Migration ‘to rise in 2014 as curbs fail’
NET migration will start to rise again in less than two years as the Government runs out of options for restricting the number of foreign nationals entering the UK, a leading think-tank has warned.
While net migration is forecast to fall to 140,000 next year, from around 180,000 at the end of last March, it is likely to rise again in 2014, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said.
The decline in net migration will be driven by lower numbers of international students from outside the EU, but this is likely to be short-lived, the IPPR said.
A crackdown on foreign students will see UK Border Agency officials conduct interviews with student-visa applicants from “high-risk” countries, while a new inspection regime to ensure colleges are genuine has already led to 150 closures.
International students are included within the Government’s target to get annual net non-EU immigration below 100,000 and it has faced criticism for damaging business and universities by making it harder for non-EU nationals to come to the UK to learn.
IPPR associate director Sarah Mulley said: “Although net migration will fall next year, the Government is fast running out of options for further restricting non-EU immigration in any significant way.
“This may leave future progress against the net migration target dependent on patterns of EU migration and emigration, both of which are unpredictable and largely outside government control.
“The net migration target is leading to bad policy decisions. It is keeping out migrants who make a significant economic contribution and are not the focus of public concerns.”
The IPPR said the next two years will show the “limits” of government action on net migration as it runs out of ways to significantly reduce numbers.
It wants the focus to shift away from migration to integration, the impacts of migration on housing, work, and public services and better cooperation at European and international levels.
The think-tank warned that final figures for 2014, when it expects net migration to rise again, will not be available until after the 2015 general election.
In 2013, it expects further significant falls in non-EU student immigration and steady declines in non-EU immigration for work and family reasons.
It also expects a modest increase in immigration from the EU and a small increase in asylum claims. Higher net emigration by UK nationals is also predicted.
A Home Office spokesman said the Government’s “tough new rules” were already taking effect.
He added: “By introducing major reforms to work, student and family immigration routes we are tackling abuse of the system and net migration is falling, with the number of visas being issued at its lowest since 2005.
“In terms of European immigration, the Government has made clear it will always apply transitional controls on new EU member states. We are also working to cut out abuse of free movement with other member states.”
In a speech this month, Home Secretary Theresa May claimed the clampdown on student visas was blocking thousands of applicants who want to use them as a “backdoor route into working in Britain”.
Border officials are due to carry out interviews with more than 100,000 applicants from outside the EU under changes replacing paper-based checks which Ministers claim are open to abuse.
As part of the crackdown, London Metropolitan University was stripped of its right to teach and recruit students from outside the EU in September
Early this month, UK Border Agency officers raided Leeds Professional College amid claims it was suspected of charging students thousands of pounds for admission to the UK on student visas. Many failed to turn up to classes and were working illegally or disappearing, it was alleged.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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