According to official numbers released on Thursday, net migration to the UK reached a record high of about 504,000 in the year ending in June 2022, led by an increase in non-EU nationals.
The uptick, according to the Office for National Statistics, was caused by a rebound in travel after COVID-19 and an increase in the number of overseas students who had been studying remotely throughout the epidemic.
In the year up to June, there were an estimated 1.1 million long-term immigrants, up 435,000 from the year before. EU citizens made up the majority of those departing from Britain.
According to the ONS, three new visa programs—for war refugees from Ukraine, Afghan refugees, and British nationals from Hong Kong—added a total of 186,000 additional entrants.
“A series of world events have impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together these were unprecedented,” Jay Lindop, director of the ONS Center for International Migration, said.
As some industry executives urged the government to liberalize immigration to support growth, migration levels have once more made headlines in Britain in recent weeks. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rejected such on Monday, emphasizing instead the need to address illegal immigration.
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, and Sunak have also come under pressure to do more to deter unauthorized immigrants from risky Channel crossings. The government has come under fire for the conditions at an overcrowded processing facility in southern England and a firebomb attack on a nearby site.
Britain and France agreed to step up measures to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel earlier this month.
According to data issued by the government on Thursday, 33,029 persons were discovered crossing the English Channel in small boats between January and September of this year, with 61% of those arrivals occurring during the summer months of July to September.
Since data collection began, August saw the most small boat arrivals of any month, according to the report.