A week ago the Office for National Statistics published its Migration Statistics Quarterly Report February 2012.
The summary included the following points:
- Estimated total long-term immigration to the UK in the year to June 2011 was 593,000. This compares to 582,000 in the year to June 2010 and has remained at a similar level since 2004
- Estimated total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to June 2011 was 343,000. This is similar to 347,000 in the year to June 2010 and a decrease of 32,000 from the year ending June 2008
- Net migration was 250,000 in the year to June 2011. Since the year to June 2010 when net migration was 235,000, it has peaked at 255,000 in the year to September 2010 and remained steady since
- Long-term immigration of New Commonwealth citizens has reached 170,000. This is the highest recorded estimate. Two thirds have migrated to the UK to study
- Study remains the most common reason for migrating to the UK at 242,000 in the year to June 2011
- 690,000 National Insurance numbers (NINos) were allocated to non-UK nationals in the year to September 2011, an increase of 11% on the year to September 2010
A closer look revealed:
There were 7% fewer entry clearance visas issued for work in 2011 than in 2010 (149,000 compared with 161,000), and 6% more extensions granted for work (134,000 compared to 127,000).
Latest quarterly data show that in 2011, the number of study entry clearance visas issued was 237,000, a decrease of 7% on a year earlier (254,000).
Latest data for 2011 show that grants of extensions of stay for study decreased 14% compared with 2010, from 120,000 to 103,000 taking the number of grants lower than in 2009 (109,000) and 2008 (110,000).
In 2011, 61,000 people were issued student visitor visas. The number of visas issued to student visitors has increased steadily since 2005 (16,000) and is now at its highest level.
Latest quarterly data show that in 2011, the number of entry clearance visas issued to those on the ‘family route’ was 46,000, a decrease of 15% on a year earlier (54,000). In addition, there were 44,000 dependants of workers, 24,000 dependants of students and 19,000 other dependants.
Family formation and reunion grants of settlement fell by 27% from 69,000 in 2010 to 51,000 in 2011, a return to the levels in 2007 (51,000).
In the year to June 2011, provisional estimates of Long Term International Migration indicate that 55,000 more British nationals left the country intending to be away for at least a year than arrived intending to stay for at least 12 months (i.e. a net migration of -55,000). However, the opposite is true of EU nationals, with estimated net migration of +80,000.
In a slew of new documents published today the Government has heralded the end of quasi-automatic settlement for skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the Points Based System, the evisceration of the Overseas Domestic Worker scheme, some tinkering with the Tier 5 temporary worker routes and the creation of yet another visitor category, a ‘permitted paid engagement’, which bypasses the Points Based System altogether.
The Home Secretary is determined to break “the link between migration and settlement”. In doing so, from 2016 she wants to reserve settlement rights under the skilled category for people earning a minimum of £35,000 per annum (see statement of intent here). Recently, the Migration Advisory Committee advised the government that the move would reduce settlement of skilled workers. In sum, annual settlement visas under the Tier 2 (General) category would decrease by 40,000 (from 60,000 to 20,000). The promise of attracting the best and the brightest, and simultaneously reducing immigration to the tens of thousands, is becoming more difficult to keep. The costs are extracted from the economy.
One contradiction in the government’s approach is that although the “red carpet” was rolled out to investors (with settlement rights available in 1, 2, and 5 year categories for the respective investment thresholds of £10, 5 and 1 million) and entrepreneurs (£200,000 thresholds with settlement rights in 3 or 5 years depending on turnover and “full-time jobs” created), it remains to be seen how such investment can be attracted to the UK if foreign capital isn’t free to use settlement rights in incentivising foreign labour’s entry into an ailing economy?
In Germany itself – the home of the Gastarbeiter or “guest worker” scheme – murders of Turks are apathetically called “doner killings” and society is described as being “poisoned”. Against this gory background, which makes British racism seem comparatively mild, it isn’t ideal timing to go German and paste an unfriendly label – “guest workers” – on migrants. Historically, German extremists had replaced their government’s characterisation of immigrants as “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter) with the more hostile and derogatory word Ausländer or “alien/foreigner”.
In any event, like the UK, Germany’s economy relies heavily on overseas skilled workers. In particular violence and racism, coupled with dubious immigration policies, raise serious concerns (as reported in der Spiegel) for the future because:
Germany faces a shortage of skilled labour that could become an increasingly serious threat to its economy in years to come. Companies in certain industrial sectors are already struggling to fill vacant positions. Demographic developments will only make that worse, as the German population ages and the labour force shrinks. But current immigration law makes it hard for German companies to employ foreign specialists.