Indians were the largest group of skilled workers granted visas to live and work in the UK last year at 57 per cent, according to official figures released on Thursday (23).
The home office said Indians accounted for 53,575 skilled work visas granted in 2016, and US nationals were the second largest group at 9,348.
“Indian nationals accounted for 57 per cent of total skilled work visas granted (53,575 of 93,244)… The information technology sector sponsored 42 per cent of skilled work visa applications, followed by professional, scientific and technical activities (19 per cent) and financial and insurance activities (12 per cent),” the Office of National Statistics said in its immigration update.
Indians also accounted for over half the applications made in the sponsored skilled visa category last year at 30,556 of the total 56,058 applications.
“Indian nationals were issued the largest proportion (40 per cent of the total) of skilled work visas in the 2010 cohort and, of these skilled Indian nationals, 32 per cent had received settlement after five years, while a further 12 per cent still had valid leave to remain in the UK,” the ONS said.
The student visa figures for India registered a very slight uptick with 11,330 granted in 2016, up from 11,160 in 2015.
The latest figures will further highlight the importance of mobility of professionals and students as part of the wider India-UK relationship.
“For us, mobility is key for our services sector. There has to be a system where our professionals can come to the UK and return. They contribute immensely to both the Indian and British economies,” Indian high commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha recently said.
Overall, net migration to the UK dropped to 273,000 last year up until September 2016, down 49,000 from the previous year. It is still far short of the UK government’s target figure for net migration to be under 100,000.
The ONS figures record the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and those leaving.
Immigration was estimated to be 596,000, including 268,000 EU citizens and 257,000 non-EU citizens (which includes Indian nationals).
They included the highest level ever recorded of Romanians and Bulgarians coming into the UK at 74,000, one of the major factors behind the vote in favour of Brexit last June.
“This is the first release to contain long-term international migration estimates including three months of data following the EU referendum. Although we have seen a fall in net migration of EU citizens there have been continued increases in immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, so it is too early to say what effect the referendum result has had on long-term international migration,” said Nicola White, ONS Head of International Migration Statistics.