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Net migration to UK falls for first time in almost two years

The Office for National Statistics have published net migration figures for the year to September 2015.

At 323,000, the figures are marginally down on the previous quarter, but still up by 31,000 year-on-year. Of course, this level remains way above the Government’s target of reducing net migration to below the tens of thousands.

In practice, these figures mean that fewer people are leaving and a few more EU migrants are coming in – both pointing to a strong UK economy.

Immigration is split almost evenly now between EU and non EU, and the main reason for coming here is work.

Non-EU Tier 2 work migrants were up 2%, again reflecting a strong economy. We now understand that the Government will delay a decision on whether to accept the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations on reducing skilled migration through the Tier 2 route, until after the EU referendum in June, unsurprisingly.

On student migration, numbers are down slightly. We’ve seen an overall 2% drop in those coming to university here (concerning given the growing global international student market). But the Russell Group universities have seen a 7% increase, which underlines the Government’s policy to be much more selective on the types of students that it allows to come and study here. London First campaigns to protect and grow the international student market, and we briefed members of the Lords ahead of a debate that they held on this topic, this week.

The next set of migration figures are due out on 5 May, the last before the EU referendum and it will be interesting to see what they reveal about EU migration.

We will organise a roundtable event with the Home Office Head of Migration Policy, John Thompson, to discuss current Government thinking on immigration.

For more information, please contact Mark Hilton, mhilton@londonfirst.co.uk

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