Immigration set a new record in the United Kingdom during 2022: more than 600 thousand people

People watch from Greenwich Park, with the Canary Wharf financial district in the distance, in London, UK. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls (HENRY NICHOLLS/)

The net immigration in the United Kingdom reached the record number of 606,000 people in 2022, reported Thursday the Office for National Statistics (ONS), at a time when the UK government is under increasing pressure to reduce foreign arrivals.

“A series of unprecedented global events throughout 2022 and the lifting of restrictions following the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic led to record levels of international immigration to the UK,” he said. Jay Lindopdirector of the ONS international migration center.

This independent official body estimated total long-term immigration in 2022 at 1.2 million people and emigration at 557,000, “meaning that migration continues to increase the population, with net immigration of 606,000” people.

Most of the people who came to the UK legally last year to stay came from outside the European Union (925,000). Immigrants from the EU were 151,000.

“Stop the boats”, reads the slogan of the new law with which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak intends to prevent 2023 from being another record year for immigrants to the United Kingdom (Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS/File) (POOL/)

Immigration has been a politically contentious issue for years in the United Kingdom and it was one of the main battlefields of the referendum that in 2016 directed the country towards the Brexitthe exit from the community block that became fully effective in January 2021.

“We have to lower them”

Successive Tory executives have vowed to “regain control” of Britain’s borders but levels of immigration, legal and illegal, continue to rise.

“The figures are too high and we have to lower them,” said the prime minister Rishi Sunak after the announcement of these record numbers, in an interview with the private British channel ITV. And he highlighted the measures announced this week by his government to limit the arrival of family members of international students.

United Kingdom Immigration - Migration Law
A group of rafters who have just entered Britain from France across the English Channel in Dover, southeast England (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File) (Matt Dunham /)

This new plan establishes that only postgraduate students designated as research programs can bring dependent family members with them through the family reunification system.

In addition, foreign students will not be able to change from a student visa to a work visa before completing their training.

In 2022, the United Kingdom issued some 136,000 visas to dependent family members of foreign students, compared to 16,000 in 2019, according to data released by the executive.

Many new residents seek to improve their quality of studies (REUTERS/Toby Melville/File)
Many new residents seek to improve their quality of studies (REUTERS/Toby Melville/File) (Toby Melville/)

“Control of the immigration system”

The Labor MP Stephen Kinnock, responsible for migration issues for the main British opposition party, assured “that the government has completely lost control of the immigration system,” in statements to the private channel Sky News.

“The main drivers of the increase” in the net number of immigrants “were people who came to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study and humanitarian reasons, including those from Ukraine and Hong Kong”, Lindop specified.

“For the first time since we used our new methods to measure migration, we have also included asylum seekers in our estimates, since approximately 1 in 12 non-EU migrants arrive this way,” he added.

Sunak’s predecessor, Boris Johnsonreached an agreement with Rwanda, an African country located 6,500 km from London, to send asylum seekers who arrive in the United Kingdom irregularly there.

This is the star policy defended by its Minister of the Interior, the ultra-conservative and controversial Suella Braverman.

However, the plan is paralyzed pending the decision of the courts, before which NGOs defending migrants appealed.

(With information from AFP)

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