E.g., 09/29/2023
E.g., 09/29/2023
Future Immigration Patterns and Policies in the United Kingdom
October 2009

Future Immigration Patterns and Policies in the United Kingdom

In the past decade, the size and characteristics of immigration to the United Kingdom have changed significantly. Immigrants are more numerous, more mobile, and more diverse than ever before. The experience of immigration is different: immigrants are coming from a broader array of countries, staying for shorter periods of time, enjoying significant engagement with communities outside of the United Kingdom, and are no longer settling solely in cities.

In parallel, UK immigration policy has undergone radical changes. Public opinion (which leans toward restricting immigration) and other forces have prompted policymakers to focus their efforts on combating illegality and on flows of asylum seekers. At the same time, economic pressures have dictated the need to hone selection systems so the country can attract desirable economic immigrants.

Despite the current recession, immigration to the United Kingdom is expected to remain at approximately 150,000 net immigrants per year. To successfully manage these flows in a way that benefits both the economy and the migrants themselves, this paper identifies three main challenges facing politicians: improving public trust, promoting immigrant integration, and establishing good governance practices (especially with regard to illegality).

This paper begins with an analysis of the changed environment and context of immigration to the United Kingdom before outlining some of the strategies policymakers should focus on to address the three challenges.

Table of Contents 

I. Executive summary

II. Introduction: UK Migration Patterns

III. How Have Politicians Responded?

IV. Horizon Scanning

V. Challenges and New Policy Directions

VI. How to Effect Change

VII. Final Thoughts: Challenges and the Importance of Narrative