Government likely to fall well short of their net migration target

August 23, 2017

Net migration from non-EU countries is unlikely to fall significantly during this Parliament, unless further and determined action is taken. It could well run at 155,000 a year - equivalent to more than the current population of Slough – to say nothing of EU migration. That is the conclusion of a report issued today by Migration Watch UK which has serious implications for future immigration policy.

The report takes forward a series of major studies by the Home Office of visas issued each year between 2004 and 2010. These studies assessed the number of those issued with a visa who still had Leave to Remain (LTR), including those who had gained settlement, five years later.

The Migration Watch UK report (Immigration System & Policy MW 418) took the average percentages for the work and family routes that still had LTR and applied them to the future years 2011 to 2016. For students, it was assumed that a smaller proportion would continue to have LTR in the future, reflecting changes to student immigration policy. This gave an estimate that, of the average of 415,000 visas granted each year, about 85,000 would still have LTR five years on.

This number takes no account of those who might have stayed on after their visa had expired. The report therefore assumed that 10% would overstay, implying an additional 35,000 on net migration.

The ONS makes technical adjustments to the IPS to come up with their official Long Term International Migration (LTIM) figure. These have been about 35,000 a year in the last two years so this has to be added to give LTIM for each of the years 2016 to 2021 of 155,000. The actual level of non-EU net migration in 2016 was 175,000, so this tends to validate the methodology for future years.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK said:

Migration Watch UK has a remarkable record in estimating future migration. We now say that, unless determined action is taken, it is extremely unlikely that non-EU migration will fall significantly in the next five years. This should be a wake-up call for the government to take further action if overall net migration (after subtracting British emigration) is to be brought down to sustainable levels. Brexit should help considerably but further action on non-EU migration is essential.

* The latest ONS estimate gives the population of Slough as 146,000 (2015). ONS statistics on Population by Country of Birth and Nationality, 25th August 2016, URL:

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