The number of European heading to Britain or returning back to the mainland has returned to migration levels last seen in 2014, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Thursday.
“Following record levels of migration during 2015 and 2016, statistics for the year ending September 2017 show net migration was 244,000.
“The figure is reached by counting the numbers arriving in Britain and subtracting the numbers who departed.
“During the review period 578,000 people arrived in Britain and 334,000 left the country,’’ ONS said.
ONS said the latest statistics now show that the numbers arriving in Britain from around the world exceeded those heading to Britain from EU countries.
ONS said the increase in non-EU net migration is mainly accounted for by the increase in net migration of Asian citizens, many of them coming to study in Britain.
Net migration for people from outside of the EU was 205,000, made up of 135,000 citizens of Asia and 60,000 from other non-EU countries.
The figures show that in spite of the fall in the movement of EU nationals there are still more people arriving in Britain from member states of the bloc than those are leaving.
The latest net migration figure of EU nationals is now 90,000, less than half of the net migration in June 2016 when it was 196,000.
ONS Head of International Migration Statistics Nicola White said: “Today’s figures show that 244,000 more people are coming to the UK than leaving.
“So net migration is adding to the UK population and is at a similar level to early 2014,’’ ONS head noted.
However White pointed out that the EU net migration has fallen as fewer EU citizens are arriving, especially those coming to Britain to look for work.
According to White, the figure has now returned to the level seen in 2012 as the number leaving has risen.
“The figures also show that non-EU net migration is now larger than EU net migration, mainly due to the large decrease in EU net migration over the last year,’’ White added.
The ONS head said Brexit could be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from Britain.
However, ONS said that the number of students coming to Britain increased year-on-year by 29,000 to 163,000 in 2017.
There have been calls by British universities to drop the number of overseas students coming to study in the UK, saying this distorts the overall figures.