UK Net Immigration Up By 58,000 in 2013, Figures Show

There was a net flow of 212,000 long-term migrants to the UK in the year ending September 2013, an increase from 154,000 in the previous year, the Office for National Statistics said.

There was a significant increase in immigration of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to 24,000, from 9,000 in the previous year. An estimated 70% arrived for work and 30% for study, the ONS said.

The highest increases of national insurance numbers issued to overseas nationals were for citizens of Poland, Spain, Italy and Portugal, an increase of 19%.

People prepare to board a bus to London at the central bus station in Sofia, Bulgaria

The new statistics show that 532,000 people immigrated to the UK in the year ending September 2013, which the ONS said was "not a statistically significant difference from 497,000 the previous year".

There was an 8% increase in asylum applications in 2013 compared with 2012 , although well below the 2002 level. The increase in 2013 was "particularly driven by rises from Syria, Eritrea and Albania" the ONS said.

The number of EU citizens settling in the UK rose by 60,000, but the number of non-EU migrants fell by 25,000.

And Brits are not emigrating by as much as they were the previous year, 12,000 fewer left the UK to settle abroad.

The most significant increase was in EU citizens, with 209,000 immigrating to the UK, up from 149,000 the previous year. 40,000 more EU citizens arrived for work than the previous year, another statistically significant increase.

Ministers have been working "flat out" to attract international candidates but Indian press coverage about reforms to hit the net migration target has been "surprisingly negative", Willetts told Total Politics magazine.

But recent recruitment figures from Romania have cast doubt that citizens are more keen to move to Britain after working restrictions were lifted this year.

UK firms have increased the number of jobs on offer to Romanians so dramatically that there was fewer than one applicant per job, on average, in January this year. British employers offered more than 10,000 jobs to Romanians via recruiter Tjobs in the first month of 2014.

And warnings from the right-wing press that flights from Romania and Bulgaria were packed to the rafters and coaches sold out months in advance of January this year have proved misjudged, after a survey of travel companies found that transport was not sold out.

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