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Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK

ONS looks at latest changes and trends in migration

This is an update to the Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK- May 2014 guidance note.

This publication is based on data previously published as part of the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, May 2014 Release. It provides focus on Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK and additional guidance on data sources.

There has been a lot of public interest in Bulgarian and Romanian migration to the UK, due to the end of transitional employment restrictions that took place on 1 January 2014. These restrictions had previously placed limits on the kind of employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens could undertake in the UK. Latest figures for the year ending December 2013 show that Bulgarian and Romanian citizens contributed 5% of total immigration to the UK, which is 12% of immigration from the rest of the EU. For more information on EU migration, read here.

What data for 2014 will be available and when?

International Passenger Survey (IPS) 1 statistics estimate the number of long-term migrants entering and leaving the UK during a given period. A long-term migrant is defined as someone changing their country of usual residence for a period of at least one year. Estimates for the year ending March 2014 will be published on 28 August 2014. The first annual figures for calendar year 2014 will be published in May 2015. These figures will show estimates of how many long term immigrants have arrived from Bulgaria and Romania.

Population by country of birth and nationality data show how many of the usually resident population of the UK were born outside the UK and how many are non-British nationals. It is important to note that these figures do not include people living in communal establishments, such as university halls of residence. Estimates for 2014 will be published in August 2015.

Employment levels by country of birth and nationality show the number of Bulgarian and Romanian-born people and Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in employment in the UK. They may have arrived recently and taken up employment immediately, or come to the UK in the past and only recently taken up employment. Estimates for April to June 2014 will be published on 13 August 2014.

Allocations of National Insurance numbers (NINo) to adult overseas nationals show the number of non-British nationals who have been allocated a NINo in a given time period. It is important to note that people may not be allocated a NINo during the same quarter in which they immigrate to the UK. These data will also include people who stay in the UK for less than one year. Estimates for the year ending June 2014 will be published on 28 August 2014.

What do the latest figures show, and how have these changed since 2007?

The latest estimates of long-term migration from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) are for the year ending December 2013 (prior to the lifting of restrictions), when an estimated 23,000 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens immigrated to the UK. This represents a statistically significant increase of 14,000 compared with the estimate for the year ending December 2012, when an estimated 9,000 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens immigrated to the UK.

Figure 1: International Passenger Survey estimates of long-term immigration to the UK, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, 2007 to 2013

Figure 1: International Passenger Survey estimates of long-term immigration to the UK, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, 2007 to 2013
Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

This chart shows how migration of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to the UK has changed since 2007, the year that Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union (EU), subject to transitional employment restrictions. Prior to the year ending June 2013, immigration of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens had peaked at 17,000 in the year ending December 2008, before decreasing to 6,000 by the year ending June 2011. Since 2011, immigration of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens has increased again, reaching 23,000 in the year ending December 2013, a statistically significant difference from the 9,000 who immigrated in the year ending December 2012.

Estimates of emigration of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals show that 3,000 emigrated from the UK in the year ending December 2013, consistent with the 3,000 who emigrated in 2012. Emigration of EU2 nationals has remained steady since the peak of 12,000 in 2008 who stated they were going home to live.

It is worth noting that since IPS estimates are based on a sample survey, they are subject to statistical uncertainty. This means that some apparent changes may be due to random variability in the sample selected, particularly where estimates are small. A statistically significant change means that the difference is likely to reflect a real change in migration patterns and is unlikely to be as a result of random variation in the selected sample.

Why are Bulgarian and Romanian migrants coming to the UK?

The IPS records a person’s main reason for migration, although it should be noted that this may not be a person’s only reason. In the year ending December 2013 (before restrictions were lifted), an estimated 70% of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens (16,000) migrated to the UK for work-related reasons. This is a statistically significant increase on the previous year ending December 2012, when 6,000 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens migrated to the UK for work-related reasons.

What about the trends for 2014, after the restrictions were lifted?

The first available data sources that could provide figures on employment for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and National Insurance Numbers (NINos) allocated to adult overseas nationals. These sources suggest that during 2013 there were increases in the number of EU2 nationals either seeking work or in employment, but there is no evidence currently available that shows an increase in EU2 migration since 1st January 2014.

In the year ending March 2014, 64,640 NINos were allocated to nationals of Bulgaria and Romania, compared to 28,220 in the year ending March 2013. Between the years ending March 2013 and March 2014, the number of NINos allocated to Bulgarian nationals increased by 71% (from 10,000 to 18,000), whilst the number allocated to Romanian nationals increased by 163% (18,000 to 47,000). It is important to note that registrations can be a period of weeks, months or years after arrival in the UK. In particular, NINo registration figures for EU2 nationals in January to March 2014 are representing migration over an extended period – 78% of new NINo registrations to EU2 nationals in these three months were made to people who had arrived in the UK prior to 1 January 2014. More information on NINo registrations is available on the DWP website.

Data from the LFS shows the number of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in employment in the UK. The latest estimates show 122,000 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals employed in the UK in January to March 2014, a 19% increase on the same period in 2013. Previously reported figures (published on 19 February 2014) show that there were an estimated 125,000 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in employment in the UK in Oct to Dec 2013, compared to 93,000 in the same period in 2012.

Labour Force Survey figures represent an estimate of the stock of people working in the UK, and are not a measure of when people have immigrated to the UK. The NINo statistics represent a flow measure of new registrations by non-UK nationals registering for a National Insurance Number. Figures from NINo data are usually higher than those from the IPS because NINos are also allocated to short term migrants staying in the UK and can be allocated to a person who intends to work even though it may not be their main reason for migrating to the UK.

The best estimates that will show any changes in long term migration between the UK and EU2 countries will be from the International Passenger Survey, since the information is collected at the point of arrival or departure. Estimates for the year ending March 2014 will be published on 28 August 2014.

Where can I find out more about migration statistics?

If you would like to find out more about the latest international migration statistics, please see the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report or visit our international migration page, which includes a First Time User Guide to international migration statistics. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: migstatsunit@ons.gov.uk 

Notes

1. The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a large sample survey carried out at airports, seaports and tunnel routes throughout the UK. It identifies between 4,000 and 5,000 long-term migrants each year from a sample of between 700,000 and 800,000 passengers. IPS estimates of long-term migration do not include adjustments for asylum seekers, people who change their migration intentions or people who cross the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Categories: Population, Migration, International Migration, Long-term Migrants
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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