The number of people immigrating to live in the UK has reached its highest ever level. Immigration reached 650,000, the highest level recorded annually, just before Britain voted to leave Europe.

Many of those who voted to leave said they were doing so because they wanted curbs on immigration as they felt that immigrants were putting strain on British services and jobs. Most immigrants came from Romania, followed by China and then Poland.

There were record numbers coming from within Europe, with 284,000 EU citizens arriving in the UK. Unusually, that nearly matched numbers from outside the EU, which stood at 289,000.

Net migration

That resulted in net migration staying at what is near to record figures of 335,000 in the 12 months leading up to the end of June. It leaves the government facing a seemingly impossible task, after promising to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 annually.

The Prime Minister’s initiative to lower numbers of overseas students coming into Britain does seem to be working, however, as there were 30,000 fewer international students when compared with figures from the year before.

It is thought that the impending Brexit vote and then its aftermath led to people who wanted to come to the UK taking action in case they were hindered in future. The backlog in EU citizens who applied for residence in the UK soared by more than 23,000 up to 113,000 in the three months following the vote to leave Europe. Numbers of people applying for permanent residency were up 83 per cent in the three months before and three months after the referendum.

While there had been large numbers of Poles registering to work in the UK in previous years, the figure dropped by 35,000 in the year up to September, which is when the statistics are available for. However, there has been an increase of 11 per cent in numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians applying to be able to work in Britain.