Immigration to the United Kingdom (1922-present day)

Immigration to the United Kingdom (1922-present day)

Since the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1922 [The name of the country was formally changed in 1927 from the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" to "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act. However, the change had effectively taken place when the Anglo-Irish Treaty had established the Irish Free State in 1922, granting near-independence to 26 of the 32 counties of Ireland.] there has been substantial immigration from other parts of the world. In particular, migrants have arrived from Ireland and the former colonies of the British Empire - such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya and Hong Kong - under British nationality law. Others have come as asylum seekers, seeking protection as refugees under the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, or from European Union (EU) member states, exercising one of the EU's Four Freedoms.

About half the population increase between the 1991 and 2001 censuses was due to foreign-born immigration. 4.9 million people [ [ Foreign-born population] National Statistics Online, 24 October 2006.] (8.3 percent of the population at the time) were born abroad, although the census gives no indication of their immigration status or intended length of stay.

In 2006, there were 149,035 applications for British citizenship, 32 percent fewer than in 2005. The number of people granted citizenship during 2006 was 154,095, 5 per cent fewer than in 2005. The largest groups of people granted British citizenship were from India, Pakistan, Somalia and the Philippines. [John Freelove Mensah, [ Persons Granted British Citizenship United Kingdom, 2006] , Home Office Statistical Bulletin 08/07, 22 May 2007, accessed 21 September 2007] In 2006, 134,430 people were granted settlement in the UK, a drop of 25 per cent on 2005. [Home Office, [ Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom 2006] , Norwich: TSO, August 2007, accessed 21 September 2007] Meanwhile, migration from Central and Eastern Europe has increased since 2004 with the accession to the European Union of eight Central and Eastern European states, since there is free movement of labour within the EU. The UK government is currently phasing in a new points-based immigration system for people from outside of the European Economic Area.

British Empire & the Commonwealth

During the period 1814-1910 the British Empire covered a large proportion of the globe, at its peak over a third of the world's people lived under British rule. Both during this time, and following the granting of independence to most colonies after World War II, the vast majority of immigrants to the UK were from either current or former colonies, most notably those in the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. These people filled a gap in the UK labour market for unskilled jobs and many people were specifically brought to the UK on ships such as the "Empire Windrush".

In 1962, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed by the British government, restricting the freedom of passage into the UK from other parts of the Commonwealth. By 1972, only holders of work permits, or people with parents or grandparents born in the UK could gain entry - effectively stemming primary immigration from Commonwealth countries.

The Ireland Act 1949 has the unusual status of recognising the Republic of Ireland, but affirming that its citizens are not citizens of a foreign country. This was at a time when a republic was not allowed to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

World War II

"See also: British Germans"

In the lead up to the World War II, many Germans, particularly those belonging to minorities which were persecuted under Nazi rule, such as Jews, sought to emigrate to the United Kingdom, and it is estimated that as many as 50,000 may have been successful. There were immigration caps on the number who could enter and, subsequently, some applicants were turned away. When the UK was forced to declare war on Germany, however, migration between the countries ceased.

Post-war immigration (1945-1983)

Until the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, all Commonwealth citizens could enter and stay in the United Kingdom without any restriction. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 made Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) whose passports were not directly issued by the United Kingdom Government (i.e. passports issued by the Governor of a colony or by the Commander of a British protectorate) subject to immigration control.

Indians began arriving in the UK in large numbers shortly after their country gained independence in 1947. More than 60,000 arrived before 1955, many of whom drove buses, or worked in foundries or textile factories. Later arrivals opened corner shops or ran post offices. The flow of Indian immigrants peaked between 1965 and 1972, boosted in particular by Idi Amin's sudden decision to expel all 50,000 Gujarati Indians from Uganda. Around 30,000 Ugandan Asians migrated to the UK. [cite web|url=|title=1972: Asians given 90 days to leave Uganda|publisher=BBC On This Day|accessdate=2008-05-17]

By 1972, only holders of work permits, or people with parents or grandparents born in the UK could gain entry - effectively stemming primary immigration from Commonwealth countries.

