Annual immigration statistics for 2008 and quarterly immigration figures for April to June 2009, covering migration from Eastern Europe, asylum applications and removals and voluntary departures, were published by the Home Office today.
The figures show that work applications from the eight accession countries have continued to fall in 2009. In the second quarter of this year there were 26,150 applications from workers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic - down from 46,070 in the same period in 2008.
The number of Bulgarian and Romanians applying for accession worker cards also continues to fall. There were 580 applications in the second quarter of 2009, a fall of 43 per cent, compared to the same quarter in 2008.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published figures earlier today that show net-migration fell to 118,000 in 2008, from 209,000 in 2007, the lowest since the eight accession countries joined the EU in 2004.
In the first half of 2009, 30,435 people illegally in the UK were removed or voluntarily departed from the country, including 2,550 foreign prisoners. The latest figures also confirm that a total 67,980 people were removed or voluntarily departed in 2008.
Individuals seeking asylum in the UK has remained broadly at the same level over the past four years. It is less than a third of the level when it peaked in 2002. Applications for asylum in the second quarter of 2009 were 6,045 compared with 5,830 in quarter two 2008. The Home Office is now concluding 60 per cent of new asylum cases within six months.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
"The fall in net-migration is further proof that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. Our new flexible points based system gives us greater control on those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come.
"Britain's borders are stronger than ever before. Our border controls in northern France are stopping record numbers of migrants reaching our shores - 28,000 in 2008.
"We are rolling out ID cards to foreign nationals, we have introduced civil penalties for those employing illegal workers and from the end of next year our electronic border system will monitor 95 per cent of journeys in and out of the UK.