What is migration all about? 

People want to come and live in the UK - but many also want to leave!   The key issue is net migration, not merely immigration as such.

  • Immigration concerns government policy regarding who to allow into the UK (see discussion below).  The word "immigration" has become politically loaded and is often conflated with migration,
  • The phrase "illegal migration" is a purely political catchphrase. Somewhat tellingly, the Home Office in fact uses the phrase "irregular migration" instead to cover this (see below).

The UN defines migration as follows (https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/migration):

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) defines a migrant as any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a State away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of

  1. the person’s legal status
  2. whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary
  3. what the causes for the movement are; or
  4. what the length of the stay is.

It is clear that migration is an inevitable fact of life and will always be with us.

Therefore, the issue is how migration can be humanely managed, given this inevitability.

Recent (2022) UK data on international migration can be found here:


It provides a snapshot of recent trends - here is a particularly telling example:


What this tells us is that the number of people arriving overall for asylum is at most 13% of the total. The vast majority arriving from non-EU countries arrive for work, study and humanitarian routes (e.g. Hong Kong, Ukraine). Those studying here typically only have temporary study visas and will normally return.

Immigration policy has been significantly restricted by introducing an Australian-style points system so that the Government can prescriptively define who can obtain work and study visas. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-employer-information/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-an-introduction-for-employers

Contributors: Mark Collins, Paul Hazelden, Brian Monahan

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