Settled Status?

Estimates of the numbers of EU citizens living in the UK are not precise.

commentary 20 Jun 2018

Accident and Emergency? The Move to Exempt Doctors and Nurses from the Tier 2 Cap

Looks at the implications of new plans to exempt doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap.

commentary 29 Mar 2018

Skilled Non-EU Migration: Is the Cap In Hand?

Illustrates the effects of a £60,000 threshold on eligibility for work visas in different high-skilled occupations

commentary 22 Jun 2017

Migration Observatory wins ESRC prize

The Migration Observatory was awarded the ESRC prize for Outstanding Impact in Society

commentary 21 Jun 2017

Brexodus? Migration and uncertainty after the EU referendum

Looks at what we know about migration to and from the UK since the EU referendum.

commentary 24 May 2017

Number 10 – the biggest number in the UK’s migration debate

Outlines the migration related policies presented by the three main national UK parties in their manifestos for the 2017 general election

commentary 04 May 2017

The net migration target and the 2017 election

Explains the policies introduced to reduce net migration since 2010 and reasons why the target has not been met.

commentary 21 Apr 2017

Pounded? Currency devaluation and migration to and from the UK

Examines the ways in which the devaluation of the pound after the EU-referendum can affect migration to the UK

commentary 22 Mar 2017

Article 50: Shades of grey, or black and white?

Provides key data and links to importance pieces in anticipation of Article 50 being triggered

commentary 23 Feb 2017

What to look for in the quarterly migration statistics after the referendum

Understanding the datasets that will inform the post-referendum debate on migration.

commentary 03 Aug 2016

Here today, gone tomorrow? The status of EU citizens already living in the UK

What will happen to the over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK?

commentary 09 Jun 2016

What would UK immigration policy look like after Brexit? (Pre-referendum)

It is not possible to know exactly how a vote to leave the EU would affect migration to the UK.

commentary 13 Apr 2016

Pulling power: Why are EU citizens migrating to the UK? (Pre-referendum)

What makes the UK such an attractive destination for migrants?

commentary 10 Mar 2016

Project unclear: Uncertainty, Brexit and migration (Pre-referendum)

The outcomes of Brexit are uncertain and fall into two categories: policy and the impacts of policy.

commentary 24 Nov 2015

Too many? Too few? Too difficult? How should the UK think about how many refugees to take?

How should the UK decide how many refugees to take? One of the reasons this has been such a difficult question is that there are many different lenses through which it can be viewed.

commentary 25 Aug 2015

Round numbers and records: What do headline statistics tell us about migration?

The number of UK residents who were born abroad is likely to exceed 8 million for the first time in 2014.

commentary 16 Jul 2015

Recent trends in EU nationals born inside and outside the EU

Recent trends and in EU migration and the countries of birth of EU migrants living in the UK.

commentary 25 Jun 2015

International students and the net migration target: Should students be taken out?

Where do students fit in the immigration system, what do we know about how they contribute to net migration, and what would it mean to 'take them out' of the net migration target.

commentary 14 May 2015

Skilled migrants and a tight cap

The return of the Conservative Party to government has a number of interesting ramifications for migration, including an EU referendum and the continuation of the net migration target.

commentary 16 Apr 2015

State of the nation: The immigration numbers game

How has the state of immigration changed in the UK over the past five years?

commentary 29 Mar 2015

Recent migrant workers in the UK labour market: What has changed in the last five years?

One way to get a picture of how migration has been changing over a period of several years is to look at the numbers and characteristics of 'recent migrant workers' (RMWs) who arrived in the UK within the past five years.

commentary 27 Feb 2015

Net migration, the genie and the bottle: Where next for the net migration target?

How did net migration become the measure by which the government’s immigration policy is judged?

commentary 17 Feb 2015

Migration and security: Navigating the risks

Security is a persistent theme in immigration debates, particularly after media coverage of crimes perpetrated by migrants or members of distinct diaspora communities, or acts of terrorism involving these groups.

commentary 30 Dec 2014

Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK in 2014: Influx or exaggeration?

