The ONS says the impact of COVID and Brexit saw immigration hit its lowest level in many years.
Net immigration into the United Kingdom fell nearly 90 percent last year to its lowest level since 1993, due to the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit, official figures showed on Thursday.
The Office for National Statistics released the first provisional estimates showing that 34,000 more people moved to the UK last year, down from 271,000 in 2019.
“Immigration was much lower in 2020 than in previous years, possibly due to a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit,” the ONS said.
Concerns about unrestricted immigration from the EU – which in 2015 exceeded 200,000 on a net basis – were a key feature of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Recently, businesses have complained of a shortage of workers due to the lack of immigrants.
The UK left the EU at the end of January 2020 – although EU citizens retained the right to move to the UK until the end of the year – but COVID halted travel abroad from the end of March 2020.
The pandemic also severely hampered the ONS’s ability to collect migration data as it discontinued its traditional practice of surveying passengers at airports and seaports.
The ONS said the provisional data is based on experimental statistical modeling and is likely to be revised, with projected estimates for 2020 ranging from a net immigration of 125,000 to a net emigration of 58,000.
Looking at non-British EU citizens alone, there was a net emigration of around 94,000, the ONS estimates.
Unlike most European countries, the UK does not have a system of identity cards or mandatory registration for residents to make it easy to check migration flows.
ONS statistician Jay Lindop said, “While there is no evidence of migration from the UK in 2020, with global travel restrictions meaning that people’s movement was limited, all data sources suggest migration has fallen to its lowest level for many years.” Gaya.”