In this post, I present a few charts that detail which areas of the world send most immigrants to the UK. Data are from the House of Commons Library, and the Office for National Statistics. The first chart displays the distribution of foreign immigrants to the UK by country of birth. Note that Western Europe corresponds to the EU15, while Eastern Europe corresponds to the EUA8. Data are for 2004-2012 because figures were not available for Eastern Europe separately before 2004. 33% of immigrants to the UK over this period were from Europe, 38% were from Commonwealth countries, and the remaining 30% were from other countries.
The second chart displays the distribution of foreign net migrants to the UK by country of birth. Unlike the figures above, these take into account the fact that a certain number of foreign migrants living in the UK emigrate back to their home countries (or elsewhere) each year. Here the proportion of migrants from Europe is slightly lower, while the proportion of migrants from outside Europe is slightly higher. 28% of net migrants to the UK over 2004-2012 were from Europe, 41% were from Commonwealth countries, and the remaining 31% were from other countries.
The final chart displays the 20 largest foreign-born populations in the UK. Among these, the five largest are: Indians, of whom there are about 730 thousand; Poles, of whom there are about 650 thousand; Pakistanis, of whom there are about 470 thousand; Irish, of whom there are about 400 thousand; and Germans, of whom there are about 300 thousand. Overall, given the comparatively small share of migrants from European countries, and the only moderate share of foreign-born citizens from European countries, it is somewhat surprising how much of the debate seems to centre on them.