Record Immigration in UK: Ukraine and Hong Kong Fuel the Surge in 2023

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By Sanwar Ali:


1. Introduction

The United Kingdom is bracing for a likely record rise in immigration, as mentioned by Grant Shapps, the energy secretary. This unprecedented increase is mainly due to the influx of people from Ukraine and Hong Kong. The situation has prompted discussions about the importance of post-Brexit controls on work visas and their role in managing immigration numbers. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of the factors contributing to the surge in immigration, the government's response, and the potential implications for the UK's economy and society.

2. Government Anticipates Record Immigration Numbers

Reports suggest that official data will indicate an annual net immigration of between 650,000 and 997,000 people, fueled by a rise in non-EU immigration from individuals entering the UK to work and study. The previous record for immigration was 504,000, set in the year to June 2022. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is expected to release the figures on 25 May, which may put additional pressure on Chancellor Rishi Sunak regarding the government's 2019 pledge to reduce net immigration to "tens of thousands."

3. Post-Brexit Controls on Work Visas

In his interview on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme on Sky News, Grant Shapps emphasized the importance of post-Brexit controls on work visas. He stated that one of the advantages of Brexit was the ability to control the UK's own immigration policies and address specific skills shortages in various sectors. The Migration Advisory Committee plays a crucial role in identifying these shortages and providing recommendations to the government.

4. Sources of Increased Immigration

There are several factors contributing to the significant rise in immigration numbers, including refugees from Ukraine, British nationals from Hong Kong, and non-EU individuals entering the UK to work and study.

4.1. Ukrainian Refugees

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to a large number of refugees seeking safety in the UK. Shapps estimates that people arriving from Ukraine have added as many as 300,000 to UK immigration figures. The UK has been praised for its compassionate response to the crisis, opening its doors to those in need of refuge.

4.2. Hong Kong British Nationals

The UK has also welcomed a significant number of British nationals from Hong Kong. The deteriorating political situation in the region has led many to leave Hong Kong and settle in the UK, further contributing to the surge in immigration numbers.

4.3. Non-EU Immigration for Work and Study

In addition to the influx of people from Ukraine and Hong Kong, there has been a considerable rise in non-EU immigration from individuals entering the UK for work and study purposes. This group further contributes to the UK's record-breaking immigration numbers.

5. ONS Immigration Figures Release

The Office for National Statistics is scheduled to release the immigration figures on 25 May. Although government sources have told the Guardian that the high end of the reported figures is unlikely, there has been a significant rise in immigration. The release of these figures is expected to add pressure on the government to address its 2019 pledge to reduce net immigration to "tens of thousands."

6. Cabinet Tensions Over Legal Migration

Cabinet tensions over legal migration have been reported for several months, primarily between Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. The Office for Budget Responsibility has stated that legal migration would help offset slower growth in productivity, while Hunt acknowledged in November that it was "very important" to the economy. Downing Street has recently rejected suggestions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson harbors conflicting aims on the issue.

7. Impact on the Economy

The influx of immigrants from Ukraine, Hong Kong, and other non-EU countries has the potential to impact the UK's economy in various ways. On one hand, an increase in the working-age population can contribute to economic growth and productivity. On the other hand, the sudden surge in immigration may strain public services and housing, leading to potential social and economic challenges.

8. Measures to Control Immigration

In response to the anticipated backlash from MPs and the wider Conservative party, ministers are devising plans to control immigration numbers. One such measure includes stopping family members from joining overseas master's students at British universities. The number of people coming under this provision has risen more than tenfold in four years, from 12,806 in 2018 to 135,788 in the year to December.

9. Skills Shortages and Brexit

The UK's departure from the EU has led to skills shortages in various sectors, prompting the government to rely on immigration policies to fill these gaps. Brexit has given the UK more control over its immigration policies, allowing it to address specific skills shortages and ensure that only those who meet the requirements are granted visas.

10. Conclusion

The UK is facing a likely record rise in immigration due to the influx of people from Ukraine and Hong Kong, as well as non-EU immigration for work and study purposes. Since Brexit instead of a reduction in immigration there has been an increase!  The Leave EU campaign said that there would be a reduction in immigration.  It seems that in practice many Brexiteers are quite pro-immigration. can help with Sponsor Licences

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