The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that immigration to the UK has fallen to 497,000 in 2012 from 566,000 in 2011. However, 321,000 emigrants left the UK in the year ending December 2012, a decrease from the 351,000 who emigrated during the previous year. As a result, net migration has increased in the year ending December 2012 when compared to the year ending September 2012.

The number of visas issued, excluding visitor and transit visas, was 4% lower than the previous year. At the same time, there has been a 7% increase in the number of sponsored visa applications for skilled workers.

Student visitor visas saw an increase of 5%. By contrast, sponsored study visas applications fell 2% in the year ending June 2013. However, there was a 4% increase for the university sector and falls of 25% for further education, 16% for English language schools, and 3% for independent schools.

The Home Office has stated that these 'figures show that [its] reforms are having the desired effect – tightening the immigration routes where abuse was rife, but still encouraging the brightest and best to come [to the UK] to study and work'. Please click here for further details.