User Guide to: Immigration Statistics

Letter to medicine suppliers: 3 August 2020

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1. Introduction

This user guide is designed to be a useful reference document with explanatory notes on the issues and classifications that are key to the production and presentation of the Home Office Immigration Statistics releases.

These statistics have been produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

1.1 Statistics covered

Entry clearance visas granted outside the UK

  • Applications for entry clearance visas to the UK
  • Outcomes of applications for entry clearance visas to the UK

Sponsorship

  • Applicants for both visas and extensions of stay for work who use a Certificate of Sponsorship or a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
  • Sponsoring employers and education institution

Passenger Arrivals (Admissions)

  • Passenger arrivals
  • Passengers initially refused entry

Extensions

  • Outcomes of applications of an extension of stay in the UK
    Settlement
  • Outcomes of applications for Settlement

Citizenship

  • British citizenship applications, grants, and refusals
  • Renunciations of British nationality
  • Attendances at British citizenship ceremonies

Asylum and resettlement

  • Asylum applications, appeals and outcomes
  • Resettlement
  • Age disputes
  • Asylum support
  • Family reunion visas
  • Transfers under Dublin regulation

Immigration Detention

  • People entering, in and leaving immigration detention powers

1.2 Where are the latest published statistics?

Immigration Statistics are published on a quarterly basis, in February, May, August and November each year. Each publication and accompanying data tables can be found on the Immigration Statistics landing page.

The dates of future editions of Immigration Statistics are pre-announced and can be found on the Statistics release calendar.

1.3 Data quality and Limitations

These statistics have been designated as ‘National Statistics’ since 2012, following Assessment 177 conducted by the Office for Statistical regulation (OSR). This means they have been certified as compliant with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

In September 2018, these were re-confirmed as National Statistics, following compliance checks from this OSR report.

All the data received by the Home Office undergo a strict quality assurance process to ensure the data are fit for purpose and published to the highest possible standard. However, as the data come from admin data sources, they are subject to some inaccuracies inherent in any admin data sources.

The data are derived from administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes, which are defined in UK legislation and are recorded under detailed categories on the Home Office’s administrative database.

Unless stated, the data do not require a sampling process for the compilation of the figures and hence have no sampling errors. Once the data has been processed by Home Office Statisticians, a thorough quality assurance process is undertaken. This includes a cross-check of the tables to ensure accurate totals. Logic checks are undertaken to check for anomalies and for consistency against previous totals. Any significant changes are investigated with Home Office operational and policy teams who undertake both regular and ad hoc data cleansing exercises.

After these reconciliation checks, the publication-ready tables and text are checked against the raw data. The prepared text is also checked against the publication-ready tables. Statisticians are responsible for checking that the commentary appropriately describes the trend seen in the data clearly and transparently. Specific details on data quality can be found in the relevant topic sections.

1.4 Feedback and enquiries

We welcome feedback on the Immigration Statistics, which can be provided by email to [email protected]

Press enquiries can be made at the following address:
[email protected] or via telephone at: 0300 123 3535.

Home Office responsible statistician

Bex Newell, Programme Director for Migration Statistics.

2. Conventions and revisions

2.1 Key Terms

Within the background to the statistics section of each topic there are a number of key terms deemed important to understanding the statistics. A collection of other relevant terms and definitions can be found in the Glossary.

2.2 Rounding

Data are mainly provided unrounded in the data tables of the Immigration Statistics release. This is to promote transparency and allow users to investigate the data further.

Caution should be taken when comparing small differences between time periods; while care is taken in collecting and collating all the information obtained, the figures are subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large recording system and are not necessarily accurate to the last digit.

If data are published in a table in a rounded form, the footnotes to that table explain the reasons for doing this.

Percentages are rounded to the nearest per cent.

2.3 Use of symbols

The following symbols have been used in the tables:

: Not available.
z Not applicable.
* Number is too small to be shown.

2.4 Using the data

The summary tables include a high-level overview of the data published in each area. The detailed datasets allow users to explore the data in more detail as required. The ‘contents’ page within the summary tables contains an overview of the available datasets (including hyperlinks).

The List of tables page provides a list of all the tables published in the Immigration Statistics release.

2.5 Revisions to data

Data published in the Immigration Statistics are taken from live operational databases, and as such are subject to revision, in line with the published Home Office revisions and corrections policy. Reasons for scheduled revisions include:

  • late reporting of cases – some cases may be entered onto the system after the time that the data extracts are initially taken.
  • Changes to cases – as cases progress, some of the details of the case may be updated.
  • Data cleansing –data cleansing exercises may lead to changes to the data on the source system.

Data are revised on an annual basis in the August edition of Immigration Statistics. For example, data for 2019 was revised in the August 2020 release. The exceptions to this are:

  • Citizenship and extension data, which are revised in May each year
  • Returns data, where data for the last eight quarters are revised in each release.

Until these revisions have occurred, data should be considered provisional. The ‘revisions analysis’ section provides details on the scale of such revisions.

There may be occasions where unscheduled revisions are required. Any revisions or corrections are dealt with according to our published code of practice for revisions and corrections.

Further details on the Home Office revisions policy can be found in the Statement of compliance with the code of practice for statistics.

2.6 Revisions Analysis

The table below shows the revisions to the annual 2019 figures first published in February 2020.

Series Published Feb 20 Revisions Published Aug 20 Percentage change
Asylum applications (main applicants) 35,566 35,737 +0.5%
People claiming asylum (inc. dependants) 44,494 45,537 +2.3%
Asylum initial decisions (main applicants) 20,790 20,766 -0.1%
Enforced returns 7,361 7,354 -0.1%
Refused entry at port and subsequently departed 17,815 18,057 +1.4%
Voluntary returns 11,421 12,003 +5.1%
People entering detention 24,443 24,480 +0.2%
Children entering detention 73 98 +34.2%
People leaving detention 24,512 24,544 +0.1%
Children leaving detention 73 101 +38.4%
Grants of an extension of stay (inc. dependants) 293,812 292,563 -0.4%
Grants of settlement (inc. dependants) 91,307 91,439 +0.1%
Entry clearance visas granted (inc. dependants) 3,179,235 3,171,721 -0.2%
Citizenship grants (all) 159,380 159,380 n/a
Admissions (total passenger arrivals, millions) 146.3 146.3 0.0%
Admissions (Non-EEA national arrivals, millions) n/a n/a n/a

Note:

  1. Data revisions on the number of children entering and leaving detention occur when a more recent data extract is used to produce the figures. Later extracts will reflect changes made to date of birth information about individuals (after reviews, new evidence or ‘Merton’ assessments). These changes do not alter the total number of people entering (which only changed by 0.2% for the 2019 totals published in August 2020) or leaving detention but may increase or decrease the number of children reported as entering or leaving detention.

3. Entry Clearance Visas

3.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to Entry Clearance Visas.

A complete list of published data on Entry Clearance Visas can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release.

3.2 Data source

The statistics on entry clearance visas are sourced from the Home Office Proviso-Central Referencing System (CRS) visa casework system maintained by the Home Office International Group and processed by ‘posts’. The information is gathered for the purpose of processing entry clearance visa applications.

3.3 Background on the statistics

Before being allowed to travel and enter to the UK, a person may be required to apply for and be granted a visa, depending on their nationality, purpose of visit and intended length of stay – this is known as an entry clearance visa.

Visa-nationals require a visa to enter the UK, regardless of length or purpose of stay.

Non-Visa nationals require a visa if they are coming to the UK for a period longer than six months, or for most types of work.

Dependants joining/accompanying are dependants applying for a visa on the basis of their relationship with another migrant, who is not a settled person or British citizen.

We have aggregated these visa data into 4 overarching categories of Work, Study, Family and Other. These categories are descriptive to give the user a general idea of the main routes of entry into the UK, split into topics, with further disaggregation in the detailed datasets allowing for analysis of specific visa type data.

New immigration system:

From January 1st 2021 many of the visa privileges offered to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens are being brought in line with those for other international citizens. This comes as part of the UKs new immigration system which will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally.

Prior to 1 January 2021 EU, EEA and Swiss citizens did not require a visa to enter, stay, study or work in the UK in most cases. This unique status is being changed for all but Irish citizens. EU citizens moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 to live, study or work will need to acquire a visa in advance. EU citizens applying for a work visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor and those applying for a study visa will need confirmation of acceptance at an approved education institution. However, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will continue to be able to travel to the UK for holidays or short trips without needing a visa

3.4 Work

The work category refers to visas and permits granting entry or extending permissions to stay in the UK for reasons relating to work. This contains visas under:

  • High value
  • Skilled work
  • Youth mobility and temporary worker
  • Other work
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) are required by individuals applying for a visa to work in the UK as either a ‘skilled’ or ‘temporary’ worker. See Sponsorship section for more details.

3.5 Family

The family category refers to visas and permits granting entry or extending permissions to stay in the UK for reasons relating to family. This contains visas under:

  • Family-related visas (for partners, children and other dependants)
  • Oher dependants granted visas to join or accompany migrants with visas for other purposes, such as work and study
  • EEA family permits
  • EU Settlement Scheme family permits.

The EU Settlement Scheme family permit is an entry clearance route that launched on 30 March 2019. It is not an application to the EU Settlement Scheme, but allowes a dependent to join, or accompany, an EEA or Swiss citizen who has been granted indefinite or limited leave under the EUSS.

The EEA family permit provides for entry into the UK of a non-EEA citizen family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen who is exercising Treaty rights, as implemented in UK law through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (the EEA Regulations).

3.6 Study

The study category refers to visas granting entry or extending permissions to stay in the UK for reasons relating to study. This contains visas under

  • Sponsored study
  • Short-term students
  • Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)

Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) are required when applying for a student visa or extension to study in the UK. See Sponsorship section for more details.

3.7 Other

The Other category refers to miscellaneous visas outside the categories of work, family and study. The main visa type within this category is the visitor visa.

3.8 Changes to data affecting the statistics

Between the second quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2011, improvements were made to the presentation of the statistics. The latest release provides comparable data for all time periods back to the first quarter of 2005.

Due to a change of database in 2004, comparable data are not available for years prior to 2004.

For the release of entry clearance visa statistics in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending September 2019’, the published tables were revised to comprise summary tables and underlying datasets to improve usability and transparency of the data.

For the release of entry clearance visa statistics in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending September 2019’, there has been a change in the broad categorisation of the ECV tables.

Previously the tables included ‘pre-PBS equivalents’ (e.g. work permit holders) in the relevant broad categories for Tier 1, 2, 4, and 5. These were labelled as ‘Tier x & pre-PBS equivalent’ and allowed users to compare the current PBS routes with the most comparable pre-PBS routes. Also, each of the broad categories contained a category called ‘Other permit free employment – X’ where X is High value/skilled/etc.

The “pre-PBS equivalent” routes were replaced and contain negligible grants in recent years. We have, therefore, made the following changes to these categories:

Moved the non-PBS categories into their own non-PBS visa type groups. So ‘Tier X & pre-PBS equivalent’ will become ‘Tier X’ (including only PBS endorsements) and ‘non-PBS Y’ (including all ‘non’ and ‘pre-PBS’ categories), where Y is work or study.

Combined the ‘other permit free employment – X’ categories into one ‘other permit free employment’ category (see table below), which will form part of the ‘non-PBS’ grouping.

The pre-PBS work categories that have been combined into the singular ‘non-PBS work’ category ‘Other permit free employment’ are shown in the below:

Old category:
Other permit free employment – High value
Other permit free employment – skilled
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment not allocated

New category
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment

The ‘pre-PBS equivalent’ breakdowns up to Q2 2019 can be found in the final entry clearance visa tables published in the old format

3.9 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the total numbers of entry clearance visas is considered to be high. These data:

  • administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes
  • scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office
  • regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework
  • undergo a reconciliation process

The main types of errors and other potential quality issues are thought to relate to recording and classification issues. The level of missing data on related fields such as nationality is very low, with such missing data reported as unknown.
.
* where visa endorsements have been replaced, or are no longer used, data for the new endorsement codes are aggregated as far as possible to be comparable with existing data; the data for the new endorsements are presented alongside data for existing endorsements, accompanied by a note to explain the change

3.10 Limitations

As with all administrative data, there will be a small number of cases where data are missing or have been input incorrectly.

The figures of entry clearance visas granted show intentions to visit rather than actual arrivals and individuals can arrive at any time during the period that the visa is valid. Entry clearance visa data therefore provide an indication of the number of people who have an intention to enter the UK.

Figures published in Immigration Statistics releases are shown by quarter and calendar year within the tables and underlying datasets, and on a rolling-year basis in the topic commentary, due to the seasonality of much of the data.