Following the end of World War II, substantial groups of people from Soviet-controlled territories settled in Britain, particularly Poles and Ukrainians. The UK recruited displaced people as so-called European Volunteer Workers in order to provide labour to industries that were required in order to aim economic recovery after the war. [Diana Kay and Robert Miles (1998) [ Refugees or migrant workers? The case of the European Volunteer Workers in Britain (1946–1951)] , "Journal of Refugee Studies" 1(3-4), pp. 214-236] In the 1951 census, the Polish-born population of the UK numbered some 162,339, up from 44,642 in 1931. [Colin Holmes (1988) "John Bull's Island: Immigration and British Society 1871-1971", Basingstoke: Macmillan] [Kathy Burrell (2002) [ Migrant memories, migrant lives: Polish national identity in Leicester since 1945] , "Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society" 76, pp. 59-77]

There was also an influx of refugees from Hungary, following the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, numbering 20,990. [UNHCR (2006) [ 'A matter of the heart': How the Hungarian crisis changed the world of refugees] , "Refugees" 114(3), pp. 4-11]

Contemporary immigration (1983 onwards)

The British Nationality Act 1981, which was enacted in 1983, distinguishes between British citizen or British Overseas Territories citizen. The former hold nationality "by descent" and the latter hold nationality "other than by descent". Citizens by descent cannot automatically pass on British nationality to a child born outside the United Kingdom or its Overseas Territories (though in some situations the child can be registered as a citizen).

Immigration officers have to be satisfied about a person's nationality and identity and entry could be refused if they were not satisfied. [ [ Immigration staff can ask Muslim women to remove veils], 26 October 2006]

European Union

One of the Four Freedoms of the European Union, of which the United Kingdom is a member, is the right to the "free movement of people".

Since the expansion of the EU on 1 May 2004, the UK has accepted immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, Malta and Cyprus, although the substantial Maltese and Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities were established earlier through their Commonwealth connection. There are restrictions on the benefits that members of eight of these accession countries can claim, which are covered by the Worker Registration Scheme. [ [ The Worker Registration Scheme] Home Office] Most of the other European Union member states have exercised their right for temporary immigration control (which must end by 2011 [ [ Freedom of movement for workers after enlargement] Europa] ) over entrants from these accession states, [ [ Barriers still exist in larger EU] , BBC News, 1 May 2005] although some are now removing these restrictions. [ [ EU free movement of labour map] , BBC News, 4 January 2007, accessed 26 August 2007]

The Home Office publishes quarterly statistics on the number of applications to the Worker Registration Scheme. Figures published in August 2007 indicate that 682,940 people applied to the scheme between 1 May 2004 and 30 June 2007, of whom 656,395 were accepted. [Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and Communities and Local Government, [ Accession Monitoring Report: A8 Countries, May 2004-June 2007] , 21 August 2007, accessed 26 August 2007.] Self-employed workers and people who are not working (including students) are not required to register under the scheme so this figure represents a lower limit on immigration inflow. These figures do not indicate the number of immigrants who have since returned home, but 56 per cent of applicants in the 12 months ending 30 June 2007 reported planning to stay for a maximum of three months. Figures for total immigration show that there was a "net" inflow of 64,000 people from the eight Central and Eastern European accession states in 2005. [ [ 1,500 migrants arrive in UK daily] , BBC News, 2 November 2006, accessed 2 November 2006] An investigation by more4 found that Poles (who make up the majority of those registered with the WRS) currently represent a substantial proportion of the population of some UK cities. [ Pole positions] , Investigation into the influx of Polish immigrants into the UK: More4 News, 6 June 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2006.] Research suggests that a total of around 1 million people had moved from the new EU member states to the UK by April 2008, but that half this number have since returned home or moved on to a third country. [cite web|url=|title=Floodgates or turnstiles? Post-EU enlargement migration flows to (and from) the UK|author=Naomi Pollard, Maria Latorre and Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah|publisher=Institute for Public Policy Research|date=2008-04-30|accessdate=2008-04-30] [cite news|url=|title=Half EU migrants 'have left UK'|publisher=BBC News|date=2008-04-30|accessdate=2008-04-30]

The Government announced that the same rules would not apply to nationals of Romania and Bulgaria when those countries acceded to the EU in 2007. Instead, restrictions were put in place to limit migration to students, the self-employed, highly skilled migrants and food and agricultural workers. [ [ Reid outlines new EU work curbs] , BBC News, 24 October 2006. Retrieved 24 October 2006.] Statistics released by the Home Office indicate that in the first three months of Romania and Bulgaria's EU membership, 7,120 people (including family members) from the two countries successfully registered on the various schemes. [Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions, [ Bulgarian and Romanian Accession Statistics, January-March 2007] , 22 May 2007, accessed 26 May 2007.] Between April and June 2007, a further 9,335 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals had their applications granted. This includes those registering as self-employed and self-sufficient. An additional 3,980 were issued cards for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS). [Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions, [ Bulgarian and Romanian Accession Statistics, April-June 2007] , 21 August 2007, accessed 26 August 2007.]

