New figures showing an annual rise in net migration to the UK have provoked fierce debate but many myths persist about the effects of immigration.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions:
'Migration is higher than ever before '
Annual net migration actually dipped in the year to September compared to the record-setting figures on the 12 months to June, from 336,000 to 323,000.
Although the latest number is still a rise on 2014, only 2,000 more people immigrated to the UK in the latest period analysed.
“The latest increase in net migration was not statistically significant compared with 2014,” a spokesperson for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
“This net increase was the result of a decrease in emigration…and immigration being at a similar level to the previous year.”
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 refugee crisis is pushing immigration out of control'
As stated above, the main cause of the rise in net migration is not immigration itself but a drop in emigration.
Asylum applications also rose for the fifth successive year in the UK according to the ONS, but the increase is negligible in light of the arrival of more than 1 million refugees in Europe.
The number of applications lodged in the year to September 38,878, an annual increase of 20 per cent, the figure is nowhere near the UK’s 2002 peak of 103,000.
Germany, by contrast, had taken more than 353,000 applications in the year to October, while Hungary was on 204,000 and Sweden on 94,000.
The rate of asylum seekers per million people in the UK was 185, lower than Ireland, Iceland and Switzerland.
Most refugees arriving in Britain last year came from Eritrea, followed by Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.
An additional 1,200 Syrians granted humanitarian protection under the Government’s resettlement scheme, which was introduced after David Cameron refused to sign up to EU quotas, 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.
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.
'Immigrants are coming here for benefits'
One of the most frequently raised allegations about immigrants entering the UK is that they aim to exploit the national welfare system, despite numerous studies showing European migrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
David Cameron once called public concern about benefits tourism “widespread and understandable” but research has not found a statistical foundation for the fears.
Recent immigrants have made a net contribution of £20 billion to the UK over the last ten years, according to a UCL study, and foreigners are barred from several types of benefits without having permanent residency in the UK, unlike those on work visas, students and asylum seekers don't qualify.
In 2013, a spokesperson for the European Employment Commissioner said the British Government had “completely failed to come up with any specific evidence” to show that its welfare system was being abused and that EU nationals pay more in tax and other contributions than they receive in benefits.
In that same year, a European Commission report showed that unemployed EU migrants made up less than 5 per cent of migrant claimants across the bloc and that fewer than 38,000 were claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.
A leaked Home Office document later admitted that the Government keeps no figures on how many EU nationals claim welfare payments.
A study by University College London estimated that migrants coming to the UK since 2000 have been 43 per cent less likely to claim benefits or tax credits compared to the British-born workforce. “Immigrants, especially in recent years, tend to be younger and better educated than the UK-born and less likely to be unemployed,” the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE concluded in a separate report.
'Immigrants are taking our jobs'
The latest ONS statistics show that employment rates for arriving migrants are high.
Of the 290,000 people who immigrated for work in the year to September 2015, almost 60 per cent had already secured a job and the share rose to two thirds for Romanians and Bulgarians.
Around 165,000 EU citizens came to the UK for work-related reasons, with 96,000 arriving to a “definite job” and 69,000 looking for work.
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 following policy restrictions brought in by the Conservative government.
Britain’s rising immigrant stars
Britain’s rising immigrant stars
Sportsman Al Bangura is helping Sport for Freedom and the Premier League raise awareness to stop child trafficking
Novelist and ﬁlm-maker Xiaolu Guo came to London on a scholarship to the UK’s national film school and has settled in east London with her partner and child
Comedian Sajeela Kershi tells her own stories about being a Muslim immigrant
Campaigner Meltem Avcil says: ‘I want Yarl’s Wood closed. These people are not criminals’
Fashion designer Marta Marques has launched her own womenswear label with her partner Paulo Almeida
Scientist Aarti Jagannath won a scholarship from the British Council to study in Britain
Food entrepreneur Edin Basic started Firezza in 2001 with a friend from Mostad
Actor Noma Dumezweni will play an adult Hermione Granger in the West End production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ from July
But the figures do not necessarily mean new arrivals are “taking British jobs”, experts have cautioned.
In its 2015 General Election briefing, the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics observed: “There is still no evidence of an overall negative impact of immigration on jobs, wages, housing or the crowding out of public services.
“Any negative impacts on wages of less skilled groups are small. One of the largest impacts of immigration seems to be on public perceptions.”
Its research found that immigrants tend to be better educated and younger than their UK-born counterparts, while their share of the market for new jobs has remained “broadly the same”.
Jonathan Portes, Principle Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, suggested employment fears may stem from the fact that areas with high immigration, such as London, also tend to be where the job market moves more quickly
“It’s fairly obvious that wages are generally higher and jobs easier to come by in areas of high immigration like London, while many low migration areas have relatively depressed labour markets,” he added.
“It’strue that, if an immigrant takes a job, then a British worker can’t take that job – but it doesn’t meant he or she won’t find another one that may have been created, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.”
'Migration causes crime'
Anti-immigration groups have used fears of criminality as a key focus, particularly following the sex attacks in Cologne and reports of increased crime rates in areas of Europe being directly affected by the refugee crisis.
A report by LSE in 2013 found that crime actually fell significantly in areas that had experienced mass immigration from eastern Europe, with rates of burglary, vandalism and car theft down since 2004.
The research concluded that there was “no causal impact of immigration on crime…contrary to the ‘immigration causes crime’ populist view expressed in some media and political debate”.
Brian Bell, a LSE research fellow, told the Guardian: “The view that foreigners commit more crime is not true. The truth is that immigrants are just like natives: if they have a good job and a good income they don't commit crime.”
A 2008 report for the Association of Chief Police Officers found that national crime rates have continued to fall despite rising net migration over a number of years.
The research found that offending rates among Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian communities were in line with the general population.
'It puts a strain on public services, hospitals and schools'
UCL’s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London found that European immigrants to the UK pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, effectively subsiding public services.
“A key concern in the public debate on migration is whether immigrants contribute their fair share to the tax and welfare systems”, co-author Professor Christian Dustmann wrote.
“Our new analysis draws a positive picture of the overall fiscal contribution made by recent immigrant cohorts, particularly of immigrants arriving from the EU.”
While school places and hospital beds are under pressure in many areas, much of the change arises from rising birth rates, the effects of an ageing population and other factors that local and national government has failed to respond to by expanding provision.
Additionally, figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that 11 per cent of NHS staff are not British, including more than a quarter of doctors.Reuse content