A year after labour market controls on A2 migrants came to an end, what do we know about what has actually happened?

commentary 27 Nov 2014

Missing the net migration target

Today’s net migration estimate is further confirmation that the net migration target will be missed.

commentary 17 Nov 2014

Love and money: How immigration policy discriminates between families

The minimum income restriction has important indirect effects across gender, ethnicity, education, age and place of residence.

commentary 28 Oct 2014

What do we know about EU migration to the UK?

What do we know about these EU migrants who are now at the centre of political discussion in the UK?

commentary 24 Oct 2014

Calais and clandestine migration into the UK: Concerns and context

This commentary considers four key aspects of the Calais situation: the background, definitions of 'illegal' immigrants and asylum seekers, existing data and the role of policies.

commentary 01 Sep 2014

Hard Evidence: are migrants good for the economy?

Economic estimates are important, but limited in that they cannot resolve important judgements about the type of society people want.

commentary 24 Jun 2014

The Scottish diaspora and Scottish independence

In the last two centuries, Scotland’s population change has been characterised more by emigration than by immigration.

commentary 15 May 2014

Migration and citizenship in an independent Scotland

When the Scottish government released its White Paper outlining what an independent Scotland might look like, migration policy was a small but essential element of it.

commentary 14 May 2014

It’s too early to know whether the number of Romanians and Bulgarians will rise or fall in 2014

Bold claims about how little effect the lifting of labour market restrictions will have on the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK over the next year are premature.

commentary 12 May 2014

A2 migration to Britain after transitional restrictions: The first piece of evidence

New data will provide the first evidence about the number of A2 workers in the UK after the lifting of the restrictions.

commentary 02 Apr 2014

Who counts as a migrant in Scotland?

Who actually counts as a migrant in Scotland? And will that change if Scotland votes for independence?

commentary 06 Mar 2014

Conflict or consensus? Does a new government report on labour market impacts of immigration contradict the MAC?

Are the conclusions of the Home Office/BIS report very different to those of the MAC report?

commentary 21 Feb 2014

Costs and ‘Benefits’: Benefits tourism, what does it mean?

Who actually counts as a 'benefit tourist' or a 'health tourist', and how much do they cost the UK?

commentary 17 Dec 2013

Jumping the gun: Wait for the facts before estimating Romanian and Bulgarian migration

There is a lack of official estimates about how many migrants from Romania and Bulgaria may arrive in the UK, and it will be several months before any official data shows the actual level of migration from these countries.

commentary 02 Dec 2013

The relative and the real: A decade of migration in Scotland

There are several different ways of characterising the change that has happened in Scotland, all of which are accurate, but all of which may elicit different responses to the change.

commentary 13 Sep 2013

Bordering on confusion: International migration and implications for Scottish independence

Outlines the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK in migration policy, dynamics and attitudes, and considers the implications of migration issues for Scottish independence.

commentary 29 Aug 2013

Untangling the net: Understanding why migrants come and go

A particular challenge for the government is that declining emigration – which fell by more than 20,000 – is the primary cause of the recent increase in net migration.

commentary 14 Jul 2013

Pulling students out of the net: Should they be excluded from the net migration target?

International students make the single biggest contribution to non-EU immigration to the UK, and have been a key focus of policies aimed at reducing overall net migration.

commentary 23 May 2013

The halfway point: Net migration has fallen, but can the government hit its target?

Public opinion and commentators have been sceptical about the chances of the net migration target being reached.

commentary 24 Apr 2013

Evidence and values – the UK migration debate 2011-2013

Since migration policy ultimately rests on value judgments as well as costs and benefits, the evidence base may be a crucial underpinning for the debate, but will never be the whole story.

commentary 13 Apr 2013

Migration Observatory: Independent and Evidence-Based

The Observatory is, and will remain, committed to independent analysis of data relating to immigration and other migration issues affecting the UK.

commentary 08 Feb 2013

Romania and Bulgaria: The accession guessing game

There is, at present, no sound method for working out how many Romanians and Bulgarians will come.

commentary 12 Dec 2012

Pole position – New Census data shows ten-fold growth of England and Wales’ Polish population

The release of new data from the 2011 Census provides a wealth of information about the foreign-born populations of England and Wales.

commentary 07 Dec 2012

Student visas and long-term immigration estimates: A simple relationship?

The recent decline in student immigration follows a series of policies introduced by the coalition government to reduce overall net migration.

commentary 19 Sep 2012

A degree of confusion – what do people in the UK think about international students?