Data in this section refer to the number of Entry clearance visas granted. If an individual was granted a visa more than once in a given period, this has been counted as multiple grants in the statistics. If an individual entered the UK multiple times within the period for which a visa was valid, this has been counted as one grant in the visa statistics.

The data do not show whether, or when, an individual arrived in the UK, what they did on arrival or how long they stayed in the UK.

Year-on-year comparisons of the number of decisions can be affected by quarterly fluctuations in the data. These fluctuations can be examined in the quarterly data in the published tables.

We are unable to show which country an individual has travelled from. While in many cases the nationality of a person arriving into the UK and the country travelled from will be the same, this is not always the case and so nationality and country travelled from cannot be assumed to be equivalent.

  • Data on other topics are included as part of the in the immigration statistics quarterly release:
    • Passenger arrivals, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
    • Statistics specific to work, study and family routes, see the Work, Study and Family topic
    • Extensions of stay, see the ‘How many people continue their stay in the UK?’ topic
  • Sponsorship, see the Sponsorship section.
  • Data on migration applications decided within published standards, and the cost per decision for all permanent and temporary migration applications are published as Official Statistics by the Home Office as part of their performance data.
  • Data on entry clearance visas have been released in a variety of publications; between 1979 and 2002 entry clearance statistics were published in the ‘Control of Immigration: United Kingdom’ and in ‘Entry Clearance Statistics’, a financial year publication, between 2001 and 2008/09; and since the second quarter of 2008 within the Immigration Statistics release and its predecessor.
  • Visa statistics dating back to 2001/02, originally published by the UK Border Agency of the Home Office, are available from the National Archives website.

4.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to Sponsorship.

A complete list of published data on Sponsorship can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release.

4.2 Data source

The statistics on Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) used are extracted from the Home Office’s Sponsorship Management system (SMS). The data derived from SMS are administrative information used by sponsors to allocate certificates.

4.3 Background on the statistics

Within the topic briefs for work and study, the use of CoS and CAS are referred to as ‘sponsored visa applications’.

Certificate of Sponsorship:
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) are required by individuals applying for a visa or to extend a visa to work in the UK as either a ‘skilled’ or ‘temporary’ worker. Previously CoS were used for applications on the Tier 2 and Tier 5 routes.

After an employer (sponsor) has been accepted onto the Register of licensed sponsors:

  • A sponsor is able to apply to the Home Office for an annual allocation of CoS.
  • The Home Office then allocates a number of CoS to the sponsor.
  • The sponsor then assigns a CoS to an individual (who may be applying for a visa from outside the UK or for an extension of stay if already in the UK).
  • The individual then uses the CoS as part of a visa application (or application for an extension of stay).

Sponsors are given an A-rating when they join the register. An A-rating may be downgraded to a B rating at a later stage if the sponsor doesn’t continue to meet their sponsor duties. Sponsors may apply for, and be granted, a premium level of customer service from the Home Office and as such have an A (Premium) rating.

A sponsor may be licensed under more than one route and may have different ratings for each tier.

Industry sector has been classified using the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) listed on the Office for National Statistics website

Further information about CoS is given on gov.uk, UK visa sponsorship for employers.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies:
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) are required when applying for a study visa or to extend a study visa in the UK, in a 4 step processes similar to the one outlined above for CoS.

All Tier 4 sponsors are expected to be education providers who can meet the standards the Home Office have set. A sponsor is given Probationary Sponsor status when it is first granted a licence. When a Probationary Sponsor applies for, and passes, its first annual Basic Compliance Assessment, it will be given Tier 4 Sponsor status.

Legacy sponsors cannot sponsor any new students. They can continue to sponsor existing students who are already studying with them until they finish their course or until their licence expires, whichever happens first

A sponsor may be licensed under more than one category within Tier 4.

In August 2017 data in tables cs_09; cs_09_q; cs_10; and cs_10_q were updated to show a time series for students applying for visas or extensions of stay to study at Russell Group Universities. The Russell Group describe themselves as representing 24 leading UK universities.

Further information about CAS is given on gov.uk. Student sponsor guidance.

4.4 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

In 2015, changes were made to the terminology used for the different types of education provider in Tier 4. The changes ensured that policies that were introduced to only affect certain types of sponsors (for instance, only apply to independent schools) delivered the intended policy impact.

4.5 Data Quality

Overall, the data quality for the numbers of ‘sponsors on the register’ and ‘CoS used’ and ‘CAS used’ is considered to be high. These data:

  • are administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes, which are defined in UK legislation and are recorded under detailed categories on the Home Office’s administrative database;
  • are scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office;
  • include register totals produced directly from the Home Office’s published list (register) of sponsors which is subject to scrutiny by the sponsors themselves, providing external scrutiny checking of the sponsor status, for example.
  • undergo a reconciliation process (total numbers of sponsors matches published totals produced independently by the Home Office).

The main types of errors are thought to relate to recording and classification errors. The level of missing data on related fields such as nationality is very low, with such missing data reported as unknown.

  • information on sponsors’ industry category is self-completed, and may be subject to classification errors (particularly at more detailed levels).

4.6 Limitations

Due to changes to the casework system in October 2019, for 2019 quarter 4 and all of 2020 it has not been possible to break down the number of Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) or Certificates of Sponsorship in ‘out of country’ (visa) applications or ‘in-country’ (extension) applications. As a result, the latest available data relate to the year ending September 2019. The issue was resolved in August 2020, with quarterly data to be resumed in quarter 1 2021.

  • Data on other topics are included as part of the in the immigration statistics quarterly release:
    • Entry clearance visas, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
    • Passenger arrivals, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
    • Extensions, see How many people continue their stay in the UK or apply to stay permanently topic
    • Statistics specific to work, study and family routes, see the Work, Study and Family topic

5. Admissions

5.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to passenger arrivals and initial refusals of entry.

A complete list of published data on arrivals and initial refusals can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release

5.2 Data source

The total number of passengers entering the UK is derived from monthly returns made by Border Force staff based at border control points (ports). Data from smaller ports are included in the returns made by larger ports. Where data are not provided by a port, data are sourced from other organisations (i.e.; Department for Transport; and Eurotunnel).

Non-EEA nationals data were historically sourced from landing cards completed by passengers arriving at UK ports until their discontinuation in May 2019; the withdrawal of landing cards has resulted in a temporary loss to the passenger arrival data broken down by nationality and reason for travel.

EEA nationals (excluding British) were historically sourced from quarterly data from the International Passenger Survey produced by the Office for National Statistics.

British nationals were historically derived from subtracting the non-British arrival data (EEA and non-EEA) from the total arrival data.

5.3 Background on the statistics

Landing cards
On 5 August 2017, the Home Office launched a consultation on ending the requirement for non-EEA passengers to present a paper landing card on arrival into the UK from 1 October 2017. The consultation set out the statistical implications of the change and closed on 2 September 2017. The government confirmed in the Spring Statement that to coincide with the ePassport gates expansion, the government will begin to abolish landing cards for non-EEA travellers. On 20 May 2019 it removed the need for all non-EEA travellers to fill in landing cards upon arrival in the UK and expanded the use of ePassport gates to seven more countries. The government’s response to the consultation was published in May 2019. As anticipated in the original consultation, ahead of new data sources being developed, the withdrawal of landing cards has resulted in a temporary loss to the passenger arrivals data broken down by nationality and reason for travel. The last set of published data on non-EEA nationals arriving in the UK (based on Landing Cards), cover the period 2004 to 2018) are available in ‘Immigration statistics, year ending June 2019 second edition’ . Data on the total number of passenger arrivals will continue to be available as this comes from a different source.

Refused leave to enter’ relates to non-asylum cases dealt with at ports of entry. A person who is initially refused entry may then, where the Border Force Officer deems it to be appropriate, be granted ‘temporary admission’.

The UK has several agreements with France, allowing the UK authorities to carry out immigration and other controls on French territory, called juxtaposed controls, allowing immigration controls to be carried out before a person physically enters the country.

Passengers returning includes both people who are settled in the UK and who have been absent for less than two years, and those subject to a limited leave to enter who have returned within the time limit of that leave.

Refugees, exceptional leave cases and their dependants covers people who have applied for asylum at ports (and their accompanying dependants) and who have been granted asylum, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave or who have been allowed to stay under the Family Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Exercise and are hence given leave to enter.

Others given leave to enter includes people of independent means and their dependants, non-EEA family members of EEA nationals, members of international organisations treated as exempt and serving forces and their dependants.

5.4 Changes to data affecting the statistics

Between February 2006 and May 2008, estimates were used to count non-controlled, non-EEA nationals arriving at Stansted Airport rather than processing individual landing cards. Data relating to controlled arrivals were processed in the normal way.

For 2006 data it was possible to estimate Stansted non-controlled arrivals by category and nationality using 2005 actual figures, but this method could not be used to estimate 2007 and 2008 data. Instead, a very broad estimate has been produced for non-controlled non-EEA arrivals at Stansted that shows total arrivals and the category a passenger was granted leave to enter in. This does not, however, allow an estimation of the greater detail needed for some of the tables, for example nationality by reason of entry.

5.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the passenger arrivals at UK ports of entry is considered to be high.

  • Largely based on administrative counts of the Home Office arrivals processes for non-EEA nationals at UK ports
  • Scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office
  • Regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework
  • Undergo a detailed checking process, including comparison with alternative sources of data at the port level for previous periods, and validation checks

There are data quality issues concerning a very small fraction (<1%) of the admissions totals, for example:

  • Out of the total 20.4 million arrivals in 2018 in the ‘Other category’ (Table adm_03), a very small proportion (189,180) were arrivals where the category of arrival was not known. It has not been possible to revisit these data. This issue has occurred in previous years when: 50,145 arrivals in 2017; 65,050 arrivals in 2016; 30,800 arrivals in 2015; 19,800 arrivals in 2014; 30,000 arrivals in 2013; and 59,700 arrivals in 2012 were recorded as category unknown.
  • A few admissions were shown as being in PBS categories before the start of the PBS. It is not possible to determine the correct category of entry so these eight admissions have been included within the category ‘Others given leave to enter’.

5.6 Limitations

Non-controlled landing cards relating to arrivals at Heathrow and Gatwick terminals were sampled due to the large volume of arrivals at these ports, leading to an estimated total which will differ slightly from the actual total.

Port asylum applicants are usually given temporary admission initially while their claim is being considered, and the grant of leave to enter may therefore occur sometime after the initial entry to the country. These figures are not directly comparable with those in the asylum data since they exclude grants to in-country asylum applicants and include dependants.

Historical data on visitors, students, passengers in transit and passengers returning (previously settled) are based, mainly or partly depending on the category, on a sample of such people.

6. Extensions

6.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to grants and refusals of (in-country) extensions of stay. Information on applications for extensions of stay is not published within the Immigration Statistics releases.

A complete list of published data on extensions can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release

6.2 Data source

The statistics on grants and refusals of extensions of stay are extracted from the Home Office’s Case Information Database (CID). The data are derived from administrative information used for the processing of applications for extension of stay.

6.3 Background on statistics

Statistics on extensions of stay (also known as “after-entry applications to vary leave to remain”) relate to people wishing to extend or change the status of their stay in the UK. An individual is required to apply for an extension or change in status before their existing permission to enter or stay expires. An individual may make more than one application in any given year.

Prior to the 1st January 2021, Swiss an EEA nationals were not subject to immigration control so were not included in the figures

The data in the briefing include dependants, except where stated otherwise, and take account of the outcomes of reconsiderations and appeals.

In the grants of an extension of stay by previous category table, Exe_D02, the ‘current category’ is the category (work, study, family, other) to which an individual extended into in the stated year. Where an individual has extended their leave in the same category, the text describes the extension as a grant allowing an individual to continue as a worker, student or individual in the family route. Where the applicant has extended their leave from their ‘previous category’ to a different ‘current category’, this is described as ‘switching’.

The ‘previous category’ is the category in which an individual was in prior to extending their leave. Individuals in a previous category may be described in the text as a previous or former student (or a previous worker etc). It is not possible to separately distinguish cases with previous leave that follow: (i) an entry clearance visa granted outside the UK; (ii) admission at the border without a visa; or (iii) a previous grant of an extension.

The previous category data relates to main applicants only. Since dependants are granted or refused an extension in line with the main applicant, the results for main applicants broadly apply for their dependants also.

6.4 Changes to data affecting the statistics

Previously the tables included ‘pre-PBS equivalents’ (e.g. work permit holders) in the relevant broad categories for Tier 1, 2, and 5. These were labelled as ‘Tier x & pre-PBS equivalent’ and allowed users to compare the current PBS routes with the most comparable pre-PBS routes. Also, each of the broad categories contained a category called ‘Other permit free employment – X’ where X is High value/skilled/etc.

