Radical reforms to the immigration system are starting to take effect, the most recent quarterly Office for National Statistics (to September 2011) and Home Office (to March 2012) migration figures show.
ONS statistics show similar figures to the same quarter a year earlier. Estimated net migration was 252,000 in the year to September 2011, compared to 255,000 in the year to September 2010.
The Home Office statistics also released today show more up to date figures and reveal significant reductions in the number of visas issued. These figures show that the reforms introduced by the government are starting to bite.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Our tough new rules are now making a real difference with a record 62 per cent drop in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, and overall falls in work visas, family numbers and people settling.
‘As these policies start to bite we are seeing an end to the years when net migration was consistently on the rise. But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.’
The Home office figures also showed that:
- The number of Tier 4 student visas issued has decreased by 62 per cent in Jan-March 2012, compared to Jan-March 2011. And for the year to March 2012 the number of student visas issued has decreased by 21 per cent compared to the year before.
- Work visas are also down by 8% and family visas down by 16 per cent in the 12 months to March 2012, compared to the same period to March 2011.
- The number of grants of extensions to stay has also fallen by 10 per cent for the year ending March 2012, compared to the year before.
- Settlement also fell by a third in the year ending March 2012, compared with the previous 12 months.
- In the year to March 2012 the number of visitor visas issued increased by 9 per cent, while the overall number of visas issued excluding visitor and transit visas was down by 13 per cent for the same period. Further evidence we are getting a grip on immigration while continuing to attract tourism and stimulate growth.