The Home Office has recently released its latest official migration statistics for the year ending December 2022. The new data provides the latest estimates of the number of people who arrived in the UK or extended their stay, sought asylum, applied for citizenship, and whom the UK detained or deported. Additionally, the statistics provide insights into immigration for work, study, or family purposes.

According to the latest statistics, there were a total of 2,836,490 visas granted, which is 11% lower than in 2019. This decrease is primarily due to 1 million fewer visitor visa grants. However, the total number of visas granted continues to rise as the world recovers from the effects of the pandemic. The breakdown of the visas granted in 2022 is as follows:

  • Visit: 49%
  • Study: 22%
  • Work: 15%
  • Family Reasons: 3%
  • Other Reasons: 11%

The Home Office visa statistics for 2022 are mainly compared to the data recorded in 2019, which was the year before the global pandemic outbreak. Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, several global events such as the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, the National Security Law in Hong Kong, and recent immigration policy changes have likely impacted visa numbers. Therefore, visa statistics are subject to more uncertainty regarding overall trends.

Here are the key highlights from the recent publication of the latest statistics.

Work Visas

In 2022, the number of work visa grants almost doubled from 2019, with 267,670 grants to main applicants. Long-term sponsored work visas and temporary work visas drove this increase.

Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas accounted for more than half (54%) of all work visas granted, with Indian nationals receiving the most grants in both categories. The number of Seasonal Worker visa grants also increased to 34,532, almost half (49%) of all ‘Temporary Worker’ visas granted to main applicants, due to the increase in the route’s quota from 2,500 in 2019 to 40,000 in 2022.

Study Visas

In 2022, the number of sponsored study visas issued to main applicants was 485,758, which is 81% more than in 2019. However, changes in travel patterns due to the pandemic may have contributed to more students applying for visas in 2022, so caution should be exercised when making comparisons at this time.

Indian nationals received the most visas under this category, with 139,539 grants, an increase of 307% compared to 2019. Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality, with 102,842 visas granted.

Dependents of students accounted for more than a fifth (22%) of all sponsored study-related visas granted, compared to just 6% in 2019.

Family Visas

Family-related visas are for individuals who intend to live with a family member designated within the UK’s Immigration Rules. These visas include those coming to join a British citizen or a settled migrant as part of their family.

In 2022, 48,107 family-related visas were granted, which is 14% less than in 2019. The majority (76%) of family-related visas issued in 2022 were for partners, while the remaining visas were for children or other dependents.

Settlement & Citizenship

In 2022, the UK made 133,451 decisions on settlement applications, indicating a 24% increase from 2021 and a 41% increase from 2019. The authorities approved 131,728 (99%) of these decisions. Moreover, there were 190,741 applications for British citizenship in 2022, which was 9% higher than in 2019. Granting of UK citizenship also rose by 10% compared to 2019.

EU nationals made up 24% of all citizenship applications in 2022, which is double the number from 2016. This increase may be due to people seeking to confirm their status in the UK after the EU referendum and the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ukraine Visa Schemes

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, the UK government introduced two bespoke visa schemes for Ukrainian nationals who wanted to come to the UK or extend their stay. By the end of the year, the Home Office had granted 208,309 applications out of the total 248,107 received across both schemes.

The Ukraine Family Scheme received 77,460 applications and 61,786 grants, while the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme received 171,383 applications and 146,603 grants. Furthermore, the authorities granted 22,661 extensions, of which 7,502 were under the Ukraine Family Scheme and 15,159 were under the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

Sponsor Licencing

To sponsor international workers or students on sponsored work or study visas in the UK, employers and educational institutions must hold a valid Home Office sponsor licence. As of the end of 2022, there were more than 57,000 institutions and organizations registered as licensed sponsors for study and work.

Home Office data shows that the number of decisions on applications for sponsor licences increased significantly from 15,882 in 2021 to 26,604 in 2022. Of the 26,604 decisions made, authorities granted 19,944 licences while they refused 6,660.