The “pre-PBS equivalent” routes were replaced a decade ago and contain negligible grants in recent years. We have, therefore, made the following changes to these categories:

  1. Moved the non-PBS categories into their own non-PBS category. So ‘Tier X & pre-PBS equivalent’ will become ‘Tier X’ (including only PBS endorsements) and ‘non-PBS’ (including all ‘non’ and ‘pre-PBS’ categories).
  2. Combined the ‘other permit free employment – X’ categories into one ‘other permit free employment’ category (see table below), which will form part of the ‘non-PBS’ grouping.

Old category:
Other permit free employment – High value
Other permit free employment – skilled
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment not allocated

New category
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment
Other permit free employment

Below compares the current ‘Tier 1 & pre-PBS equivalents’ category and total for just Tier 1.

Year Old group Tier 1 & PBS equivalent New group Tier 1 (High value)
2015 10,198 10,198
2016 6,953 6,953
2017 8,810 8,810
2018 8,653 8,652

6.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the total numbers of those granted an extension of stay is considered to be high. These data are:

  • administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes
  • scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office
  • regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework

The main types of errors are thought to relate to recording and classification errors. The level of missing data on related fields such as sex, category and nationality are low, with such missing data reported as unknown.

6.6 Limitations

The ‘previous immigration category’ field is non-mandatory, meaning caseworkers are not required to complete this field to process a case. As a result, the previous category is not recorded in the system for all grants of extension.

Following the introduction of a new administrative database, the previous immigration category of some Tier 4 General and Tier 4 Child students granted an extension was not recorded as part of the Tier 4 decision making process between 2013 and 2016. The previous immigration category for these cases was estimated. Grants in the work, family and other categories were not affected by this.

In 2018, a further new administrative database called ATLAS was introduced which does not record the previous immigration category. As a result, the previous immigration category of some Tier 4 General students (58%),Tier 2 General (10%), Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers (less than 0.5%) and Tier 2 Ministers of Religion (2%) granted an extension was not recorded as part of the decision-making process. The previous category of these cases has been estimated based on the proportions for those cases where previous category information had been recorded.

In 2019, the previous category information was not recorded for a higher proportion of cases as more case working was transferred to ATLAS. The Migrant Journey dataset, which examines migrants’ journeys through the immigration system, was used to provide a previous category for the vast majority of ATLAS cases where a previous category was not recorded.

Data on other topics are included as part of the in the immigration statistics quarterly release:

  • Entry clearance visas, see How many people come to the UK each year topic
  • Passenger arrivals, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
  • Work, study and family statistics, see the Work, Study and Family topics
  • A short statistical article on ‘Extensions of stay by previous category’, updated by information in the Immigration Statistics, year ending March 2019
  • Data on migration applications decided within published standards, and the cost per decision for all permanent and temporary migration applications are published as Official Statistics by the Home Office as part of their performance data.

7. Settlement

7.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to grants and refusals of settlement. Numbers of applications for settlement are not published within the Immigration Statistics releases.

A complete list of published data on settlement can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release.

7.2 Data source

The statistics on grants and refusals of settlement are extracted from the Home Office’s Case Information Database (CID). The data derived from CID are administrative information used for the processing of applications for settlement.

7.3 Background on statistics

The settlement figures comprise people granted settlement on arrival (also known as ‘indefinite leave to enter’), and people who have applied for settlement having lived in the UK for a certain length of time (also known as ‘on removal of time limit’ or ‘indefinite leave to remain). Settlement generally occurs after a period of five or more years of residency in the UK. Following changes in immigration legislation in the 1980s, the majority of grants (around 98%) are to people already in the country.

Grants are counted once in the year in which they occur; subsequent journeys are counted in Table adm_02. If a settled person is absent from the UK for more than two years, he/she will be treated as a new arrival unless there are special circumstances; immediate settlement may be granted again, in which case the person would be counted in more than one year’s figures of settlement, or the person might be re-admitted with limited leave.

Granted settlement in own right means that the individual was eligible to apply for settlement under one of the provisions of the Immigration Rules and this was not dependent on their relationship to another person (for example, a spouse or parent) already settled or settling at the same time.

Other grants on a discretionary basis include grants after a long period of continuous residence in the UK. It also includes those people granted settlement after applying under the regularisation scheme for overstayers (people who had permission to enter or remain in the UK for a limited time only and who had remained beyond the time allowed) and people granted indefinite leave outside the Immigration Rules under measures aimed at clearing the backlog of outstanding unresolved cases from before March 2007 involving unsuccessful asylum applicants.

Claim to right of abode upheld and other grants includes grants to those previously settled but then were absent from the UK for some time and who, on return, were initially re-admitted with limited leave.

Grants of settlement to refugees and exceptional leave, humanitarian protection and discretionary leave cases are of those granted settlement after a period of residence in the UK. Between July 1998 and 30 August 2005, it also includes grants of settlement at the time of the grant of asylum.

Prior to the 1st January 2021, Swiss and EEA nationals were not subject to immigration control so were not included in the figures.

Historically landing cards were used as a data source for grants and refusals of settlement until their discontinuation in May 2019.

The availability and allocation of resources within the Home Office can also affect the number of decisions.

For the settlement tables, the term ‘Foreign’ means ‘non-Commonwealth’ up to 1998 and ‘non-Commonwealth and non-EEA’ from 1999 onwards.

7.4 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

  • Family formation and reunion grants in 2003 to 2005 and from 2015 are likely to have been affected by the increase in the qualifying period for settlement, delaying grants that may otherwise have occurred earlier;
  • Work-related grants in 2006 to 2008 are likely to have been affected by the increase in the qualifying period in April 2006, delaying grants that may otherwise have occurred earlier; and
  • Asylum-related grants of settlement were at high levels between 2004 and 2007 due to the Family Indefinite Leave to Remain exercise and due to grants to people given exceptional leave four years previously.
  • From 2003 onwards, dependants of EEA and Swiss nationals in confirmed relationships may be shown separately in figures on issues and refusals of permanent residence documents, rather than in figures about settlement. Additionally, from 28 August 2018 dependants of EEA and Swiss nationals in confirmed relationships may also be shown in figures relating to the EU Settlement Scheme.

7.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the total numbers of those granted an extension of stay is considered to be high. These data are:

  • administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes
  • scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office
  • regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework

The main types of errors are thought to relate to recording and classification errors. The level of missing data on related fields such as sex, category and nationality are low, with such missing data reported as unknown.

7.6 Limitations

Table se_05 provides data on grants of settlement following a stay in the UK (on removal of time limit) to non-EEA nationals by age. The age profile is not representative of the age profile of everyone granted settlement, as a relatively high proportion of under 16s are granted settlement on arrival.

When comparing some aspects of settlement data, changes over time in levels of those entering the country, significant changes in the Immigration Rules, enlargement of the European Union, and various Home Office programmes need to be considered.

Data on other topics are included as part of the in the immigration statistics quarterly release:

  • Entry clearance visas, see How many people come to the UK each year topic
  • Passenger arrivals, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
  • Work, study and family statistics, see the Work, Study and Family topics
  • Official statistics on the number of Life in the UK Tests taken and the pass rate for settlement applications
  • Data on migration applications decided within published standards, and the cost per decision for all permanent and temporary migration applications are published as Official Statistics by the Home Office as part of their performance data
  • The ‘Migrant Journey: 2019 report’ is able to look at those who apply for settlement and which visas they used to arrive at that

8. Citizenship

8.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to British Citizenship.

A complete list of published data on citizenship can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release

8.2 Data source

Data from late 2001 onwards are extracted from the Home Office’s Case Information Database (CID), after caseworkers have entered information relating to the applications, decisions and ceremonies attended. Data for 1990 to mid/late 2001 are derived from the legacy administrative database of citizenship grants used before the introduction of CID. Figures for 1962 to 1989 are drawn from the relevant published statistical bulletins or Command Papers for those years.

8.3 Background on the statistics

There are currently six forms of British nationality.

  • British citizens are the majority. They have that citizenship usually through: birth, adoption, descent, registration, or naturalisation; and have the right of abode in the UK.
  • British overseas territories citizens (BOTCs) have citizenship through a connection with a British overseas territory. On 21 May 2002, BOTCs became British citizens.

    • Known as British dependent territories citizens (BDTCs) before February 2002
  • British overseas citizens (BOCs) are a smaller group connected with the former British colonies who, for the most part, did not acquire citizenship of the new country when it attained independence.
  • British nationals (overseas) (BN(O)s) are a separate sub-group of former Hong Kong BDTCs entitled to hold a British passport. The vast majority of British Nationals (Overseas) are ethnically Chinese who became Chinese on 1 July 1997.
  • British subjects (BSs) are a reducing group of people who normally hold that status either

    • by virtue of their birth in Eire (now the Irish Republic) before 1 January 1949;
    • because they were BSs before 1 January 1949 through a connection with a place which became a Commonwealth country on that date and, although they were potentially citizens of that country, did not acquire citizenship of that or any other country before 1 January 1983.
  • British protected persons (BPPs) are a small group of people who hold that status through a connection (normally birth) with a place which was either a UK protectorate, protected state, mandated or trust territory.

Further information on the types of British nationality can be found at Types of British nationality on the Home Office web site.

Citizenship is granted under the British Nationality Act 1981 which came into force on 1 January 1983, subsequently amended by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. Categories of grants relate to the section of the British Nationality Act 1981 under which citizenship was acquired.

8.4 Changes to data affecting the statistics

Reported figures of applications have previously included both British citizenship and right of abode in the UK as a Commonwealth national, although right of abode decisions are not included in the tables on decisions. From 2002, it has been possible to separately identify right of abode and British citizenship applications allowing the figures to be presented separately.

The figures relating to grants of British citizenship to residents of Hong Kong in the UK from 2006 onwards are drawn from a different source of more complete data. It is understood that figures for 2005 and earlier years significantly undercount grants of this type. There is, therefore, a discontinuity in the series between 2005 and 2006.

The reported number of British citizenship ceremonies attended, 2004 to 2015, were subject to minor revisions in Immigration Statistics January to March 2017. A further 1,761 persons attending ceremonies in 2015 were added due to late reporting by some authorities, increasing the total by 2.1% from 82,960 to 84,721.

The numbers of British citizenship ceremonies attended was again revised in May 2020, when those data were updated for the first time in the new format of data tables for the entire period covered by them. There were no significant changes in this revision.

Figures for citizenship applications and decisions in 2015 and 2016 were revised in May 2017, correcting a issue found in the data extraction process that had led to incorrect biographic details (date of birth, sex and nationality) being included in the reported data in some cases. The headline totals for these periods change very little due to this revision. The revisions main impact is in the calculated ages of persons granted British citizenship shown in table cz_05.

When originally published in May 2016 table cz_05 showed 8,472 male children under 16 and 8,154 female children under 16 granted British citizenship in 2015. After revision these figures rose to 13,936 and 13,281 respectively; increases of 64.5% and 62.9%. The adult age bands consequently reduced in the revised data.

Citizenship grants for 2010 to 2014 were revised in the May 2017 release to include small numbers of decisions under section 4D of the British Nationality Act 1981 previously excluded because of an oversight in the computer code used to categorise records for publication purposes.

Citizenship grants for the first three quarters of 2018 were revised in the February 2019 release to include grants made under Schedule 2 Paragraph 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981 relating to the registration of stateless minors, which were initially overlooked due to the way they were recorded in the administrative database.

In the May 2019 release grants in 2017 were revised to include a small number of grants (137) made under Schedule 2 Paragraph 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

The number of decisions made in 2008 was comparatively low when staff resources were temporarily transferred from decision-making to deal with the administration of new applications.

Grant levels reduced in the second and third quarters of 2014 as UKVI resources were used to assist HM Passport Office.

Grant rates fell in 2015 following the introduction of enhanced checks on cases requiring higher levels of assurance in April 2015.

8.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the total numbers of those granted and refused British citizenship is considered to be high. These data:

  • administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes
  • scrutinised closely as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office
  • regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework

The main types of errors are thought to relate to recording and classification errors. The level of missing data on related fields such as sex and nationality is very low, with such missing data reported as unknown. The following are known data quality issues which affect a small number of cases (under 0.1%).

  • In a small number of cases (under 0.01% annually) data appear inconsistent. These records are excluded from the published data and, where resources allow, are passed back to UK Visas and Immigration for investigation and correction.
  • In Table cz_05 data for 2002 includes a significant proportion of records (27%) for which the sex of the applicant was not recorded. This was due to the introduction of a new administrative database (the Case Information Database – CID) in late 2001. Processes for the capture of this information were introduced during 2002, reducing missing values to 2% or less of the total in 2003 and subsequent years.

