Immigration Cap - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Key facts

  • Estimated net long-term immigration to the UK comprises estimated gross long-term immigration (those entering the UK) minus estimated gross long-term emigration (those leaving the UK), and totalled 196,000 in 2009. The figure includes British, EEA and non-EEA citizens coming to the UK for 12 months or more.
  • The estimated gross long-term immigration figure allows a breakdown by nationality and reason for migration for all immigrants entering the country. Estimated gross long-term immigration totalled 538,000 in 2008,[1] of which 52% (278,000) were non-EEA citizens. British citizens accounted for 15% of estimated gross long-term immigration to the UK, and EEA citizens 33%.
  • The Government has announced that it intends to reduce estimated net long-term immigration to 'tens of thousands each year, not hundreds of thousands' and that the non-EEA economic immigrant cap is a first step in this process.
  • EEA nationals are not subject to UK immigration control and the UK Government cannot influence the granting of citizenship rights by other EEA countries.
  • In 2008, non-EEA citizens coming to work in the UK accounted for 12% of all gross long-term immigration. Non-EEA citizens coming to study and to join family members accounted for 23% and 11% respectively.
  • Only non-EEA citizens are subject to immigration control, under the Points Based System. Tiers 1 and 2 cover economic migration, and Tier 4 students. Family reunification is covered under separate rules.
  • There are approximately the same number of non-EEA main applicants to dependants under Tiers 1 and 2, a ratio of 5:4.
  • The Government has implemented an interim cap on new non-EEA economic migrants under Tiers 1 and 2. Between July 2010 and March 2011 there will be a limit of 24,100 migrants, amounting to a 5% reduction on the previous year.
  • A permanent cap on non-EEA economic migrants will be implemented from April 2011, administered through the Points Based System. The level of the cap has not yet been set, but will be announced by the end of 2010.

In 2009, intra-company transfers accounted for 60% of all Tier 2 visas and 40% of Tiers 1 and 2 combined.

1   The latest year for which a breakdown by reason for migration is available. Back

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Prepared 3 November 2010