Polish migrants overtake Indians as most common overseas nationality in the UK

Poles are now the most common migrants in the UK. Picture: Jane Barlow
Poles are now the most common migrants in the UK. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Poland is now the most common overseas country of birth in the UK after overtaking India for the first time.

The revelation came as figures showed net long-term migration dipped slightly – but remains close to record levels and more than three times the government’s target.

There were an estimated 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 – a jump of almost three quarters of a million compared with 2004, the year the country joined the EU.

This compared with 795,000 people born in India, which had been the most common non-UK country of birth for the previous 11 years. Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “Traditionally the UK’s relationship with Ireland and the former colonies have been key factors in shaping its migrant population.

“What we can see from current data is that in recent years the EU has played a similar role.”

Overall, one in eight people living in the UK last year was born abroad, while one in 12 had non-British nationality – compared with one in 11 and one in 20 in 2004 respectively.

There were 3.2 million EU citizens in Britain in 2015 – a figure which has almost tripled in just over a decade.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)also show that 3.2 million EU nationals were living in the UK in 2015.

In Scotland this equates to 181,000 or one in every 30 people.

Meanwhile, net migration to the UK – the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving – stood at an estimated 327,000 in the year to March. This was a slight fall compared with the previous 12 months, but still the third highest level on record.

Nicola White, of ONS, said: “Net migration remains at record levels, although the recent trend is broadly flat.”

The findings sparked fresh controversy over the Tories’ aim to bring the figure below 100,000.

Lord Green, of campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: “Unfortunately, these figures show no progress in reducing net migration from the record level of one third of a million a year.

“The referendum result demonstrated public concern about the scale of immigration. It simply cannot be allowed to continue.”

Shadow Home Office minister Carolyn Harris said: “Once again, the Tory promise on immigration lies in tatters and net migration remains more than three times their target.”