8.6 Limitations

The data include the outcome of reconsidered decisions. These may result in outcomes recorded in later periods i.e. a refusal which is followed by a reconsidered decision may be shown as a grant in a later period. Such reconsiderations appear to make little difference to the overall trends in the data, based on the size of revisions made. Administrative reconsideration affects only a small (0.01%) proportion of cases.

Eurostat comparisons of grants of citizenship across different European countries.

Eurostat news release – ‘EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 1 million persons in 2016’.

Data on the number of Life in the UK Tests taken and the pass rate, for citizenship applications, are published as Official Statistics at Migration transparency data.

The regular data on grants (acquisition) and renunciation (loss) of citizenship collected by Eurostat for all Member States is published at Eurostat: Acquisition of citizenship by age group, sex and former citizenship.

9. Asylum and resettlement

9.1 Introduction

Information on asylum and resettlement is included in the ‘How many people do we grant asylum or protection to?’ section of the statistics release. The statistics cover:

  • asylum applications, appeals and outcomes
  • resettlement
  • age disputes
  • asylum support
  • family reunion visas granted to family members of refugees
  • transfers under the Dublin regulation

A complete list of published data on Asylum and Resettlement can be found in the ‘List of tables’ section of each release.

9.2 Data Source

The data in this section come from Home Office administrative data systems. As cases progress, caseworkers enter information onto case working systems for operational purposes. These statistics are derived from the information entered by caseworkers.

The majority of asylum and resettlement data are extracted from the Home Office’s Case Information Database (CID).

Asylum support data are extracted from the asylum support database ATLAS. Prior to March 2018, support data were extracted from the ASYS system.

Data on family reunion visas are extracted from the Trojan system which is used to collect data on entry clearance visas.

9.3 Background on the statistics

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Individuals who are granted asylum, or resettled in the UK have refugee status.

Asylum seekers are people who seek sanctuary (sometimes referred to as ‘international protection’) in another country by applying for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that their fear of persecution in their home country is well-founded (that is, genuine and objectively justifiable).

An individual may apply for asylum in line with the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The core principle is that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. The Convention outlines the definition of the term ‘refugee’, the rights of refugees and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights they should receive from the countries who have signed the document. An individual seeking international protection is expected to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, or by approaching the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UK’s Immigration Rules (paragraph 334) outlines the criteria an asylum applicant must meet to be granted asylum in the UK. An application which does not meet these criteria will be refused. In certain circumstances an applicant may be refused asylum but granted other forms of protection or leave.

Alternatively, an individual can be granted refugee status on resettlement in the UK. The UK currently has four resettlement schemes that it operates in partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These resettlement programmes transfer recognised refugees from an asylum country to the UK, with the aim of giving refugees permanent settlement. For more details, see the ‘Resettlement’ section.

Asylum applications and initial decisions

The statistics include both the number of asylum applications (from main applicants) and the number of people applying for asylum (main applicants and their dependants).

Initial decisions on asylum applications relate to the first decision given by the Home Office. An initial decision may subsequently be overturned following an appeal or reconsideration.

The statistics provide information on the type of decision on asylum applications, including:

  • grants of asylum;
  • grants of humanitarian protection (HP)
  • grants of other leave to those who don’t qualify under a ‘protection’ route, including discretionary leave (DL), UASC leave, leave to remain (LTR) under family or private life rules, leave outside of the rules (LOTR);
  • refusals.

The initial decisions tables also include figures on withdrawn applications and resettlement cases.

The statistics include details on age and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs). A child may move between the unaccompanied and accompanied categories while their applications are under consideration, for example, where a child arrives alone but is later united with other family members in the UK; or a child arrives with their parents or close relatives but is later abandoned; or a trafficked child; or one brought in on false papers with an adult claiming to be a relative.

Appeals lodged and determined

Where an application does not result in a grant of asylum at initial decision, applicants may appeal the decision. Applications which are withdrawn do not qualify for a right of appeal. The statistics in this release relate to the number of appeals (main applicants) at the First-Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) hears and decides appeals against decisions made by the Home Office. It consists of the First-tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber (FTTIAC) and Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber (UTIAC). The First-tier Tribunal Judge will decide whether the appeal against the initial decision is successful or not. Where the courts rule in favour of the appellant, the initial decision is overturned, and this is known as an ‘allowed’ appeal. Where the courts rule in favour of the Home Office, the initial decision stands – this is known as a ‘dismissed’ appeal.

In the event that either party (the appellant or the Secretary of State) thinks that the First-tier Tribunal made an error of law when reaching its decision, they can apply to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (UTIAC). Following consideration by the Upper Tribunal, either party may request a High Court Judge and, subsequently, the Court of Appeal to consider the case.

Non suspensive appeals

Appeals which are exercisable from within the UK generally have a ‘suspensive’ effect: they suspend any requirement to leave the UK and/or the power to remove.

Non suspensive appeals, in contrast, can only be exercised from outside the UK (i.e. after removal). Applicants who receive a refusal at initial decision may have the application for asylum termed ‘clearly unfounded’. This may be because their country of nationality is a ‘designated’ state or for other reasons assessed on a case-by-case basis. Where an application is certified as clearly unfounded, any subsequent appeal must be made through the non suspensive appeals process.

For more information on ‘designated’ states, see the Asylum (Designated States) Order 2007. The list of current ‘designated’ states can be found in the guidance on clearly unfounded claims (page 31), within the Appeals policy guidance.

Asylum support

Support is the provision of accommodation and/or subsistence to those in the asylum system, most commonly those awaiting the outcome on an asylum application. The statistics relate to three types of support provided under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999:

  • Section 95: to support destitute asylum seekers while they await a decision on their asylum application;
  • Section 98: to support destitute asylum seekers who are awaiting a decision on their Section 95 application, or have been approved for Section 95 support and are awaiting transfer to their dispersal accommodation;
  • Section 4: to support individuals whose asylum application has been refused but they are destitute and there are reasons that temporarily prevent them from leaving the UK.

Asylum applicants who are receiving asylum support can have their support terminated for various reasons:

  • If an asylum seeker is granted protection or leave to remain, they cease to be eligible for support, and become entitled to apply for mainstream benefits.
  • If an asylum seeker is refused protection of leave to remain, and has no further right to appeal, they may have their support terminated. In order to safeguard certain groups, there are some instances where an individual may continue to receive support until they leave the UK, despite being refused. These are typically vulnerable failed asylum seekers including families with children under the age of 18.
  • Support can also be terminated or suspended if asylum seekers do not abide by the regulations set out when the support is provided to them, for example, if the asylum seeker does not move into the allocated accommodation.

More information can be found on gov.uk Asylum Support page, and in the Asylum Support Appeals Project factsheets for Section 95, Section 98 and Section 4.

The statistics published in the release include the number of applications for support, as well as the number of people in receipt of support at the end of each quarter. The figures relating to asylum seekers in receipt of support include dependants, unless otherwise stated.

Resettlement

This release includes data on the number of people brought to the UK through four resettlement schemes: Gateway Protection Programme, Mandate Resettlement Scheme, Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS).

The Gateway Protection Programme, which closed in March 2020, aimed to resettle 750 refugees per (financial) year. Individuals were eligible to be resettled through Gateway if they had been living in a protracted refugee situation (i.e. a state of limbo or exile where basic rights and essential needs remain unfulfilled) for over five years, unless there was an urgent need for resettlement (e.g. life endangerment). On resettlement, refugees resettled through Gateway were provided with a twelve-month package of housing and integration support.

The Mandate Resettlement Scheme resettles recognised refugees from anywhere in the world who have a close family member in the UK who is willing and able to accommodate them. The UK relative does not need to hold refugee status. There is no resettlement quota for the Mandate scheme.

The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) is open to refugees, regardless of nationality, who have fled the Syrian conflict. The scheme is open to refugees who live in the Middle East and North Africa region (specifically: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey). Refugees must have fled Syria because of the current conflict (i.e. after March 2011).

The VPRS was launched in January 2014 with the first arrivals resettled in March 2014. In September 2015, the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the existing scheme, with an aim to resettle 20,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria by 2020. In July 2017, the Home Secretary announced that vulnerable refugees of any nationality (not just Syrians), who had fled the current Syrian conflict could now be resettled in the UK under the Scheme.

Until July 2017, those arriving under this scheme were granted Humanitarian Protection. From July 2017, new arrivals have been granted refugee status and five years’ limited leave, which affords individuals more entitlements under the law. Those resettled prior to July 2017 may request to change their status from Humanitarian Protection to refugee status.

The Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) is open to vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa region (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey), where UNHCR deems resettlement to be in the best interests of the child. The scheme is open to refugees of all nationalities. The scheme was announced in April 2016, and through it the government aims to resettle up to 3,000 refugees.

Data for the VPRS and VCRS are available with a breakdown of the local authority the resettled individuals are allocated to, as recorded at the time the data were extracted from the Home Office database. This breakdown is available from Q4 2015 onwards.

To aid the operation of the resettlement schemes, people are allocated to a lead local authority in advance of resettlement and will be recorded on the database as such. However, after arrival in the UK, a small number of cases may move to a different local authority to that originally recorded. The statistics count the local authority recorded at the time of data extraction.

The UK also operates the community sponsorship scheme. This scheme gives community sponsors and groups the responsibility of supporting a refugee family resettled to the UK under either the VPRS or the VCRS.

The UK has announced plans for a new resettlement scheme, which will consolidate the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and the Gateway Protection Programme into one global scheme. Once 20,000 refugees have been resettled through the VPRS, the UK Resettlement Scheme will commence.

Family reunion visas

A family reunion visa allows a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18 of those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK to reunite with them here, providing they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country of origin or habitual residence.

The sponsor is the individual who has refugee status or humanitarian protection. Those granted under family reunion provisions are granted leave in line with their sponsor and are entitled to the same rights and benefits.

Further information on family reunion can be found in the family reunion guidance on gov.uk.

The number of family reunion visas granted are published in the asylum data tables. Information on family reunion entry clearance visas are also included in visas data in the Immigration Statistics, as a subset of the ‘family: other’ category (see tables vis_D01 and vis_D02).

For further information on the quality of the family reunion data, see the Visas section of this document.

Dublin regulation

The Dublin Regulation is EU legislation which relates to determining which single State is responsible for examining an asylum claim. The statistics show the number of transfers and requests for transfers ‘in’ (i.e. from EU member states to the UK), as well as the number of transfers and requests for transfers ‘out’ (i.e. from the UK to EU member states).

As of 31st December 2020, the UK’s transition period for exiting the EU came to an end. As a result, the UK is no longer subject to the Dublin regulation. Although no new cases are expected from 01 January 2021 onwards, there may be a small number of requests made to the UK under the Dublin regulation prior to the end of the transition period that will result in transfers in 2021, where the requests have been sent to the UK prior to the end of the transition period. We continue to return migrants to safe countries on a case-by-case basis.

The data published in this space will be kept under review in line with future policy developments.

For more information, see the Glossary of Terms section and Guidance on the Dublin III Regulation.

9.4 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

Non-substantiated withdrawals and Non-compliance refusals

Applications lodged on or after 7 April 2008 may be treated as ‘implicitly withdrawn’ (or non-substantiated withdrawals) if the claimant fails to attend their substantive asylum interview and is unable to demonstrate within a reasonable time that failure to do so was due to circumstances beyond their control, under paragraph 333C of the Immigration Rules. Additionally, applications lodged on or after 26 February 2015 may be treated as implicitly withdrawn if the claimant:

  • fails to complete an asylum questionnaire when requested to do so, or
  • leaves the UK before a decision is made.

Data on non-substantiated withdrawals (a subset of withdrawals) can be found in the data tables relating to initial decisions. Prior to 7 April 2008, these cases would likely have been categorised under refusals (specifically ‘Non-compliance refusal’).

Applications lodged on or after 26 February 2015 may not be refused on non-compliance grounds, but may instead be treated as non-substantiated withdrawals. As a result, very few initial decisions since 2015 have resulted in a ‘non-compliance refusal’.

Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) leave

UASC leave was introduced on 1 April 2013 to provide limited leave to remain to UASC who do not qualify for refugee status or humanitarian protection, and where other requirements are met, as set out in paragraph 352ZC in the immigration rules. Prior to this a UASC may have been granted ‘discretionary leave’, and would have been recorded as such in the published statistics. However, the database used to record information on UASCs was not amended to include this new outcome until July 2013, so very few cases appear in the data prior to this.

Change of definition: UASCs

From 2012 onwards, the definition of a UASC changed. Previously, all asylum applicants who had ever been recorded on the system as an unaccompanied minor were counted as a UASC. The new definition counts only those who were unaccompanied for at least one day between the date of application and the date of initial decision. The new definition will not count cases where the applicant:

  • was considered an unaccompanied minor only in the period before the asylum application was raised;
  • was considered a UASC for less than 1 day;
  • is recorded as 18 or over at the time of application, but remain recorded as an unaccompanied minor on the administrative database; or
  • was recorded as a UASC after the initial decision was made.

As a result of the change, data on the number of UASC applications and decisions prior to 2012 are not directly comparable with data from 2012 onwards. Data prior to 2012 will include a number of cases that would not be included from 2012 onwards.

Change of definition: age disputes

From 2012, the definition of an age dispute was refined. Previously, age disputes were counted even if they were resolved before the date of the asylum application. In addition, if there were multiple age dispute cases relating to the same individual, these would only be counted as one dispute. The new definition excludes cases where the dispute is resolved before the date of the asylum application, and also counts each separate age dispute on the same person. The numbers now relate to the quarter when the individual becomes an asylum applicant with an age dispute rather than the quarter the asylum application is made.

There was little difference to the number of age disputes counted in the published figures as a result of the change.

Discontinued data – Detained Fast-Track (DFT)

The DFT process was an expedited process for considering the asylum claims of those claimants who were held in detention. A decision on the asylum case, including appeal, was normally concluded within 14 days under the former process.

Prior to May 2016, the Home Office published data on the DFT process. On 2 July 2015, the government suspended the operation of the DFT policy, following the Court of Appeal ruling the policy unlawful. As a result, the data series was discontinued.

Historic data relating to asylum applicants accepted onto the Fast-Track process are available in the asylum data tables, volume 3.

Asylum support

In March 2018, asylum support data was recorded on the new asylum casework system (ATLAS), moving away from the previous system (ASYS). Due to differences in the systems data from 2018 Q2 onwards are not directly comparable with earlier periods.

9.5 Data quality

Overall, and unless stated below, the quality of the data is considered to be high. Data are subject to revisions but have not, in recent years, had to be altered significantly between initial provisional totals released in February each year and subsequent revised totals released in the following August.

There are low levels of missing data, with such missing data reported as ‘unknown’.

The main types of errors in the data relate to recording and classification errors. The following issues affect a small number of cases:

  • incomplete or incorrect date of birth information entered which would affect the recorded age of an applicant;
  • incorrect outcomes recorded – for example, exceptional leave to remain selected after 1 April 2003 (by which time it had been replaced by HP and DL), or humanitarian protection (HP) and discretionary leave (DL) selected before 1 April 2003 (i.e. before these outcomes had been introduced)

Age of dependants

The number of dependants recorded on a case is subject to change, as dependants may join a main applicant after the date the application was raised (for example a spouse or child joining a main applicant, or a child being born, after the application was raised). Such changes will be reflected following data revisions each August.

UASCs and age disputes

As a result of age disputes, an individual’s status as a UASC may change. Where a UASC is later assessed to be over 18 and therefore not an unaccompanied child, the records for these individuals should subsequently be updated to reflect this. It is possible that an applicant will appear as a UASC in the applications data in one quarter, but appear as non-UASC in the initial decisions data in a subsequent quarter, following the outcome of an age dispute. In these cases, the applicant would appear as a UASC in the applications dataset until the data for that year are revised in the following August.

Age dispute data are considered to be medium quality. Not all age disputes are fully recorded as closed following an age assessment, so data quality is not considered as high for resolved age disputes as other asylum data sets.

Dublin regulation

The data on Dublin transfers recorded on CID are reconciled against manual records (maintained for monitoring purposes), to ensure data extracted from CID are complete and accurate. A small number of cases will be excluded from the published statistics due to data quality issues, which commonly include:

  • Incomplete or missing entries on CID;
  • Input errors (such as entering incorrect case types);
  • Cases being duplicated;
  • Delays in entering data onto the system.

Data on Dublin transfers out of the UK are a subset of the wider returns data. These are reconciled prior to publication. However, the figures may differ slightly due to data extracts being taken at different times.

9.6 Limitations

The data are extracted from a live database each quarter and reflect the information as it was recorded on the database at the time of extraction. Changes to data from previously published quarters will not be captured until the data for the calendar year are revised in August of the following year.

Data on the age of applicants, in the absence of any robust evidence to the contrary, is based on the self-declared age of the individual. This may not always be accurate, for example the number of applicants aged 16-17 may be higher due to individuals that claim to be children.

Local authority (LA) data will relate to registered address (or the LA which accepted the individuals, in the case of resettlement). However, this may not be the same as the LA in which the individual currently lives.

In addition to the information published on asylum and resettlement, the Immigration Statistics release also includes data on transfers to the UK under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016; returns (including data on asylum applicants who are removed or depart voluntarily); settlement (including data on asylum-related grants of settlement).

The Home Office also publishes Migration transparency data, which includes asylum performance framework measures and data on the controlled asylum archive.

Statistics on immigration and asylum appeals are available from the Ministry of Justice’s Tribunal statistics collection. These statistics provide counts of principal appellants sourced from the HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) database. Within these statistics, there tend to be higher numbers of principal appellants than main asylum applicant appeals (in the quarterly Immigration Statistics release) because:

  • HMCTS has a wider definition of asylum appeals, including some human rights cases and appeals on extensions of asylum, humanitarian protection and discretionary leave; and
  • principal appellants include some individuals classed as dependants by the Home Office.

Data on appellate cases heard by a High Court Judge or the Court of Appeal are available from the Ministry of Justice’s Courts and Sentencing statistics collection.

Eurostat produce publications and data tables featuring international comparisons (covering EU member states, EEA states, Switzerland, and UK). The data include asylum applications, decisions, the Dublin regulation, and unaccompanied minors (UASCs), with breakdowns by age, sex, citizenship, and time period (monthly and annual).

There are differences between definitions of the asylum figures in Immigration Statistics and those provided to Eurostat:

  • the figures in Immigration statistics can be broken down to show main applicants and dependants separately, whereas the Eurostat figures combine main applicants and dependants and do not provide this breakdown;
  • the figures on applications and decisions published in Immigration Statistics only show information relating to first applications, whereas Eurostat figures for applications and decision include re-applications as well;
  • the Immigration Statistics figures on pending applications include withdrawn applications, while figures provided to Eurostat exclude these;
  • data in the Immigration Statistics are extracted from a live system so there may be small differences when compared to Eurostat data due to time of data extraction.

Data on international refugee trends is also available from the UNHCR and the IGC. UNHCR and IGC use the same definitions as Eurostat, so the above differences also apply to these datasets.

10. Immigration Detention

10.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to the number of people entering and leaving detention, as well as the number of people in immigration detention at the end of each quarter. The data count the number of entries, rather than individuals – one individual may be detained more than once in a given period and, if that was the case, would be counted more than once in the statistics. Similarly, a person may leave detention more than once.

A complete list of published data on Detention can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release. Data on Detention can be found in the ‘How many people are detained or returned’ section of each Immigration statistics quarterly release.

10.2 Data Source

Data on detentions come from Home Office administrative data systems, specifically the Case Information Database (CID). As cases progress, caseworkers enter information onto case working systems for operational purposes. The detention statistics are derived from the information entered by case workers.

Data on deaths in detention are monitored and recorded on a separate database. Information on deaths of individuals who have died after being released from detention will be collated from various sources including litigation, Immigration Enforcement teams, or other credible means.

10.3 Background on the statistics

An individual may be detained under immigration powers under certain circumstances, for example, whilst their identity is being established, where there is a risk of absconding, or in support of the return of an individual with no legal right to be in the UK. Where an individual is being detained in support of a return, detention may continue lawfully only for as long as there is a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable time period.

The detention statistics relate to those detained solely under Immigration Act powers, in immigration removal centres (IRCs), short-term holding facilities (STHFs), pre-departure accommodation (PDA) and Her Majesties Prisons (HMPs).

In addition, the statistics exclude those detained for less than 24 hours in short-term holding rooms at ports and airports, or those detained in police cells.

The detention estate as at 31 December 2020:

  • Brook House IRC, Harmondsworth IRC, and Morton Hall IRC – male only
  • Colnbrook IRC, Dungavel IRC, Manchester STHF, Larne House STHF and HM Prisons – Male and Female
  • Tinsley House IRC – Male and Female, Families with or without children
  • Yarl’s Wood IRC – Male and female, families without children
  • Gatwick PDA (temporarily closed from 27th March 2020 for operational reasons) – Families with children; and
  • Harmondsworth IRC, Tinsley House IRC and Yarl’s Wood IRC – Locations used for the short-term detention of clandestine entrants

People may be released from detention for a wide range of reasons. Regular reviews of detention are undertaken to ensure that it remains lawful and proportionate to detain someone, particularly where circumstances may change. The statistics include breakdowns of the reason that an individual may leave detention. These include:

  • Returned from the UK – relate to people, including dependants, leaving the UK either voluntarily when they no longer have a right to stay in the UK or where the Home Office has sought to return them to their own country, an EU Member State, or a third country where they are permanently admissible
  • Granted leave to enter / remain – a person may be granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, either permanently or temporarily, following further investigation to ascertain if the person is eligible, or following the outcome of an application to remain in the UK (for example, and asylum application)
  • Bailed (Secretary of State) – formerly ‘granted temporary admission / release’ – when a person who is liable to be detained under immigration powers is released from detention while awaiting removal directions, or the outcome of an application to remain in the UK (for example an asylum claim)
  • Bailed (Immigration Judge) – formerly ‘bailed’
  • Other – includes people who have started a custodial sentence, been released unconditionally, absconded, sectioned under the Mental Health Act, or died in detention.

Statistics on deaths in detention are published each August in the detention summary tables (Det_05a-b). These can be found on the returns and detention detailed datasets page.

A death in detention is defined as:

  1. Any death of an individual while detained under immigration powers in an IRC, short-term holding facility (STHF), pre-departure accommodation (PDA) or under escort, or
  2. After leaving detention if the death was as a result of an incident occurring while detained or where there is some credible information that the death might have resulted from their period of detention and the Home Office has been informed.

The data excludes deaths that occurred after a detainee left detention (and is not under escort) and:

  • the cause of death was unrelated to the detention period, or occurred outside the direct control of the state (for example, a road traffic accident).
  • where the individual died as a result of complications that may have resulted from an incident that initially occurred in detention but has not been reported to the Home Office. Such incidents will be recorded once the Home Office is made aware.
  • other deaths that occurred outside of detention that the Home Office is not made aware of. Such incidents will be recorded once the Home Office is made aware.

To avoid double counting, deaths in prison of individuals held under immigration powers will be excluded from this dataset and reference will be made to the relevant MoJ published statistics.

The statistics include information on the cause of death. These include:

  • Natural cause deaths include any death of a person as a result of a naturally occurring disease process.
  • Self-inflicted deaths are any death of a person who has apparently taken his or her own life irrespective of intent. This not only includes suicides but also accidental deaths as a result of the person’s own actions. This classification is used because it is not always known whether a person intended to commit suicide.
  • Homicides include any death of a person at the hands of another. This includes murder and manslaughter cases. As with self-inflicted deaths, the classification system does not make any judgement about intent with regards to homicide.
  • ‘Other’ deaths include any death of a person whose death cannot easily be classified as natural causes, self-inflicted or homicide. The category includes accidents and cases where the cause of death is unknown even after all of the investigations have been concluded.

10.4 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

From Q3 2017, the data include those detained under immigration powers in prison. This includes time served foreign national offenders (FNOs), those formerly on remand, and those unsuitable to be held in the immigration detention estate.

The majority of those recorded as entering immigration detention through prisons will subsequently be transferred to an immigration removal centre (IRC) or short-term holding facility (STHF) prior to removal. Previously these individuals would have been recorded as entering immigration detention in an IRC or STHF at the point of their transfer from prison. However, a small number of those entering immigration detention through prisons will not go on to enter the immigration detention estate (for example, because they are removed from the UK directly from prison and are not held at any point in the immigration detention estate). These individuals would not have previously been recorded in the figures.

Where an individual recorded as leaving immigration detention through prison had previously been detained in another part of the immigration detention estate, they would previously have been recorded as leaving that part of the detention estate. Those recorded as leaving immigration detention through prison, who had not been detained in another part of the estate, would not previously have been included in the figures.

Data on the number of individuals held in HM prisons under immigration powers at the end of the period are included in the detention tables from the end of Q3 2017.

In 2010, the Coalition Programme for Government made a commitment to end the detention of children (i.e. persons aged under 18) for immigration purposes. A Home Office review began in June 2010 to consider how this could be done in a way which protects the welfare of children while ensuring the return of families who have no right to be in the UK.

Following the ‘Review into Ending the Detention of Children For Immigration Purposes’ in 2010 the criteria under which children would be detained changed significantly. This meant that children and their families would only be detained in very limited circumstances and for very short time periods (up to 72 hours or 7 days with Ministerial approval).

This has led to large falls in the number of children detained.

Other cases where children might be detained are when:

  • The individual was believed to have been aged 18 years or older at the time of initial detention, but released once the age dispute is raised, and
  • There’s a criminal case and there’s a serious risk with a decision made to return from the UK.

Further information on immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities can be found on the Home Office ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ web pages.

10.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the detention data is high.

In order to ensure the data are produced to a high standard, a number of logic checks are undertaken on the data each quarter. Any inconsistencies are flagged with operational teams who undertake both regular and ad hoc data cleansing exercises to ensure information recorded on case working systems are as accurate as possible.

Where possible, data are extracted from databases using pre-defined code to minimise the risk of human error and ensure data are produced as consistently as possible.

Data are reconciled against other data sources in order to ensure any inconsistencies are picked up and addressed.

To ensure data input are accurate, guidance is provided to caseworkers. This guidance is reviewed on a regular basis.

Those relating to people in detention (on a snapshot basis) on the last day of each quarter are reconciled with all immigration removal centres, short-term holding facilities, pre-departure accommodation and H M Prisons in the Home Office immigration detention estate.

10.6 Limitations

For a case to be recorded on Home Office systems, the Home Office caseworker must be notified that an individual is being transferred into immigration detention. This must then be input into the system. There may be a small number of cases where this fails, or there is a delay in notification. The Home Office are working to improve administrative processes to ensure that this issue is minimised in future.

Revisions to the data on the number of children entering detention occur when a more recent data extract is used to produce the figures. Later extracts will reflect changes made to date of birth information about individuals (after reviews, new evidence or ‘Merton’ assessments). These changes do not change the total number of people entering detention but may increase or decrease the number of children entering detention.

Cause of death will initially be based on the best assessment of the Home Office operational teams , until such a time that other information becomes available such as an inquest has been completed. Where the cause of death is unclear, it will be recorded as ‘other’ until the cause can be identified.

Data during previous years may change as more information comes to light, for example following an inquest, which may not be concluded for several years after the death. The changes may affect the recorded cause of death. Additionally, if the Home Office is retrospectively informed of a death, the figure may be revised.

10.7 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

Since the beginning of 2004, the following immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities have closed:

  • Dover Harbour – 31 July 2010.
  • Oakington Reception Centre – 12 November 2010.
  • Harwich – 30 November 2010.
  • Lindholme – 23 December 2011.
  • Haslar IRC – 23 April 2015.
  • Dover IRC – 28 October 2015.
  • Pennine House STHF – 31 March 2017.
  • The Verne IRC – 31 December 2017 and
  • Campsfield House IRC – 31 December 2018.

Additionally, Yarl’s Wood closed to families with children on 16 December 2010.

Since the beginning of 2004, the following immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities have opened:

  • Brook House – 18 March 2009.
  • Morton Hall – 16 May 2011.
  • Larne House – 5 July 2011.
  • The Verne – 28 September 2014 and
  • Manchester STHF – 4 June 2018.

Historical data on immigration detention (statistics relating to pre 2010) can be found in the National Archives.

In addition to the information published on detention, the Immigration Statistics release also includes a range of data on returns (including returns from detention).

The Home Office also publishes Migration transparency data, which includes a range of data such as data on family returns and the Windrush compensation scheme.

A short statistical article published by the Home Office on Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) in detention and leaving detention in February 2013. The ‘short article’ reported on the difference between FNOs detained and others detained under Immigration Act powers (“non-FNOs”).

Data on all prosecutions are published quarterly by MoJ. These statistics include prosecutions for immigration offences.

Data on safety in custody are also published quarterly by MoJ. These statistics include deaths in prison of immigration detainees.

11. Returns

11.1 Introduction

The statistics in this section relate to the number of returns from the UK. The data count the number of returns, rather than individuals – one individual may be returned more than once in a given period and, if that was the case, would be counted more than once in the statistics.

A complete list of published data on Returns can be found in the ‘list of tables’ section of each release.

Data on returns are based on individual cases. If a person is returned more than once in the same year, these will be recorded as multiple returns.

11.2 Data source

Data on returns come from Home Office administrative data systems, specifically the Case Information Database (CID). As cases progress, caseworkers enter information onto case working systems for operational purposes. The returns statistics are derived from the information entered by case workers.

11.3 Background on the statistics

The Home Office seeks to return people who do not have any legal right to stay in the UK. This includes people who:

  • enter, or attempt to enter, the UK illegally (including people entering clandestinely and by means of deception on entry);
  • overstay their period of legal right to remain in the UK;
  • breach their conditions of leave;
  • are subject to deportation action; for example, due to a serious criminal conviction and have been refused asylum

The statistics include returns of people who are in the UK without any legal right. There are three types of return:

  • Enforced returns where it has been established that a person has breached UK immigration laws and / or has no valid leave to remain in the UK. They have declined to leave voluntarily and the Home Office enforces their return from the UK. It includes enforced removals from detention, non-detained enforced removals and other returns from detention. Refer to the ‘Glossary’ for definitions for these.
  • Voluntary returns comprise assisted returns, controlled returns, and other verified returns. Refer to the ‘Glossary’ for definitions for these. It does not include assisted or controlled returns that occur from detention, these are included in the ‘other returns from detention’ category.
  • Refused entry at port and subsequently departed where on arrival to the UK a Border Force Officer will determine whether or not an individual has the right to enter the UK (for example British citizens, or those with valid leave to enter). Those who do not qualify may be refused and returned.

The statistics provide further information on returns of the following:

The statistics provide information via the Harm Matrix, a tool to asses the level of harm associated with a particular individual. In order to provide clarity, consistency and measurement, levels of harm have been divided into four broad categories: A, B, C and D, with A being the highest harm.

  • Category A (highest harm) – has committed offences including serious criminal offences such as terrorist activity, murder, rape, people and drug trafficking, violent crime and child abuse;
  • Category B (high harm) – has committed other criminal offences including illegal working, dishonest claim for asylum support and identity fraud;
  • Category C (medium harm) – has committed other offences, not linked to any of the above more serious criminality, including minor immigration offences, a drain on public funds and antisocial behaviour;
  • Category D (low harm) – has committed other low level offences, including shoplifting. Harm Category “D (low harm)” was introduced in the first quarter of 2012. Prior to 2012, Harm Category D would have been classified as part of the previous Harm Category C.

11.4 Changes to data affecting the statistics

Prior to 2007, all third-country cases were defined as ‘asylum-related’ cases, regardless of whether or not the individual had applied for asylum in the UK. Since 2007, third country cases are only defined as ‘asylum-related’ if the person has claimed asylum in the UK. This change affects a small number of cases. This reclassification has no effect on the total returns recorded.

From 2010 onwards, voluntary returns from detention are included in the ‘other returns from detention’ category to reflect the level of enforcement activity that goes in to securing the return. Prior to 2010, such returns were recorded in the appropriate voluntary return category. This change means that returns that would previously have been included in the voluntary returns category are now being included as enforced returns.

For the financial year 2016/17 (1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017), ‘other verified returns’ include non-visa nationals matched against records with no valid leave in the UK to establish as a proxy for those leaving the UK without informing the immigration authorities. These returns have been included as part of a one-off data matching exercise. The detained figures relate to those detained in immigration removal centres (IRCs), short term holding facilities (STHF), pre departure accommodation (PDA) and H M Prisons (from July 2017 onwards. This had no effect on the total returns recorded.

From July 2017, returns from detention include returns of those held in prison under immigration powers. Prior to this, they included those returns held in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) and Short-term holding facilities (STHF) and Pre departure accommodation (PDA). Returns from detention didn’t include those held in prison under immigration powers before July 2017.

In November 2020, following a programme of work undertaken to review the quality of the returns data, Home Office statisticians have revised the published timeseries on returns. Please see ‘Revisions to returns data’ section below for details.

11.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality of the returns data is high.

In order to ensure the data are produced to a high standard, a number of logic checks are undertaken on the data each quarter. Any inconsistencies are flagged with operational teams who undertake both regular and ad hoc data cleansing exercises to ensure information recorded on case working systems are as accurate as possible.

Where possible, data are extracted from databases using pre-defined code to minimise the risk of human error and ensure data are produced as consistently as possible.

Data are reconciled against other data sources in order to ensure any inconsistencies are picked up and addressed.

To ensure data input are accurate, guidance is provided to caseworkers. This guidance is reviewed on a regular basis.

Data for the previous eight quarters are revised each quarter to ensure any updates to the case working system are reflected in the published statistics. This is particularly important for ‘other verified returns’ (see limitations section below).

11.6 Limitations

As with all administrative data, there will be a small number of cases where data are missing or have been input incorrectly. For returns, this is believed to be minimal. The importance of accurate recording for operational purposes, combined with the regular data quality checks undertaken helps ensure the data are robust. In addition, the data are taken from a live operational system, and are therefore subject to change.

Figures for the number of ‘under 18s’ returned may be an overestimate because some applicants aged 18 or over may claim to be under 18 on their date of departure. It is unlikely that somebody who is under 18 would claim to be 18 or over.

Data for ‘other verified returns’ for the most recent period are likely to be an undercount. Such returns are usually identified through data matching exercises, which in some instances can take some time to appear on case working systems. As a result, data are likely to be revised upwards in future publications.

In addition to the information published on returns, the Immigration Statistics release also includes a range of data on asylum (including returns under the Dublin regulation), immigration detention and passengers initially refused entry at port.

The Home Office also publishes Migration transparency data, which includes a range of data such as data on family returns and the Windrush compensation scheme.

Eurostat publish a range of migration data that can be used to make international comparisons. This includes enforcement of immigration legislation (including returns). There are some differences between definitions of returns figures published in Immigration Statistics and those published by Eurostat.

  • From 2010, Eurostat data are counts of individuals returned; multiple returns of the same person in the same year are counted once in the Eurostat data, but multiple times in the Immigration Statistics.
  • Eurostat data exclude returns under the Dublin regulation, returns of EU nationals, and returns of non-EU nationals to EU countries, Norway, Switzerland and Northern Cyprus.

11.8 Revisions to returns data

Following a programme of work undertaken to review the quality of the returns data, in the November 2020 edition of this release, Home Office statisticians revised the published timeseries on returns.

The work identified two key areas which have led us to revise the published time-series in order to better reflect the volume and nature of returns in the published statistics.

  1. Data matched returns undercounted in the published statistics
  2. Re-categorisation of return types to better reflect the nature of a return

Data matched returns relate to cases where individuals who have been told to leave the UK did not notify the Home Office of their departure from the UK. In such cases, it can take some time for the Home Office to become aware of such a departure and update the system. ‘Other verified returns’ returns are particularly affected by this. Historically, cases that were not recorded on the system at the time data were extracted for each publication, were not included in the published statistics (unless they were picked up as part of the existing revisions policy). The revised data now includes cases that were not included at the time of previous publications. Returns figures now reflect the true volume of returns. We have revised our ‘revision policy’ and publication schedule to ensure consistency going forward (see below for details).

Re-categorisation of return types have been made to case working records as a result of recording inconsistencies which affected the quality of returns records between 2007 and 2011, and on a smaller scale up to 2017. These include, for example, a voluntary return being recorded as an enforced return. The published statistics now more accurately reflect the return type. The Home Office has also improved caseworker guidance, training and internal quality assurance processes to ensure returns are correctly categorised going forward.

As a result, Home Office statisticians have revised the published time series from 2007 onwards.

What is the impact of the changes?

The re-categorisation of return types has led to figures for all types of returns (voluntary, enforced and port) being revised between 2007 and 2017. In addition, the revisions to the timeseries have led to an increase in the number of returns included in the published statistics (mainly ‘data matched returns’, but a small number of other returns, which have since been updated on case working systems will now be included). This affects data from 2007 onwards.

In addition to changes in the numbers and classification of returns, the data on returns of foreign national offenders (FNOs) has also been revised, reflecting the additional returns that have now been included in the published statistics.

Although the changes impact the overall number of returns, with fewer enforced returns now recorded, and more voluntary return, the overall trend remains broadly similar. See the chart below for further details of the revisions.

Chart 1: Difference between revised data and previous data on enforced, voluntary and port returns

Table 1: Difference in the volume of returns following revisions, compared with figures prior to revision

Year Enforced Voluntary Port FNOs
2007 -3,896 +6,001 +436 :
2008 -3,806 +5,981 +298 :
2009 -2,745 +6,965 +174 :
2010 -1,900 +5,622 +170 +41
2011 -1,572 +4,744 +269 +112
2012 -1,176 +3,002 +256 +80
2013 -1,134 +2,189 +385 +60
2014 -854 +2,031 +566 +109
2015 -769 +2,021 +446 +256
2016 -566 +1,317 +349 +266
2017 -308 +477 +341 +179

Notes:

  1. Differences relate to data published in August 2020 compared with data published in November 2020.
  2. FNOs are a subset of wider returns data
  3. : = not applicable. The published data on FNOs goes back to 2010.

Chart 2: Difference between revised data and previous data on returns of foreign national offenders (FNOs)

Changes to our processes

In order to ensure the published time series remains robust, the Home Office has put several measures in place. These include:

  • Improving guidance to caseworkers to ensure they correctly categorise returns
  • Improving internal quality assurance to pick up cases where there are inconsistencies between information recorded against the case, and the return type
  • Delaying the publication of the returns data by one quarter to allow more time for returns (particularly ‘other verified returns’) to be entered on the system prior to publication, ensuring that the published figure is an accurate representation of the number of returns.
  • Amending our revisions policy – Home Office statisticians will routinely revise the previous eight quarters of data as part of each quarterly release (previously three quarters). This will ensure returns that take time to appear on the system (particularly ‘other verified returns’) are included in the published statistics.
  • Data matching for “Other verified returns” is undertaken retrospectively, which means these figures are particularly subject to greater upward revision than for other categories of return. In the light of the high use of retrospective data matching to check returns, figures are also reviewed for the previous two quarter to decide whether they require revision. For consistency purposes, all types of return figures are revised for the previous two quarters.

12. European Economic Area

12.1 Introduction

The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of countries within the EU as at end of March 2020 together with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The 27 nations of the EEA and Switzerland had rights of free movement within the UK until the end of the Transition period on 31 December 2020. This means that there is less information on numbers coming to the UK than for nationals of other countries.

Some data on nationals of the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals are included in:

  • Entry clearance visas where applications have been made;
  • Total passenger arrivals;
  • Grants of settlement (where applicable and available);
  • Grants of British citizenship;
  • Asylum where applications have been made;
  • Detention;
  • Returns;
  • Issue and refusal of residence documentation to EEA nationals and their family members.

Figures are published on:

  • Issues and refusals of residence documentation to EEA nationals and their family members (Table EEA_01, EEA_02 and dataset).

Some current residence documents will no longer be valid after 30 June 2021. Applications received before 1 January 2021 are still being processed. More information is available on the relevant visas and immigration pages on GOV.UK.

Since 30 March 2019, EU and EEA nationals resident in the UK, along with their non-EEA family members, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.

12.2 Data Source

Data are extracted from the Home Office administrative database, after caseworkers have entered information relating to the applications and decisions.

On a quarterly basis, generally during the first week after the end of the reference period, extracts of general immigration casework decisions data are taken from a weekly refreshed ‘snapshot’ of the Case Information Database (CID) by Migration Statistics. This extract is filtered using established, tested computer code, which selects EEA residence document records into a separate dataset and, for example, ensures there are no duplicates within the data, to produce the data tables that are subsequently published.

12.3 Background on the statistics

Under the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006, (since 1st February 2017, Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016) EEA nationals (and their family members) had an initial right to reside in the UK for three months without conditions. To have a right to reside in the country longer than this the EEA national must have been exercising a Treaty Right, described in domestic regulations as being a qualified person. To be considered a qualified person, they must have been a jobseeker, worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient or a student. After living in the UK for a continuous period of five years in accordance with the EEA Regulations, an EEA national and any family member acquired the right of permanent residence in the UK.

Under European law, EEA nationals and their dependants did not need to obtain documentation confirming their right of residence in the UK.

EEA nationals can apply for registration certificates and documents certifying permanent residence in the UK. Their family members (who are non-EEA nationals) could apply for residence and permanent residence cards. These acted as confirmation of their right to stay in the UK. There was no need to apply for a residence card as a family member but it could:

  • help residence card holders to re-enter the country more quickly and easily if travelling abroad
  • show employers that residence card holders were allowed to work in the UK
  • help prove residence card holders qualify for certain benefits and services

EEA nationals only needed to apply for a document certifying permanent residence if they want to either:

  • apply for British citizenship
  • sponsor their partner’s visa application under the Immigration Rules

These data include decisions in requests for derivative rights of residence however such cases are not readily identifiable in the available data before 2012. More information regarding derivative residence rights can be found at Free movement rights: derivative rights of residence.

Figures for 2004 and 2005, while generally comparable to later years, are based on data relating to cases dealt with under the 2000 European Economic Area Regulations. These data were previously published in table 4.4 of the Control of Immigration Statistics command paper for 2006. The 2000 European Economic Area Regulations were replaced on the 30 April 2006 by the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006.

EEA residence documents – including registration certificates, registration cards, documents certifying permanent residence and permanent residence cards – will not be valid after 31 December 2020. Since 30 March 2019, EU and EEA nationals resident in the UK, along with their non-EEA family members, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.

Tables EEA_01 and EEA_02 do not include information relating to the EU Settlement Scheme. More information about applying for residence documentation and how the status of EU citizens in the UK is being secured now the UK has left the EU is available on GOV.UK. Statistical information can be found in the EU Settlement Scheme statistics monthly and quarterly releases available from Migration Statistics at GOV.UK.

12.4 Changes to the data affecting the statistics

The number of decisions made in 2009 and 2010 rose compared to 2008 following various operational and procedural measures introduced during 2009 to improve performance in the Home Office.

In 2011 and 2012 a pre-consideration sift of applications was used to identify those without key information or documentation. These applications were rejected as invalid and returned to the applicant. The pre-consideration sift was discontinued in late 2012. Applicants whose request for documentation is rejected as invalid may apply again including the required information and this is likely to account for a proportion of the increase in decisions in 2011. Applications rejected as invalid are now shown separately in Tables EEA_01 and EEA_02.

On 1st July 2013 a fee for the processing of EEA residence documentation was introduced. This led to a increase in the number of applications rejected as invalid in the latter half of 2013 due to their not including the fee.

Provisional data for 2016 published in August 2016 showed higher numbers of decisions categorised as ‘Other’. A review of these records indicated that the majority were invalid applications. The tables were revised in December 2016 to correctly categorise these cases.

After 12 November 2015, a person applying for citizenship who is claiming to have permanent residence as an EEA national or the family member of an EEA national has been required to provide a permanent residence card or a document certifying permanent residence as evidence that they meet the requirement to be free of immigration time restrictions. These rule changes, along with EEA nationals’ response to perceived uncertainty follow the 2016 EU referendum, are likely to have contributed to the steep increase in demand for EEA residence documentation during 2016 and 2017.

The number of decisions made in 2016 and 2017 rose compared to 2015 and previous years following various operational and procedural measures introduced during 2016 to improve performance in the Home Office.

In April 2017 updated guidance regarding rejection of applications for EEA documents as invalid where documentation, other evidence or the application fee are not received with a completed application form were issued in ‘Processes and procedures for EEA documentation applications’ (Version 6.0).

12.5 Data quality

Overall, the data quality for the total numbers of those granted and refused EEA residence documents is considered to be high. These data:

  • are administrative counts of the Home Office’s casework processes, which are defined in UK legislation and are recorded under detailed categories on the Home Office’s administrative database;
  • are scrutinised regularly as part of the performance monitoring of the Home Office;
  • are regularly assessed as part of the Home Office’s Quality Assurance Framework;
  • have not, in recent years, had to be altered significantly between initial provisional totals released in May each year and subsequent revised totals released in the following May and have not, in recent years, had to be revised at all when the annual data are subsequently checked 12 months later and the provisional status of the data is altered to final;
  • do not require sampling processes for the compilation of the figures and hence have no associated sampling errors.

12.6 Limitations

As with all administrative data, there will be a small number of cases where data are missing or have been input incorrectly. For EEA residence documents, this is believed to be minimal.

The main types of errors are thought to relate to recording and classification errors. The level of missing data on related fields such as sex and nationality are very low, with such missing data reported as unknown and therefore no grossing, imputation or other estimation methods are used.

In a small number of cases the recorded data appears inconsistent, for example where the recorded case type and statistics category do not represent a valid combination under the published Immigration Rules. These records are included in the category ‘Other’ within the published data and, where resources allow, are passed back to the Home Office operational team for investigation and correction.

  • Data on other topics are included as part of the in the immigration statistics quarterly release:
    • Entry clearance visas, see How many people come to the UK each year topic
    • Passenger arrivals, see the How many people come to the UK each year topic
    • Work, study and family statistics, see the Work, Study and Family topics
  • Entry clearance visas – EEA Family Permits, see the Entry clearance visas data set.
  • Figures on applications received and cases currently outstanding in the European casework route (along with other information such as percentage processed within service standards) can be found in the ‘In-country migration data’ of the UK Visas and Immigration section on the Migration transparency data web page.
  • EU Settlement Scheme statistics – monthly and quarterly releases are available from Migration Statistics at GOV.UK.
  • Applications from Bulgarian and Romanian nationals for accession worker cards, registration certificates, the Sector Based Scheme (SBS) and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) were published in previous releases (Tables ee_01 and ee_01_q available in Immigration Statistics, year ending June 2019).

13. Other data sources

The Home Office covers a range of policy areas, and publishes a range of regular statistics reports. Details of upcoming releases, relating to migration and other policy areas can be found in the Statistics release calendar.

13.1 Migration Statistics and research at the Home Office

The Home Office publishes a range of migration related statistics on a regular basis. These include:

13.2 Previous Home Office statistical publications

Statistical information on grants of British citizenship was published annually in the Home Office British Citizenship Statistical Bulletin (previously titled ‘Persons Granted British Citizenship, United Kingdom’). The last bulletin was published on 27 May 2010 and is available from the archived Home Office website.

Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary, United Kingdom, available from the archived Home Office website; published by the Home Office between 21 August 2008 and 26 May 2011.

Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom were published in the form of a Command Paper until 2006 and as an online bulletin between 2007 and 2009. Previous editions are available online from The Stationery Office website and the archived Home Office website.

Before 2008, statistics on asylum applications and decisions were published annually in the Asylum Statistics United Kingdom bulletin available online.

The amalgamation of the Control of Immigration, British Citizenship Statistics and the Asylum Statistics publications was in line with wider developments in the reporting of migration statistics to reduce the number of separate publications and give a coherent picture within the annual and quarterly publications following the Review of Border and Immigration Agency (now Home Office) Statistics on “Control of Immigration” and the 2011 Consultation on changes to immigration-related Home Office statistical outputs. See ‘Recent and previous reviews’ below.

Until May 2009, the Home Office published quarterly Official Statistics on the Worker Registration Scheme (Accession Monitoring Report) and the schemes for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals (Bulgarian and Romanian Accession Statistics). Past copies are available from the archived Home Office website. Key findings and summary data for the EU2 countries continue to be included within the Immigration Statistics releases; data on the Worker Registration Scheme were published for the final time on 25 August 2011 following its closure at the end of April 2011.

Home Office published Visa Statistics, which provided details of all visa applications, grants and refusals worldwide. These are now incorporated within Immigration Statistics releases.

13.4 Other sources of migration statistics and analysis

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: The UNHCR website includes statistics on refugees and asylum seekers throughout the world.

The Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat): Publish statistics for international comparisons across the European Union, focusing on international migration, refusals, apprehensions and returns along with asylum.

The European Migration Network: Publish an Annual Report on Migration and International Protection Statistics for international comparisons across the European Union.

OECD databases and publications of migration statistics include a range of statistics such as Databases on Migration in OECD countries and the annual International Migration Outlook (SOPEMI).

14. Glossary of Terms:

An age-dispute is when an asylum applicants’ claim that they are under 18 years of age is doubted and they have little or no evidence to support their claimed age. Home Office policy is to treat an applicant whose physical appearance/demeanour very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age as an adult, until there is credible evidence to demonstrate otherwise.

An asylum appeal is a procedure to review the decision given on an asylum application. HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) hears and decides appeals against decisions made by the Home Office on asylum applications.

Asylum seekers are people who seek sanctuary (sometimes referred to as ‘international protection’) in another country by applying for asylum. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that their fear of persecution in their home country is well-founded (that is, genuine and objectively justifiable).

A British citizen includes those with UK nationality usually through a connection with the UK: birth, adoption, descent, registration, or naturalisation. British nationals have the right of abode in the UK.

Citizenship refers specifically to the passport being used to enter/leave the UK. It does not refer to any other passport(s) which migrants with multiple citizenships may hold.

An asylum claim is certified as ‘clearly unfounded’ if the Home Office has concluded that there are insufficient grounds shown that would qualify for a grant of asylum, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to remain.

Controlled returns relate to those returns where a person liable to removal from the UK leaves voluntarily at their own expense but who notify the Home Office prior to departure and/or where the Home Office oversees their departure (includes family controlled returns).

Deportations are a specific subset of returns which are enforced either following a criminal conviction or when it is judged that a person’s removal from the UK is conducive to the public good. The deportation order prohibits the person returning to the UK until such time as it may be revoked.

A ‘designated’ state’ is a country which the Secretary of State is satisfied that (a) there is ‘no serious risk of persecution’ for persons entitled to reside in that State, and (b) removal to that State will not contravene the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.

Discretionary leave (DL) may be granted to an individual who does not qualify for international protection (asylum or Humanitarian Protection) but who is able to demonstrate particularly compelling reasons why removal would not be appropriate. The period of leave granted is determined on a case-by-case basis but would not normally be for more than 30 months (two and a half years) at a time. Further leave may be granted, subject to a review of the individual’s circumstances. Prior to July 2012, and individual would have been granted a leave period of 3 years.

The Dublin regulation (‘Dublin III’) is EU legislation that establishes the criteria and mechanisms for determining which State is responsible for examining an application for international protection (asylum). ‘Dublin States’ are those to which the Dublin III Regulation applies: all EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. From 1 January 2021, the UK is no longer bound by the Dublin Regulation. For more information, see the Dublin III Regulation.

ECCA refers to the European Communities Association Agreement.

The ECAA businesspersons route allowed Turkish nationals who wish to establish in business, either a new business or joining an existing business, to have their application considered under the business requirements in the Immigration Rules.

Enforced removals from detention include all those who were subject to enforced removal either from detention or up to 2 days after leaving detention. There may be delays with flight arrangements or recording on the case-working system and a 2 day lag period allows us to ensure we have included all returns occurring following a period in detention.

Enforced returns cover enforced removals from detention, non-detained enforced removals and other returns from detention where the Home Office will have been required to facilitate or monitor the return. This new grouping has been created to reflect the likely level of enforcement activity that led to these returns. The detained figures relate to those detained in immigration removal centres (IRCs), short term holding facilities (STHF), pre departure accommodation (PDA) and HM Prisons (from July 2017 onwards).

The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of the 27 countries of the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The European Union (EU) consists of 27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, 13 Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

EU2 are the two countries that joined the European Union on 1 January 2007: Bulgaria and Romania.

EU8 are the eight Central and Eastern European countries that joined the European Union on 1 May 2004: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The EU8 does not include the other two countries that joined on this date: Cyprus and Malta.

A failed asylum seeker is an individual whose application for asylum has been refused and who has exhausted their appeal rights.

Family Life (10 year) route: Partners and parents who apply in the UK and are granted leave to remain on a 10 year route to settlement on the basis of their family life.

A family reunion visa allows a spouse, partner, or child under the age of 18 to travel to the UK to reunite with an individual who has been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

Global Talent – The Global Talent route is for people aged 18 or over in the field of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture who can show they have exceptional talent or exceptional promise.

Graduate ICT – The Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route is for workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to undertake a role in the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme.

The Harm matrix is a tool to assess the level of harm associated with a particular individual. In order to provide clarity, consistency and measurement, levels of harm have been divided into four broad categories: A, B, C and D, with A being the highest harm. ‘Higher harm’ assessments include people who have committed serious criminal and immigration offences. (It was found that the method used to assess harm was not applied in a consistent manner and therefore the data were of limited use and as part of the immigration enforcement consultation this time series is under review.)

Humanitarian Protection (HP) is leave granted to a person who does not qualify for refugee status as defined by the Refugee Convention but who would, if removed, face a real risk to life or person in the country of return (for example from the death penalty, unlawful killing, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment; or serious threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict). HP is normally granted for a period of five years, after which the person can apply for indefinite leave to remain. A person who is granted HP is allowed to work and has access to public funds.

ICT – The Intra-Company Transfer route is for established workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to do a skilled role in the UK.

Indefinite leave to remain is a grant of settlement which gives an individual the right to work, study and travel into and out of the UK without restriction, as well as access to state benefits and to register their UK-born children as British citizens.

An initial decision is the first decision by the Home Office on an asylum application. Initial decisions include: grants of asylum; grants of humanitarian protection (HP), discretionary leave (DL), UASC leave, leave to remain (LTR) under family or private life rules, leave outside of the rules (LOTR); and refusals. An initial decision may subsequently be overturned following an appeal or reconsideration.

Innovator – The Innovator route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable and scalable business idea they have generated, or to which they have significantly contributed. The application must be supported by an endorsing body.

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was a survey of a random sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK by air, sea or the Channel Tunnel.

A landing card was a form completed by all non-EEA national passengers subject to immigration control, which is given to the Border Force Officer on arrival. A landing card was completed for each journey; a person who makes more than one journey is counted on each occasion. A controlled landing card is one where the passenger has been granted leave to enter and is intending to stay for at least six months; a noncontrolled landing card is one where the passenger is intending to stay for less than six months and does not intend to work.

Leave outside the rules may be granted in exceptional circumstances where a refusal of entry would not constitute a breach of European Convention on Human Rights Article 8, refugee convention or obligations, but would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family.

Leave to remain is permission to stay in the UK either temporarily (limited leave to remain) or permanently (indefinite leave to remain). In this release, an extension of leave to remain is known as ‘extension of stay’.

Main applicant is the primary named person on an applicant. There may only be one main applicant per application. A main applicant can have one or more dependants.

A dependant is an individual who will be considered as part of an application from another individual (main applicant) and is not claiming in their own right. This will usually be a child, spouse or partner of a main applicant’.

Nationality is often used interchangeably with citizenship, and some datasets, refer to ‘nationals’ of a country rather than ‘citizens’. Different datasets have different ways of establishing someone’s nationality.

Non-compliance grounds signify a failure to cooperate with the process to examine and decide the asylum claim within a reasonable period. This includes failure to respond to invitations to interview to establish identity. In these cases, an application is considered to be implicitly withdrawn (a ‘non-substantiated withdrawal’).

Non-detained enforced removals include all enforced removals taking place more than 2 days after an individual has left detention, or where there was no period of detention prior to the enforced removal.

A non-suspensive appeal (or “out-of-country” appeal) is a right of appeal where a claim has been certified as ‘clearly unfounded’ and the applicant will not have the right to appeal against the decision while still in the UK. In these cases, any subsequent appeal must be made through the non-suspensive appeals process, after removal from UK (generally to the country in which the applicant claims to fear persecution).

Official Statistics are defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 as all those statistical outputs produced by central Government departments and agencies, by the Office for National Statistics, by the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, or by other Crown bodies.

Other returns from detention include removals either directly from detention or up to 2 days after leaving detention, of individuals who have notified the Home Office that they wish to make their own arrangements to leave the country and have provided evidence to this effect, but where the Home Office facilitated or monitored the return.

Other verified returns relate to immigration offenders (liable to removal from the UK) or those subject to immigration control (not yet notified of liability to removal) for who it has been established have left or have been identified leaving the UK without formally informing the Home Office of their departure. These people can be identified either at embarkation controls or by a variety of data-matching initiatives. In some cases, it can take some time to identify these cases through data matching initiatives. As a result, data for more recent periods are subject to significant upward revision.

PBS child dependent and PBS partner dependent – Routes for persons seeking to come to the UK as a dependent partner or dependent child of a Skilled Worker

The Points-based system (PBS) is the previous points based system, superseded in late 2020, which consisted of five ‘tiers’. See the definitions for the individual tiers, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4 and Tier 5 for further information.

Port of entry is an airport, seaport or rail terminal through which people from outside the UK enter the country.

Private Life: grant of leave to remain in the UK because the person has established a private life in the UK. In order to be eligible to apply for leave to remain on the basis of private life in the UK, the applicant must have resided continuously in the UK for at least 20 years or be able to demonstrate that there are very significant obstacles to their integration in the country to which they would return. For young people aged between 18 and 24 the applicant must have resided continuously in the UK for at least half of their life, and for children aged under 18 the applicant must have resided continuously in the UK for at least 7 years and show that it would not be reasonable to expect them to leave the UK. Applicants can only apply for this route from within the UK.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Individuals who are granted asylum, or resettled in the UK, have refugee status.

Returns relate to people, including dependants, leaving the UK either voluntarily when they no longer had a right to stay in the UK or where the Home Office has sought to return them to their own country, an EU Member State, or a third country where they are permanently admissible. While individuals refused entry at port and subsequently departing have not necessarily entered the country, their return requires action by the UK Border Force and Home Office, such as being placed on a flight, and is therefore included.

Right of abode is the legal description of a person’s right to enter and live in the UK without any immigration restrictions. All British citizens have the right of abode along with some Commonwealth citizens. This can be evidenced by a British citizen passport or a certificate of entitlement in a foreign passport.

Section 4 support is for individuals whose asylum application has been refused but they are destitute and there are reasons that temporarily prevent them from leaving the UK. Support under Section 4 is provided in the form of accommodation and vouchers to cover the cost of food and other basic essential items.

Section 95 support was set up to provide for destitute asylum seekers while they await a decision on their asylum application. Section 95 support can be provided as both somewhere to live (accommodation), a cash allowance (subsistence), or both.

Section 98 support is the temporary provision of accommodation (intended for short-term use only) for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute and who are:

  • awaiting a decision on their application for Section 95 support; or
  • receiving support under Section 95 but are awaiting transfer to their dispersal accommodation.

Service Providers from Switzerland – The Service Providers from Switzerland route allows eligible employers, companies or self-employed individuals to execute contracts with a party based in the UK for a period not exceeding 90 days per calendar year. The contract must have been signed and commenced on or before the specified date.

Settlement is a grant of indefinite leave to enter (on arrival) or indefinite leave to remain (after entry).

Short term student – This route is for a person aged 16 and over who wants to study an English language course in the UK for between 6 and 11 months at an accredited institution.

Skilled worker – The Skilled Worker route is for employers to recruit people to work in the UK in a specific job. A Skilled Worker must have a job offer in an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office-approved sponsor.

Start-up – The Start-up route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. The person must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body approved by the Home Office.

S2 healthcare Visitor – This route relates to the UK’s exit from the European Union. It is for a person who, before the end of the transition period (11pm on 31 December 2020), had requested authorisation to receive a course of planned healthcare treatment under the S2 route, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.

Third Country is a country outside the UK, of which the applicant is not a citizen, but where they may reside without contravening their rights under the 1951 Refugee Convention. An asylum claim may be refused without substantive consideration if the applicant is believed to have reached a third country prior to claiming in the UK.

Tier 1 of the points-based system (PBS): From 2010-2020: For high value individuals who will contribute to growth and productivity. Prior to 2010: a general route for work.

Tier 2 of the points-based system (PBS): For skilled workers from outside the EEA with a skilled job offer to fill gaps in the UK labour force.

Tier 3 of the points-based system (PBS): For limited numbers of low-skilled workers needed to fill specific temporary labour shortages (this has never been implemented).

Tier 4 of the points-based system (PBS): Students.

Tier 5 of the *points-based system (PBS): Youth mobility and temporary workers: people allowed to work in the UK for a limited period of time to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives.

UK ancestry is a possible route of entry to work and/or settle in the UK for Commonwealth citizens without right of abode if they can show that they have a grandparent who was born in the UK. For these purposes Commonwealth Countries are defined in Schedule 3, British Nationality Act 1981.

An Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Child (UASC) is a person who is under 18 years of age at the time their asylum application is submitted; is applying for asylum in their own right; and is not being cared for by an adult who in law or by custom has responsibility to do so.

A visa national is: a national of a country listed as requiring a visa for any type of entry to the UK; a stateless person; a holder of a non-national travel document unless issued by the UK; or a holder of a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK. Visa nationals must obtain entry clearance before travelling to the UK, except in certain circumstances, unless they are returning residents or those with permission to stay who are returning after a temporary absence.

Visitor – This route is for a person who wants to visit the UK for a temporary period, (usually for up to 6 months), for purposes such as tourism, visiting friends or family, carrying out a business activity, or undertaking a short course of study.

Visitor switchers are people who stated the intention in the IPS to stay in the destination country for less than a year, but who actually stay for a year or longer.

Voluntary returns comprise assisted returns, controlled returns, and other verified returns. It does not include assisted or controlled returns that occur from detention, these are included in the ‘other returns from detention’ category.

Voluntary Returns Service (VRS) includes support available to individuals who are in the asylum system or who are irregular migrants and who wish to return home permanently to either their country of origin or to a third country where they are permanently admissible. VRS was created in January 2016 to bring non detained voluntary returns under a central team making access to return easier. This included the assisted voluntary return programme returning to a Home Office led programme providing reintegration assistance to those that meet the eligibility criteria.

Withdrawn asylum claim is a claim for asylum that has been withdrawn either explicitly (where the applicant signs a form to withdraw an application), or implicitly (where the applicant fails to attend the substantive interview, leaves the UK prior to the conclusion of the application without authorisation, or fails to complete an asylum questionnaire as requested).

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