Net migration to the UK is rising, with more than double the number of people arriving than leaving the country in 2015.
Estimates for the year from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put net long-term migration at 323,000, an increase of around 10 per cent in the previous year.
“The latest increase in net migration was not statistically significant compared with 2014,” a spokesperson said. “This net increase was the result of a decrease in emigration from 323,000…and immigration being at a similar level to the previous year.”
The number of people arriving in the UK rose by around 2,000 to 617,000 but emigration dropped by almost a tenth to 294,000.
Net migration from the EU, 172,000, saw a slight increase on 2014 and the figure for non-EU citizens was also slightly up at 191,000.
In real terms, EU immigration was up from 246,000 to 257,000, while non-EU immigration was down from 289,000 to 273,000.
The ONS said the changes were “not statistically significant” for either group, although a 15,000 jump in immigration from EU2 countries – Romania and Bulgaria – was notable.
The figures were released days after David Cameron announced the date for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU and were expected to become a key point of contention for opposing camps.
Asylum applications also rose for the fifth successive year to 38,878, an increase of 20 per cent, but the refugee crisis has not pushed the figure anywhere near the 2002 peak of 103,000.
Refugee crisis - in pictures
Refugee crisis - in pictures
A child looks through the fence at the Moria detention camp for migrants and refugees at the island of Lesbos on May 24, 2016.
Ahmad Zarour, 32, from Syria, reacts after his rescue by MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) while attempting to reach the Greek island of Agathonisi, Dodecanese, southeastern Agean Sea
Syrian migrants holding life vests gather onto a pebble beach in the Yesil liman district of Canakkale, northwestern Turkey, after being stopped by Turkish police in their attempt to reach the Greek island of Lesbos on 29 January 2016.
Refugees flash the 'V for victory' sign during a demonstration as they block the Greek-Macedonian border
Migrants have been braving sub zero temperatures as they cross the border from Macedonia into Serbia.
A sinking boat is seen behind a Turkish gendarme off the coast of Canakkale's Bademli district on January 30, 2016. At least 33 migrants drowned on January 30 when their boat sank in the Aegean Sea while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.
A general view of a shelter for migrants inside a hangar of the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, Germany
Refugees protest behind a fence against restrictions limiting passage at the Greek-Macedonian border, near Gevgelija. Since last week, Macedonia has restricted passage to northern Europe to only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who are considered war refugees. All other nationalities are deemed economic migrants and told to turn back. Macedonia has finished building a fence on its frontier with Greece becoming the latest country in Europe to build a border barrier aimed at checking the flow of refugees
A father and his child wait after being caught by Turkish gendarme on 27 January 2016 at Canakkale's Kucukkuyu district
Migrants make hand signals as they arrive into the southern Spanish port of Malaga on 27 January, 2016 after an inflatable boat carrying 55 Africans, seven of them women and six chidren, was rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the Spanish coast.
A refugee holds two children as dozens arrive on an overcrowded boat on the Greek island of Lesbos
A child, covered by emergency blankets, reacts as she arrives, with other refugees and migrants, on the Greek island of Lesbos, At least five migrants including three children, died after four boats sank between Turkey and Greece, as rescue workers searched the sea for dozens more, the Greek coastguard said
Migrants wait under outside the Moria registration camp on the Lesbos. Over 400,000 people have landed on Greek islands from neighbouring Turkey since the beginning of the year
The bodies of Christian refugees are buried separately from Muslim refugees at the Agios Panteleimonas cemetery in Mytilene, Lesbos
Macedonian police officers control a crowd of refugees as they prepare to enter a camp after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
A refugee tries to force the entry to a camp as Macedonian police officers control a crowd after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
Refugees are seen aboard a Turkish fishing boat as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast to Lesbos
An elderly woman sings a lullaby to baby on a beach after arriving with other refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
A man collapses as refugees make land from an overloaded rubber dinghy after crossing the Aegean see from Turkey, at the island of Lesbos
A girl reacts as refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
Refugees make a show of hands as they queue after crossing the Greek border into Macedonia near Gevgelija
People help a wheelchair user board a train with others, heading towards Serbia, at the transit camp for refugees near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija
Refugees board a train, after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, near Gevgelija. Macedonia is a key transit country in the Balkans migration route into the EU, with thousands of asylum seekers - many of them from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia - entering the country every day
An aerial picture shows the "New Jungle" refugee camp where some 3,500 people live while they attempt to enter Britain, near the port of Calais, northern France
A Syrian girl reacts as she helped by a volunteer upon her arrival from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos, after having crossed the Aegean Sea
Refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey
Beds ready for use for migrants and refugees are prepared at a processing center on January 27, 2016 in Passau, Germany. The flow of migrants arriving in Passau has dropped to between 500 and 1,000 per day, down significantly from last November, when in the same region up to 6,000 migrants were arriving daily.
Most refugees came from Eritrea, followed by Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria. The additional 1,200 Syrians granted humanitarian protection under the Government’s resettlement scheme were not counted in the figure.
Rates for granting applications varied widely across different nationals, with almost 90 per cent of Syrians being accepted as refugees compared to just a fifth of Pakistani nationals.
Of the 290,000 people who immigrated for work in 2015, almost 60 per cent had already secured a job and the share rose to two thirds for Romanians and Bulgarians.
Around two million non-British EU nationals are currently working in the UK, as well as 1.2 million non-EU nationals and 28.3 million Brits, according to the latest statistics from the Labour Force Survey.
Visas granted for skilled work and other working visas were on the rise but those for study fell slightly.
James Brokenshire, the immigration minister, said the Government was attempting to reduce migration "to sustainable levels" and hailed the EU deal secured by the Prime Minister as a way of further reducing numbers.
"Our reforms have cut abuse in the student and family visa systems and raised the standards in work routes," he added.
"But net migration remains too high and there is still more work to do.
“Our new Immigration Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will provide new powers to tackle illegal working and make it harder than ever for those with no right to be in the UK to stay here.”
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