Better understanding what members of the British public think about student immigration is of critical importance to the current policy debate in the UK.

commentary 30 Aug 2012

Entries, Exits and Errors

The ONS has provided an indication of the uncertainty surrounding its estimates of net migration, which is an important and helpful change to the presentation of official migration statistics.

commentary 29 Jun 2012

The EU shuffle: How does freedom of movement in the EU affect migration to and from the UK?

How exactly does EU citizens’ right to freedom of movement affect migration to and from the UK?

commentary 24 May 2012

Under Control?

The data suggest that the government still has a very long way to go if it hopes to hit its target of net migration in the ‘tens of thousands’ by 2015.

commentary 13 Apr 2012

A magnet for migrants? How does the UK’s migrant population growth compare with that in other high-income countries?

Has the UK experienced more immigration than other high-income countries?

commentary 29 Feb 2012

The net migration bounce

Even if the government manages to achieve their net migration target by 2015, net migration is unlikely to be sustained at that level because there will be a “bounce” caused by reduced emigration in the following years.

commentary 01 Feb 2012

New migrants, “new” jobs, old confusion…

We do not have good enough data to calculate what proportion of new jobs in the economy migrants are taking up.

commentary 18 Jan 2012

Migrant workers: Taking our jobs – or not?

Recent contradictory reports on the labour market effects of immigration in the UK suggest that there is no absolute answer to whether migration affects employment rates.

commentary 28 Nov 2011

The variations enigma: Regional differences in support for reducing immigration to the UK

A Migration Observatory survey showed extremely interesting regional variations that suggest some pronounced differences between views in different parts of the country.

commentary 27 Oct 2011

A loose fitting cap: Why is the limit on skilled non-EU workers undersubscribed?

A brief look at how the skilled worker cap works and what else might be affecting employers of migrants who would be covered by it.

commentary 25 Aug 2011

Targeting uncertainty? EU migration in the UK

A steep rise in net migration from Eastern Europe raises the question of whether government policies to cut net migration from outside the EU may be stimulating a demand for more EU workers.

commentary 12 Aug 2011

Remittances: the invisible billions

High-income countries around the world are major receivers of remittances.

commentary 20 Jul 2011

Population – how big is too big?

Most politicians have skirted the issue of what size the population of the UK should actually be.

commentary 20 Jun 2011

Off Target: Government policies are not on track to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015

There is significant uncertainty about any assessments of the impacts of policy changes on future net migration.

commentary 17 Jun 2011

Family fortunes: How far can reforms to family migration go towards reducing net migration?

Reforming the family migration route is the last of the four key elements in the government’s ongoing reform of immigration.

commentary 26 May 2011

Net Weight: Focusing only on net migration doesn’t show the whole picture

Focusing only on long-term net migration risks failing to consider other vital data about migration in the UK – not least, how many migrants are actually here.

commentary 23 May 2011

Unsettling? Challenges with using changes in settlement policy to reduce net migration

Reducing net migration is likely to be dependent not only on reducing the number of migrants entering the UK, but also on boosting the number of people who leave.

commentary 29 Apr 2011

Czechs and balances: What will the May 1st changes mean for Eastern European migration to the UK?

What will the lifting of the WRS mean for A8 migration to the UK?

commentary 14 Apr 2011

Tangled up in the net? Challenges with reducing net migration to the tens of thousands

It is clear that achieving the net-migration target of the tens of thousands presents an enourmous challenge.

commentary 05 Apr 2011

Imposing caps, filling gaps or charging tax – how should we control labour immigration?

What else could the government do to effectively regulate labour immigration?

commentary 01 Apr 2011

International students: A+ or D- for the UK?

The Coalition government announced plans that will, they say, reduce the number of student visas issued by 70-80,000

commentary 29 Mar 2011

The Migration Observatory – better information for a more rational debate

The Migration Observatory is designed to provide a solid, independent source of analysis that anyone can use to understand migration and immigration issues.

commentary 11 Feb 2011

Opinion Polls – a vital tool or a sledgehammer to crack a nut?

British people are more opposed to immigration than all of the other countries surveyed - even though several of these countries have higher levels of immigration and illegal immigration than the UK.

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