The Home Office released visa, asylum and immigration statistics pertaining to the year to June 2022.
These reveal a large increase in immigration since before the pandemic, with an astonishing 1.1 million visas granted for people to come and live in the UK (a rise of more than half a million when compared with the year to June 2019 – before the pandemic.
It is the highest number of visas for people to come and live here ever issued in one year, suggesting that, despite repeated promises to control and reduce immigration, the government are delivering the opposite.
For comparison, in the year to June 2019 there were just over 570,000 such visas issued.
The huge increase is only partly accounted for by the fact that the UK introduced a new immigration system on 1 January 2021 which now encompasses EU citizens (previously EU nationals did not need to obtain a visa in order to come here but now, following Brexit, they do).
Only 64,700 of the grants in the most recent year are to EU citizens so this does not nearly account for the large increases we have seen since the system was introduced last year.
Of the 1.1 million entry clearance grants to individuals in the year to June 2022:
- 331,200 were for work.
- 486,900 were for study.
- 82,300 were for family.
- 230,000 were for resettlement.
- There was a 72% increase in work visas compared with 2019 (they totalled 331,233) and a 71% increase in study visas compared with 2019 (they totalled 486,868).
The graphs below depict the broad trends in the issuance of different types and total numbers of visas, both over the past few years and going back to 2005.
Figure 1: Visa entry clearance grants to come and live in the UK, 2015 to 2022 (Home Office).
Figure 2: Visa entry clearance grants to come and live in the UK, 2005 to 2022 (Home Office).
Below are some other key takeaways from the quarterly data release by the Home Office:
a) Resettlement overall is also at the highest level ever recorded (about 230,000). Between 2005 and 2020 resettlement never rose above 7,000 per year. In the past year it has hit 230,000. A separate bulletin confirmed that 21,000 Afghans had come to the UK in the past year or so under different resettlement and relocation routes. Meanwhile, more than 130,000 Ukrainians were granted permission to come, alongside 70,000 or so from Hong Kong.
b) A new work visa for overseas students with no job offer or salary requirement saw 66,000 grants in first year of operation. We now also have the first full year of statistics for extensions granted under the newly reintroduced Graduate work visa category. There were 66,200 extensions granted in the new Graduate category. The Graduate route, introduced on 1st July 2021, allows eligible students to stay in the UK for a period of 2 or 3 years after successfully completing their studies to work or look for work. Those staying on this visa can take jobs at any skill or pay level, or not work at all.
c) Backdoor, chain immigration has rocketed: Another remarkable takeaway is that 226,400 visa grants were to family of people on other visas (180% more than in 2019). Since then, student dependants rose five-fold and work dependants doubled. Those entering have nearly full access to labour market. This is a back-door route with minimal rules, which flies in the face of the controls that British citizens want to see on immigration.
d) Permanent immigration is up by between 20%-30% since 2019. There were 122,266 decisions on applications for settlement in the UK in the year ending June 2022, 29% more than in 2019. Of these, 120,770 (99%) resulted in a grant. There were 194,000 grants of British citizenship in the year ending June 2022, 22% more than in 2019.
e) Asylum is at its highest in two decades and the fifth highest level ever: The UK experienced the highest number of asylum applications from main claimants and dependants since 2002. The number (75,181) is more than double the annual average (35,000) received during the period 2003 to 2021 (see Figure 3 below).
f) Enforcement continues to collapse with removals of serious foreign criminals having fallen by 40% since 2019 and asylum-related returns plummeting by over 20% since just last year.
g) Boat crossings go on breaking records: August 2022 has been the worst month on record for illegal boat crossings from France with nearly 7,000 people having arrived (surpassing the previous record of November 2021). The boat crossings are just a portion of 110,000 people who have entered the UK via different illegal routes since the start of 2018. New figures on irregular or illegal immigration confirmed that just over 12,700 people arrived via small boat (just over twice the number that were reported arriving during the first six months of 2021). 18% of arrivals in the first half of this year were Albanian, 18% were Afghan. Albanian small boat arrivals have risen by 165% in a year (2022 being half year. Up 431% if extrapolating to full year.) Meanwhile, less than 0.1% of the 4,500 people who have illegally come to the country in boats in the first quarter of the year have been removed on the basis that their asylum claim was inadmissible.
Figure 3: Asylum applications to main applicants and dependants, 1979 to 2022.