There has been a sharp influx from European countries into the United Kingdom over the past 15 years. Estimates show that 3.6 million EU-born migrants lived in the UK in 2019, making up 5.5 percent of the UK’s population.
While the dispute over EU membership has deepened with Brexit, the attraction of immigrating to the UK has not diminished. In fact, immigration has strengthened due to a range of pull factors which include:
- Employment and Business Opportunities
- Escaping Poverty, Natural Disasters or Political volatility
- Access to Schools and Health Care
- Reuniting with Friends and Family
- Unfavourable Climate
Who is Immigrating to the UK?
The migration level to the UK has seen an upswing in the 12 months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. The peak is believed to have been driven by an increase in non-EU students arriving to study. These students hail primarily from China and India, translating to about 257,000 individuals coming for formal studies. Further statistics show that out of those immigrating to the UK, 458,000 moved for work, family or other reasons. EU citizens also steadily contribute to the UK population, with 195,000 EU citizens moving to the UK to stay 12 months or more.
Also Read: EU Citizens: Staying in the UK After Brexit
How to Gain Citizenship or Residency in the UK
While the rapid surge in immigration and net migration is the result of an increase in individuals arriving to study in the UK, there are four categories available to those wishing to immigrate to the United Kingdom:
- Employment-Based Immigration
The entrepreneur category is aimed at individuals who are willing and able to invest a minimum sum of money into the UK economy by starting a new business in the UK or purchasing an existing one.
- Family Immigration
This visa category allows dependent family members, such as minors, spouses and other relatives, to immigrate to the UK under specific regulations and criteria.
- UK Ancestry
Acquiring a UK ancestry visa stipulates that the individual must be a Commonwealth citizen over the age of 17 who is able to prove that a biological grandparent was born in the United Kingdom.
- Study-Based Immigration
A student visa requires the individual to be able to prove acceptance to a recognised UK academic institution for a full certified degree or a course spanning at least 15 hours of formal study per week.
- Investor Visa Programme
This is the best option for wealthy investors to qualify for leave to remain in the UK. A UK residence permit can be obtained for the entire family within eight weeks provided the applicant has at least £2 million personal funds in his/her bank account for at least three months before the application.
Also Read: UK’s New Points System and the Value of Commonwealth Status
The Brexit Affect
With the UK currently in a transitional phase, it remains to be seen what effect Brexit will have on the strength of the British passport. Notably, more and more Britons are looking at alternative citizenship options, particularly through Citizenship by Investment to maintain their freedom of movement.