On Thursday, official estimates showed that net migration to the UK reached a record 606,000 last year, putting pressure on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has committed to reducing numbers.
The ONS said non-EU nationals, notably refugees via the British government’s Ukraine visa schemes and people traveling for work and study, drove the surge.
Legal migration has long dominated British politics and was crucial to the 2016 Brexit campaign.
For over a decade, Conservative-led administrations have promised to reduce migration, once to less than 100,000.
On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics reported that 606,000 people entered Britain in 2022.
“The main drivers of the increase were people coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study, and humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong,” said Jay Lindop, Director of the Centre for International Migration at the Office for National Statistics.
Lindop said recent immigration has slowed.
The recent update changed the year-end June 2022 net figure from 504,000 to 606,000.
The leaders of the Brexit campaign stated that leaving the EU would give Britain greater control of its borders, and many who voted to leave cited high migration and the strain it put on public services as a factor in their decision.
In recent years, Britain has opened visa systems for Ukraine and former colony Hong Kong, and engineering, construction, and catering industries have pressed the government to let them engage international workers.
Three hundred twenty-nine thousand people moved to Britain in 2015 before the referendum.
Sunak committed to minimizing legal migration without a target. However, the administration announced this week that certain overseas students might lose the opportunity to bring family into the country.
After tens of thousands of individuals landed on small boats over the channel in recent years, Sunak pledged to crack down on illegal migration.