Managed migration

"Managed migration" is the term used for all legal work permits and visas and this accounts for a substantial percentage of overall immigration figures for the UK. Many of the immigrants who arrive under these schemes bring skills which are in short supply in the UK. This area of immigration is managed by Work Permits (UK), a department within the Home Office. Applications are made at UK Embassies or Consulates or directly to Work Permits (UK), depending upon the type of visa or permit required.

Employer Sponsored Work Permits allow employers to sponsor an employee's entrance into the UK by demonstrating that they possess skills that cannot be found elsewhere. Immigrants who have education or experience in occupations which are listed on the "Skills Shortage List" [ [ Skills Shortage List] ] may apply for a work permit. This includes engineers, doctors, nurses, actuaries and teachers. Employers can also obtain work permits for occupations not on the Skills Shortage List by advertising the position and demonstrating that no suitable UK resident or EU worker can be found. Approvals for a work permit are usually based upon the suitability of the applicant to the role, by education and/or experience.

In addition there is a points-based system called the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) which allows a highly skilled migrant to enter the UK with the right to work without first having to find an offer of employment and without an employer needing to sponsor the visa. Points are awarded for education, work experience, past earnings, achievements in the field and achievements of the applicant's partner. There are also points for being aged under 28 and for doctors currently working in the UK.

Some people work in the UK under a Working holiday visa which allows 12 months of work within a 24 month period for those aged 17 to 30. UK Ancestry Entry Clearance allows a person to work in the UK for five years if they have a grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man at any time; or a grandparent born in what is now the Republic of Ireland on or before March 31, 1922. After that they may apply for Indefinite leave to remain.

In April 2006 changes to the current Managed Migration system were proposed that would primarily create one points-based immigration system for the UK. The replacement for HSMP (Tier 1 in the new system) gives points for age and none for work experience. This points based system is being phased in over the course of 2008. [cite web|url=|title=The points-based system|publisher=Border & Immigration Agency|accessdate=2008-03-09] [cite web|url=|title=Timetable for PBS launch|publisher=Border & Immigration Agency|accessdate=2008-03-09]

For family relatives of European Economic Area nationals living in the UK, there is the EEA family permit which enables those family members to join their relatives already living and working in the UK.

Refugees and asylum seekers

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return (or refoule) refugees to the place where they would face persecution.

Nonetheless the issue of immigration has been a controversial political issue since the late 1990s. Both the ruling Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives have suggested policies perceived as being "tough on asylum" [ Tom Bentley [ Please, not again!] openDemocracy, 11 February 2005] (although the Conservatives have dropped a previous pledge to limit the number of people who could claim asylum in the UK, which would likely have breached the UN Refugee Convention) [ [ Q&A: Conservatives and Immigration] , BBC News, 9 Novermber 2006, accessed 13 December 2007] and the tabloid media frequently print headlines about an "immigration crisis". Roy Greenslade [ Seeking scapegoats: The coverage of asylum in the UK press (PDF)] , Institute for Public Policy Research, May 2005 ]

This is denounced by those seeking to ensure that the UK upholds its international obligations as disproportionate. Critics suggest that much of the opposition to high levels of immigration by refugees is based on racism. Concern is also raised about the treatment of those held in detention and the practice of dawn raiding families, and holding young children in immigration detention centres for long periods of time.

However, critics of the UK's asylum policy often point out the "safe third country rule" - the international agreement that asylum seekers must apply in the first free nation they reach, not go "asylum shopping" for the nation they prefer. EU courts have upheld this policy. [ [ First Aid for asylum seekers]]

