UK net migration climbs to record 500,000 in year to June

The sharp increase in people moving to the UK is due to an increase in the number of non-European Union citizens.

Net migration to the UK has climbed to a record half a million, driven by a series of “unprecedented global events”, including the war in Ukraine and the end of lockdown restrictions, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). .

An estimated 504,000 more people moved to the UK than left in the 12 months to June 2022, a sharp increase from 173,000 in the year to June 2021.

Other factors contributing to the jump include the resettlement of Afghan refugees, the new visa route for British citizens of Hong Kong and students arriving from outside the European Union.

A total of 1.1 million people are likely to have immigrated to the UK in the year to June, the majority (704,000) from outside the EU.

By contrast, an estimated 560,000 people emigrated from the UK in the same period, almost half of them (275,000) returning to the EU.

The imbalance means that while many more non-EU citizens are likely to have arrived in the UK than left during these 12 months, the opposite is true for EU citizens, with more departures than arrivals.

Change in patterns

Jay Lindop, Deputy Director of the ONS Center for International Migration, said: “A series of global events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together, these are unprecedented.

“These include the end of lockdown restrictions in the UK, the first full post-transition period from the EU, the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghans and the new visa route for British Hong Kong citizens. , which have contributed to the record levels. of long-term immigration that we have seen.

“Migration from non-EU countries, specifically students, is driving this increase. With the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, more students have arrived in the UK after studying remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, there has also been a large increase in the number of people migrating for a variety of other reasons. This includes people arriving for humanitarian protection, such as those from Ukraine, as well as for family reasons.

“The many interdependent factors contributing to migration at this time mean it is too early to say whether this picture will hold.”


Concerns about the effect of immigration were a major driver of Britain’s vote to leave the EU in 2016, with then-Prime Minister David Cameron repeatedly pledging to achieve net migration levels below 100,000 per year.

The previous record for net migration was just over 330,000 in 2015.

Separate figures released by the British government on Thursday showed that 33,029 people were detected arriving by small craft across the Channel between January and September this year, with 61 percent of those arriving during the summer months of July to September. .

The month of August saw the highest number of small boat arrivals since data was collected, he said.