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How Large is the U.K.'s Immigrant Population?

  1. Immigration Blog
  2. How Large is the U.K.'s Immigrant Population?

The proportion of the foreign-born population as a percentage of the total in the U.K. is identical to that in the United States and Spain

Immigration is a huge issue in the United Kingdom! Barely a day goes by when concerns about the inflow of foreigners is not raised by somebody in the government in some form.

Television channels often show dramatic clips of immigrants crossing the English Channel in small boats into the U.K. to seek asylum. It has also been a lingering issue as well and one of the main drivers for the country finally exiting the European Union in 2020 after holding a referendum in 2016. We will explore several themes relating to immigration here and how it affects the U.K.

A good first question to consider is the size of the problem itself. Migration levels fluctuate from year to year but longer term, a useful measure of immigration is to consider the size of the foreign-born population as a percentage of the population in a country. Countries with high levels of net migration — people immigrating minus those emigrating — develop larger foreign-born or migrant populations over the long run.

According to research by The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, the U.K.’s foreign-born population was about 14 percent of the total by the beginning of the 2020s. This share is identical to that in some other high-income countries such as the United States and Spain.

The U.K. had an estimated population of 68.1 million at the end of June 2023, according to the Office of National Statistics, so about 9.5 million of these would be foreign-born.

But the proportion of the foreign-born population in the U.K. is lower than that in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. That percentage in Australia, for instance, is more than double that of the U.K. By contrast, the U.K. has a higher share of foreign-born people in the population compared to Italy, Portugal and most East European countries.

If you have a question or would like our team's assistance with any immigration matters please get in touch through our contact form or by phone. We will be happy to provide the latest information and expert advice relevant to your specific requirements.

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