The UK is slowly, but surely, becoming an less popular place to live and work.
The latest figures show that net migration—the difference between the number of immigrants entering the UK and those leaving—has fallen to its lowest level in three years. Net migration stood at 246,000 as of today (Aug. 24), according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That’s 81,000 lower than the 327,000 recorded in March 2016.
Net migration has fallen steadily since Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union (EU). The drop in migration was largely driven by an increase in the number of EU migrants leaving the UK. Around 33,000 EU citizens left from March 2016 to March 2017. The vast majority were Eastern European migrants—citizens from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (known as EU8 citizens).
The ONS released two accompanying reports that challenge previous estimates of the number of international students who remain in the UK once their studies are completed. It was previously thought there were tens of thousands of internationally students illegally remaining after finishing studies. The government announced a major crackdown on international students in a bid to cut immigration after Brexit. But new data shows that 176,317 of 181, 024 international students (or 97.4%) from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) left on time.
The government of prime minister Theresa May is under increased pressure to now remove international students from the official net-migration statistics. She has held steadfast and kept international students in the count, arguing that many overstayed their visas. That line of thinking has driven much of May’s immigration agenda, which now looks to be based on a huge inaccuracy.