The Outlook for Non-EU Net Migration


Immigration System & Policy: MW 418

The Outlook for Non-EU Net Migration

Summary

1. Analysis, carried out by the Home Office, of visas issued to non-EU migrants over the seven year period 2004-2010 (the ‘Migrant Journey’ reports) could indicate the number who, over each of the coming five years, may still have valid Leave To Remain (LTR). This is likely to be of the order of 85,000 a year, which, after adjustments, translates into an LTIM estimate of non-EU net migration of 120,000 a year. However, this assumes that all of those whose visas expire depart the country, an unlikely scenario. On the assumption that 90% are visa compliant, overstaying could average 35,000 a year. This means that non-EU net migration could well stand at around 155,000 for the next five years.

Introduction

2. This paper uses the Home Office Migrant Journey analyses of the number of non-EU migrants who, in past years, still had valid Leave To Remain (LTR) five years after their arrival (including those who had obtained settlement) as the basis for an estimate of the probable scale of future net migration.

Migrant Journey Analysis

3. The Home Office has now conducted seven major analyses of changes in migrants’ visa and leave status, known formerly as the Migrant Journey reports. The researchers examined the cohorts of those granted work, study and family visas (including their dependents) each year in the period 2004-2010 and established their visa and leave status five years later. The findings are summarised in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Proportion of migrants in non-visit visa categories with valid LTR (including settlement) after five years, by year of arrival.[1] Source: Home Office, Migrant Journey reports.

Work (Route to settlement)Temporary Work (No route to settlement)StudyFamily
200450%17%31%75%
200546%13%25%76%
200644%12%24%80%
200736%11%22%82%
200834%9%22%84%
200941%11%21%84%
201044%12%19%85%
Average 2004-201042%12%23%81%

4. The analysis found that, of those migrants granted a skilled work visa with a route to settlement (including their dependents), an average of 42% across the period continued to have LTR after five years. For those granted a work visa without a route to settlement and their dependants (such as Tier 5), 12% had leave to remain five years later. Those granted family visas were most likely to continue to have LTR after five years, with an average of 81% across the period having the right to remain. Of those granted a study visa and a study dependant visa an average of 23% continued to have LTR five years later.

5. The Migrant Journey methodology only identified those who still had LTR. The analysis did not identify or count those who no longer had LTR but who remained in the country as overstayers. Therefore the proportions presented in the table above are not to be taken as the proportion of migrants who remained five years later, but simply those who continued to have the legal right to do so. The proportion and number of those who have, in fact, remained is likely to be larger as some will have overstayed their visa and remained illegally.

6. To apply the proportions in Table 1 to those visas granted in subsequent years (2011 to 2016) would assume that future patterns of behaviour will mirror those observed during the period studied by the analysis. We think that this is an unlikely scenario since the student route underwent significant reform from 2012 onwards and changes were introduced which would diminish the opportunities for students to remain.[2] For example, students must now show academic progression if they wish to extend their visa for further study. Students must now also find graduate level employment paying a minimum salary if they wish to remain for work following the closure of the Post Study Work route which previously allowed students to extend their visas for two years to allow them to search for and take work at any level and pay. It is therefore likely that, in the future, a smaller proportion of students will continue to have LTR after five years than the 23% observed by the Migrant Journey analyses. Therefore we assume that only 10% of students and their dependants will continue to have LTR after five years.

Table 2. Proportion of visas granted in the years 2011-2016 expected to have LTR after five years by visa type.

Work (Route to settlement)42%
Temporary Work (No route to settlement)12%
Study10%
Family81%

7. By applying the proportions outlined in Table 2 above to those granted work, study and family visas (including their dependants) in the years 2011 to 2016, it is possible to estimate the number who may continue to have LTR five years later. The summary findings are in Table 3 below, which shows that an average of 85,000 will continue to have LTR in the years 2016-2021. (The full tables can be found in Annex A)

Table 3. Summary of findings, visa cohorts 2011-2016 and number expected to have LTR five years later in 2016-2021, assuming that 10% of students and their dependants have LTR five years later.

CohortTotal Visas GrantedNumber expected to have LTR after 5 years
2011454,200100,900
2012392,60083,100
2013404,50079,100
2014420,10083,200
2015411,90084,000
2016407,30083,400
Average 2011-2016415,10085,600

Overstayers

8. The above estimates are only those who could continue to have the legal right to remain after five years. To assume that this would translate into net migration is to assume 100% visa compliance; an unlikely assumption. Therefore, 85,000 a year could well be the minimum level of non-EU net migration that we can expect in the coming years since there will be some degree of overstaying of visas.

9. The extent of overstaying is unknown. In a 2009 GLA/LSE report ‘Economic impact on the London and UK economy of an earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK’ the authors assumed that one in 200 of those granted a visa with a definite expiry date between 2001 and 2007 overstayed. We agree with Palmer and Wood who in their 2017 report ‘The Politics of Fantasy’ suggest that this is unlikely. We think a more likely estimate is that 90% of visa holders leave the country when their visa expires and 10% remain illegally and overstay.

10. If an average of 415,100 work, study and family visas (plus dependants) were granted annually between 2011 and 2016 and 85,600 a year are valid five years later then we would expect 329,500 of each annual intake to expire. Assuming that 90% of these people depart the country when their visa expires, but 10% overstay, this suggests that each annual intake could well produce around 33,000 overstayers (35,000 rounded to the nearest 5,000), which would add directly to net migration.

