The number of visa grants for people to come and live in the UK has more than doubled from over half a million in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2022 (see the full Home Office bulletin and our press comment).
And that doesn’t include 50,000 people who were caught attempting to enter the UK illegally in just the past year – most of them by boat. About 140,000 have come illegally since 2018 (See summary).
One telling aspect of the figures is the huge rise in the number of family members of those on study visas who are coming here; remember that all of those coming have full access to the labour market with no pay thresholds or job offer requirements.
In 2022, more than one fifth (22%) of all sponsored study related visas granted were to dependants of students (135,788), compared to 6% (16,047) in 2019.
Nigeria had the highest number of dependants (60,923) of sponsored study visa holders in 2022, increasing from 1,586 in 2019.
Indian nationals had the second highest number of dependants, increasing from 3,135 to 38,990. There were almost 120,000 dependant visas granted to the top 5 nationalities (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in 2022.
Indeed, there were more study dependants from Nigeria in most recent year than study visa main applicants from that country: 59,074 main applicants but 60,923 dependants!
Meanwhile, the total number of work dependants has also risen and now stands at 155,343. This was more than two and half times (+180%) the number of grants in 2019.
Remarkably a record number of study visas (main applicants and dependants) plus a record number of work visas means these two categories now stand at a million grants on their own – before you even add in over a quarter of a million refugees who have immigrated here from Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine as well as 50,000 or so family migrants.
Some other takeaways from the figures:
Long term visa grants
- Long term visa grants since 2019 have increased by 130% to 1,276,264 from 554,363. If excluding all students (around 40% of whom stay on after their studies) and Ukrainians (whose presence in the UK is open ended, the rate of increase is 61% from 269,641 to 434,466.
British National (Overseas)
- 129,415 in total (of which 105,000 had arrived, Q4 2022 saw 10,100 BN(O) applications.
- 208,389 visas were granted to Ukrainian Nationals in 2022. three-quarters of this was through the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, one quarter was through the Ukraine Family Scheme.
- The number has doubled compared with 2019 (up 95%) with 267,670 granted. Similarly seasonal visas have increased to 35,000 and represented half of temporary worker visas. Dependants now make up 37% of all work-related visas (29% in 2019). There were also 155,000 grants to dependants of work visa holders.
- Study visas up 81% compared with 2019 at 485,758 sponsored study visas (to main applicants only). Indians and Chinese students are the biggest group at 140,000 and 105,000 respectively. There were also 135,000 grants to family members of study visa holders (eight times the 16,000 or so granted in 2019)
- 48,000 family visas were granted, down 14% on 2019.
- There were 75,000 asylum applications (main applicants) in 2022, more than double the amount of the peak of the ‘European Migration Crisis’. This is the highest number in 20 years, unless including all offered sanctuary for humanitarian reasons (i.e. 208,000 Ukrainians and 25,000 BN(O)s.)