In February 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised on television to reduce the number of asylum seekers by half within 7 months, [ [ Blair's asylum gamble] BBC News 7 February, 2003] apparently catching unawares the members of his own government with responsibility for immigration policy. David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, called the promise an "objective" rather than a "target". [ [ Ministers back down on asylum pledge] BBC News 10 February, 2003] It was met according to official figures, [ [ Blair's asylum target met] BBC News 27 November, 2003 ] despite increase world instability caused by the Iraq War. There is also a Public Performance Target to remove more asylum seekers who have been judged not to be refugees under the internation definition than new anticipated unfounded applications. This target was met early in 2006. [ [ Public performance target: removing more failed asylum seekers than new anticipated unfounded applications] Home Office] Official figures for numbers of people claiming asylum in the UK were at a 13 year low by March 2006. [ [ UK asylum claims at '13-year low'] BBC News 17 March 2006] Opponents of the government's policies on asylum seekers and refugees, such as Migration Watch UK [ [ Migration Watch] Anti-immigration website in the UK] and some newspapers are critical of the way official figures are calculated.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have argued that the government's new policies, particularly those concerning detention centres, have detrimental effects on asylum applicants [ [ Seeking asylum is not a crime: Detention of people who have sought asylum (PDF)] Amnesty International, 20 June 2005 ] and those facilities have seen a number of hunger strikes and suicides. Others have argued that recent government policies aimed at reducing 'bogus' asylum claims have had detrimental impacts on those genuinely in need of protection. [Laurence Cooley and Jill Rutter (2007) [ Turned away? Towards better protection for refugees fleeing violent conflict] , "Public Policy Research" 14(3), pp. 176-180]

Illegal immigration

Illegal (sometimes termed "irregular") immigrants in the UK include those who have:
* entered the UK without authority
* entered with false documents
* overstayed their visas

Although it is difficult to know how many people reside in the UK illegally, a Home Office study released in March 2005 estimated a population of between 310,000 and 570,000. [ [ The thorny issue of illegal migrants] BBC News, 17 May 2006.] Migration Watch UK has criticised the Home Office figures for not including the UK-born dependent children of unauthorised migrants. They suggest the Home Office has underestimated the numbers of unauthorised migrants by between 15,000 and 85,000. [ The illegal Migrant Population in the UK] Migration Watch UK, Briefing paper 9.15,Migration Trends.] In the past the UK government has stated that the figures Migration Watch produces should be treated with "considerable caution". [ [ Immigration: Fact or hype?] By Dominic Casciani, BBC News, 5 August 2002.]

A recent study into irregular immigration states that "most irregular migrants have committed administrative offences rather than a serious crime". [ [ Irregular migration in the UK: An ippr factfile] Institute for Public Policy Research, April 2006, p. 5.]

Jack Dromey, Deputy General of the Transport and General Workers Union and Labour Party treasurer, suggested in May 2006 that there could be around 500,000 illegal workers. He called for a public debate on whether an amnesty should be considered. [ [ Amnesty call over illegal workers] BBC News, 20 May, 2006.] David Blunkett has suggested that this might be done once the identity card scheme is rolled out. [ [ Blunkett: Immigration amnesty on cards], 14 June 2006] London Citizens, a coalition of community organisations, is running a regularisation campaign called "Strangers into Citizens", backed by figures including the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, the Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. [Joe Boyle, [ Migrants find a voice in the rain] , BBC News, 7 May 2007, accessed 21 May 2007] .

In February 2008, the government introduced new £10,000 fines for employers found to be employing illegal immigrants where there is negligence on the part of the employer, with unlimited fines or jail sentences for employers acting knowingly [cite news|url=|title=£10,000 fines for employing illegal migrant without check|author=Richard Ford|publisher="The Times"|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-03-22]


ee also

*Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
*British Afro-Caribbean community
*British Asian
*British Chinese
*British nationality law
*British national identity card
*Life in the United Kingdom test
*Greeks in Great Britain
*Border and Immigration Agency
*Migrant literature
*Migration Watch UK
*Rivers of Blood speech
*Refugee Council
*EEA family permit
*UK Borders Act 2007‎

External links

* [ Immigrants: The inconvenient Truth] (A Channel 4 video documentary analyzing the pros and cons of immigrants coming over from various countries to the UK.)
* [ Indians largest group among new immigrants to UK]
* [ National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns]
* [ Barbed Wire - Network to End Migrant and Refugee Detention]
* [ Born Abroad: An Immigration Map of Britain] (BBC, 2005)
* [ Destination UK] , BBC News special
* [ Optimum Population Trust]
* [ History of Chinese immigration to Britain]
* [ Immigration & Nationality Directorate] at the Home Office
* [ Moving Here] , the UK's biggest online database of digitised photographs, maps, objects, documents and audio items from 30 local and national archives, museums and libraries which record migration experiences of the last 200 years
* [ Summary of UK immigration rules] from the Home Office
* [ hWeb - An outline of the immigration pattern of the Pakistani community in Britain]

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