The Home Office has just released immigration statistics for 2014, and it has compared them statistically with the figures for 2013.

Most of them are not particularly dramatic: since 2013 there have been modest upward movements in working visas and family visas granted outside the UK but a fall in the number of grants of leave in the UK (significantly due to the abolition of the Tier 1 General scheme).

The 87 per cent increase in grants of Tier 1 Investor visas from outside the UK looks impressive, but it started from a very low base. But there were an amazing 117 million journeys made to the UK in 2014 (by all nationalities including British), which makes one realise the scale of task faced by the immigration authorities at the airports.

But the one longer-term trend that many people might find interesting was the figures for grants of indefinite leave (ie permission to stay in the UK without time limit). Grants of indefinite leave fell by 33 per cent compared to 2013, and this is part of a downward trend that has been happening since 2010. Falls occurred in all categories: family, work and asylum, and the fall in family-related cases was particularly strong.

What is the reason for this? There were no doubt various contributory factors: the abolition of the Tier 1 General scheme and the removal of the route to indefinite leave for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees must have had an effect. And the dramatic tightening of the requirements for Dependant Relatives (chiefly parents and grandparents) in new rules introduced in 2012 also did; the statistics show this very starkly. The number of visas granted for parents and grandparents in 2014 was so statistically insignificant (158) that it registered as 0 per cent.

Overall, it is a mixed picture, and the figures show that the statistics for immigration are more complex than the figures for net migration – which come so frequently in the media – might indicate.

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