The immigration statistics released by the ONS yesterday are a snapshot of the situation to the end of Q2 2015 (30 June). My interpretation of the headlines and comparing Q2 with Q1 is this:
The main reasons people came to the UK were:
To work 46%
To study 30%
To accompany or join family 13%
The majority of those who came here to work were EU citizens with the top 5 nationalities being Romania, Poland, Italy, