Net migration to Britain falls
Net migration into Britain has fallen by more than a third, according to fresh figures, as the number of immigrants arriving in the country dropped ''significantly''.
A net flow of 153,000 migrants came to the UK in the year to September 2012, down from 242,000 in the previous year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The decline was driven by a drop in the number of immigrants coming to Britain, which fell from 581,000 to 500,000, while the number of migrants leaving the country rose from 339,000 to 347,000.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "Net migration is now at its lowest level for a decade showing we are continuing to bring immigration back under control. Today's statistics show another significant fall in net migration - down by more than a third since June 2010. This has been driven in the most recent period by a decline in the number of people coming to the UK, as stated by the independent Office for National Statistics.
"The figures show we have cut out abuse while encouraging the brightest and best migrants who contribute to economic growth, with a 5% increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for our world-class universities, and a 5% increase in the number of visas issued to skilled workers.
"We have made substantial inroads in cutting immigration and now have a more selective system that works in our national interest. Looking forward, our Immigration Bill will reduce the pull factors to this country and make it easier to remove people with no right to be here."
Labour immigration spokesman Chris Bryant said: "As Labour has said before, the pace and scale of immigration, particularly low-skilled, has been too high and it's right that it comes down.
"These figures show 17,000 fewer British people returning to the UK and 26,000 more leaving, which is a large part of the reduction. The rest appears to be fewer international students coming in, but we know many of these have just been displaced into Student Visitor Visas which aren't counted.
"Because of this focus on the net migration target the Government is not doing enough on illegal immigration, failing to deport, failing to prevent absconding, and failing to take action to stop employers using both illegal and legal migrants to undercut wages.
"This is the sort of immigration the public worry about rather than international students at our universities, or the number of British citizens leaving or coming home."