Migration Watch Study on Post-Brexit Immigration: Where Did it All Go Wrong?

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The Migration Watch think tank recently published a study claiming that the government’s Brexit plan could lead to an annual rise in immigration of about 100,000 people. Not long after the study was released, Migration Watch withdrew it due to major flaws in their calculations.

The estimated figure of 100,000 was supposed to represent future net migration – immigration verses emigration - in the UK. The annual figure currently stands around 273,000 and was predicted to rise to about 380,000 in post-Brexit Britain.

Before it’s withdrawal, the study was widely publicised in the press.

So, where exactly did Migration Watch go wrong?

Migration Watch claimed to have used the government’s White Paper on immigration, which outlines the plans for a revised, post-Brexit immigration system which prevents the free movement of EU immigrants across the border.

Migration Watch’s estimated 100,000 increase is largely based on the assumption that in post-Brexit Britain, there will be a lower salary threshold for workers to be permitted entry into the UK of £21,000, therefore resulting in this increase. However, the current minimum salary for obtaining a Tier 2 visa to the UK is £30,000, and, whilst the government has hinted this may be lowered, the White Paper has not set out any firm plans to change this.

The Home Office stated that the Migration Watch report is unfounded in truth and inaccurate, standing by the fact that the £30,000 threshold will draw more skilled and talented immigrants to the UK.

Furthermore, the Migration Watch report used current visa figures to estimate future immigration figures. This means that they included short-term immigrants - those who only come to work or study in the UK for less than a year, and even people who obtain visas but never actually come to the UK. Migration Watch’s figure of 456,000 per annum for granted visas to represent current immigration levels is therefore not at all representative of the current long-term immigration figures. The actual figure is somewhere around 290,000.

Whilst official estimations of immigration cannot be faultlessly accurate and have been subjected to constant scrutiny, Migration Watch seriously over-estimated future immigration levels. Basing a study on flawed estimations and the assumption that the government will do something it has barely alluded to, leads to the spreading of misinformation and confusion amongst society. These days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who to trust to gain a clear picture of immigration in Britain.

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