Net migration to the United Kingdom rose to an estimated record of 504,000 in the year to June 2022, official statistics showed on Thursday, driven by an increase in the number of non-European Union nationals.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a recovery of travel following COVID-19, and an increase in arrivals of international students who had been studying remotely during the pandemic had contributed to the rise.
An estimated 1.1 million long-term immigrants arrived in the year to June, an increase in 435,000 on the previous year.
Three new visa schemes — for Ukrainians fleeing the war, the resettlement of Afghan nationals and a route for Hong Kong British nationals — together added around 186,000 to the number of arrivals, the ONS said.
“A series of world events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together these were unprecedented,” Jay Lindop, Director of the ONS Centre for International Migration, said.
“Migration from non-EU countries, specifically students, is driving this rise,” Lindop added. “The many factors independent of each other contributing to migration at this time mean it is too early to say whether this picture will be sustained.”
Concerns over the impact of immigration were one of the big drivers behind Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016, with then Prime Minister David Cameron repeatedly pledging to get net migration levels below 100,000 a year.
The previous record high for net migration was just over 330,000 in 2015.
Separate figures released by the British government on Thursday showed 33,029 people were detected arriving by small boats across the Channel between January and September this year, with 61% of those people arriving over the summer in the months July to September.
The month of August saw the highest number of small boat arrivals of any month since data has been collected, it said.