IMMIGRATION and emigration both fell in 2012, official figures revealed yesterday, resulting in an overall slowdown in the net flow of people into the UK.
A total of 497,000 people migrated to the UK last year, a sharp drop from the 566,000 in the previous 12 months.
At the same time emigration levels fell from 351,000 to 321,000, leaving a net immigration figure of 176,000 long-term immigrants, a drop of 39,000 on the year.
The flow of migrants arriving to study held steady, coming in at 180,000 in 2012, up 1,000 on the year.
And the number of visas issued dipped four per cent in the 12 months to June 2013, falling from 520,073 to 501,840.
Those visa numbers show a particularly sharp drop in immigrants coming to the UK from Asia, with a drop of more than 20,000 from 284,246 in the year to June 2012, to 263,893 in the following 12-month period.
Numbers from Oceania also dipped from 25,658 to 23,657 over the same period.
However, African, American, Middle Eastern and European visa numbers all edged up on the year.
Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics also revealed a rise in the proportion of the population born abroad, over the last eight years.
In 2012 12.4 per cent of residents were born overseas, up from 8.9 per cent in 2004.
India is the most common non-UK country of birth, the ONS said, with 729,000 residents born in the country – 9.5 per cent of all residents born abroad.
And Polish is the most common non-UK nationality with 700,000 residents in the UK.
EU-born foreigners make up 2.6m of the resident population.