More people were granted permission to enter the UK long-term from overseas in 2021 than the entire population of Leeds


May 19, 2022

  • Entry clearance grants for foreign nationals to come here on longer-term visas totalled 830,000 – that's more people than live in Leeds. 5% were EU nationals
  • Sponsored study visas were 440,000 – 150,000 more than in 2019
  • Hong Kong admissions added 80,000 and Afghanistan 10,000+
  • Highest asylum claims since 2003, as illegal boat crossings soar

The government promised to reduce immigration levels and deliver firmer border control.

Yet a new Migration Watch UK paper (MW 507 - Non-UK entry grants under the post-Brexit immigration system) finds that there were nearly 900,000 entry grants for overseas nationals coming for work, study, family reasons or resettlement in 2021 – the first year of operation for the post-Brexit visa system. Only around 50,000 entry clearances were for EU nationals.

Of the total, the non-EU element rose to the highest level since available records begin in 2005 (835,000), with 780,000 granted long-term entry.

Rising illegal immigration, which saw more than 35,000 people reported coming without permission by air, boat and lorry during 2021, will only add to the total.

The paper compares Home Office entry grants last year with those from prior years. It finds that, during the first year of the post-Brexit system, grants of permission for non-EU citizens to come here to reside shot up by nearly 175,000 compared with just before the pandemic (2019). It is the highest since at least 2005, when available records begin.

A number of factors were behind the shocking rise in non-EU immigration:

  • 2021 saw the highest number of sponsored study visa grants ever recorded (more than 430,000). 95% or so were to non-EU citizens.
  • 2021 saw the highest number of direct refugee resettlements in history (90,000+) - all to those from outside the EU.
  • A tripling of illegal immigration since 2018 will have fed into what was the highest number of asylum claimants in two decades (over 50,000).

We recently reported that there were seven million GP registrations by migrants between 2010 and 2020 (nearly 700,000 per year) – see our summary. These figures show that pressure on the NHS will continue unabated and likely increase. The cost of housing is also bound to be affected by immigration on such a massive scale.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

The inflow from overseas is now huge and rising. We are seeing the opposite of what the government promised in 2019. Rules were meant to be tighter with numbers coming down. Immigration is now running out of control as longer-term entries skyrocket. Meanwhile, asylum claims from anyone who can make it to UK shores are exploding. The public were duped.

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