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Growing International Migration Trend Affecting U.K.

  1. Immigration Blog
  2. Growing International Migration Trend Affecting U.K.

International migration is shaped by economic, geographic, demographic and other factors resulting in distinct migration patterns, such as migration “corridors” The growing concerns around rising immigration in the United Kingdom has coincided with a growing global trend of increasing migration.

The U.N.-backed International Organisation for Migration estimates that there were about 281 million international migrants — people living outside their country of birth — in the world in 2020, or 3.6 per cent of the global population. That was 128 million more than in 1990 and over three times the estimated number in 1970.

The increase in international migrants has been evident over time, "and at a slightly faster rate than previously anticipated," IMO said in its 2022 annual report. The number of international migrants increased in all U.N. regions in the recent past but to a greater degree in Europe and Asia, it said.

Net migration in the United Kingdom climbed to a record 745,000 in 2022, about three times the annual average before the pandemic, piling pressure on the government to take steps to curb immigration. Curbing the inflow of foreigners was a key election plank of the ruling Conservative Party.

The Home Office announced a series of measures in December to curb immigration, including scrapping dependant visas for care workers, increasing the threshold salary to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa to £38,700 from £26,200 and disallowing foreign students not involved in research to bring in dependants from January 1, 2024. All of this should help to cut net migration by about 300,000 a year, it has said.

International migration is not uniform across the world but is shaped by economic, geographic, demographic and other factors resulting in distinct migration patterns, such as migration “corridors” developing over many years, according to IMO.

Migration corridors represent an accumulation of migratory movements over time and provide a snapshot of how migration patterns have evolved into significant foreign-born populations in specific destination countries.

More than 40 percent of all international migrants worldwide in 2020, which is 115 million, were born in Asia and nearly 20 percent originated from six Asian countries — India, the largest country of origin, followed by China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines and Afghanistan. Mexico was the second largest country of origin, and the Russian Federation ranked third.

Several European countries have sizeable population of immigrants including Ukraine, Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania and Germany.

The largest corridors tend to be from developing countries to larger economies such as those of the United States, France, the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, IMO said. International migrants, for instance, make up about 88 percent of the population of the United Arab Emirates.

The United States of America has been the main country of destination for international migrants since 1970. The number of foreign-born people residing in the U.S. more than quadrupled to close to 51 million in 2019 from less than 12 million in 1970. Germany, the second-ranked destination for migrants, has seen its international migrant population jump to nearly 16 million in 2020 from 8.9 million in 2000.

Poland is the biggest source country for international migrants in the United Kingdom at 835,975, followed by India at 835,359 and Pakistan at 537,047, according to IMO data.

According to IMO’s annual report Europe and Asia each hosted around 87 and 86 million international migrants, respectively, comprising 61 percent of the global international migrant stock. These regions were followed by North America, with almost 59 million international migrants in 2020 or 21 percent of the global migrant stock, Africa at 9 per cent, Latin America and the Caribbean at 5 per cent, and Oceania at 3 percent.

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