The IPS Adjustment

11. The International Passenger Survey is a survey that captures passenger movements to and from UK ports. It cannot capture all movements such as migration across the land border with the Republic of Ireland, asylum seekers, removals, and those whose intentions change (known as migrant/visitor switchers). Additional data is therefore used to produce an overall estimate of long-term international migration. The IPS component typically comprises in excess of 90% of the final LTIM figure with additional components and adjustments made to account for flows not covered by the IPS.

12. It is the overall IPS statistics for inflow and outflow that are subject to the adjustment, and not the more detailed figures for inflow/outflow by citizenship. This means that there is no data available on the non-EU component of the adjustment.

13. However, broadly speaking, the difference between non-EU net migration in the IPS and the LTIM figures can provide an indicator of the size of the adjustment which relates to non-EU migration.

14. In the last two years, this has been around 35,000 a year, meaning that non-EU net migration as measured by the LTIM figures was 35,000 higher than the IPS. These are net migrants not captured by the IPS. Since 2010, the average difference between the IPS and the LTIM figres for non-EU net migration has been 21,000.

15. Assuming that patterns in asylum, removal and visitor/migrant switchers continue as they have for the last two years we can assume that an additional 35,000 could be added in each of the coming five years.

Implications for the Net Migration Target

16. The above analysis provides a broad indicator of the level of net migration that could be expected to from 2016 to 2021:

  • The Migrant Journey provides the basis for estimating that around 85,000 migrants granted a visa in the years 2011-2016 will continue to have LTR after five years. This is the starting point for our estimate of future net migration.
  • Of those whose visas will expire, we have assumed that 90% are visa compliant but that 10% will overstay their visa. This would add around 35,000 to net migration.
  • Assuming that the difference between the IPS and the LTIM figures (the assumed non-EU component of the adjustment) continues as it has in the last two years then we can add an additional 35,000 to net migration.
  • This suggests that non-EU net migration could continue be around 155,000 a year in the years 2016-2021. The actual level of non-EU net migration in 2016 was 175,000.

Conclusion

17. It follows that were no action to be taken, net migration of non-EU migrants could be around 155,000 a year to 2021. This takes account of overstaying, and additional migration components such as asylum, removals and switchers, which make up the IPS adjustment.

Annex A

Tables A1-A6. Visa cohorts, 2011 – 2016, and number expected to have LTR five years later. Figures based on Migrant Journey findings for workers and their dependants and family migrants and MWUK assumptions about students and their dependants. Source: HO Visa Data and Migrant Journey report 2017.

2011 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa Grants Expected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *68,80028,900
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *78,6009,400
Study *261,90026,200
Family44,90036,400
Total454,200100,900

2012 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa Grants Expected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *41,60017,500
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *101,20012,100
Study *209,70021,000
Family40,10032,500
Total392,60083,100

2013 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa GrantsExpected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *40,10016,800
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *112,60013,500
Study *218,60021,900
Family33,20026,900
Total404,50079,100

2014 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa GrantsExpected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *43,90018,400
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *121,30014,600
Study *220,00022,000
Family34,90028,200
Total420,10083,200

2015 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa GrantsExpected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *42,70017,900
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *121,20014,500
Study *210,30021,000
Family37,70030,600
Total411,90084,000

2016 Visa Cohort - Numbers expected to have LTR after 5 years, assuming 10% of students and student dependants have LTR 5 years later

Visa GrantsExpected to have LTR after 5 years
Work (Route to settlement) *41,20017,300
Temporary Work (No route to settlement) *120,80014,500
Study *207,20020,700
Family38,10030,900
Total407,30083,400

* Includes dependants

23 August, 2017


Notes

  1. Source: Home Office, Changes in Migrants’ Visa and Leave Status, 2017, URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statistics-on-changes-… migrants-visa-and-leave-status-2015
  2. We see no reason to make further assumptions. While the family route was reformed this affected the ability to sponsor a family migrant and it would be unlikely that this would make a difference to patterns of behaviour once in the country. Work reforms were largely confined to capping the Tier 2 (General) route, which is also unlikely to make a difference to in-country behavior. The right to settle has been withdrawn for those on a Tier 2 ICT visa, however this has been accounted for in our figures since ICTs are now counted as Temporary Work (not leading to settlement) and the appropriate percentage applied. The threshold for settlement has now been set at £35,000 however we think that a figure of 42% remains a reasonable assumption.
  1. Source: Home Office, Changes in Migrants’ Visa and Leave Status, 2017, URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statistics-on-changes-… migrants-visa-and-leave-status-2015
  2. We see no reason to make further assumptions. While the family route was reformed this affected the ability to sponsor a family migrant and it would be unlikely that this would make a difference to patterns of behaviour once in the country. Work reforms were largely confined to capping the Tier 2 (General) route, which is also unlikely to make a difference to in-country behavior. The right to settle has been withdrawn for those on a Tier 2 ICT visa, however this has been accounted for in our figures since ICTs are now counted as Temporary Work (not leading to settlement) and the appropriate percentage applied. The threshold for settlement has now been set at £35,000 however we think that a figure of 42% remains a reasonable assumption.

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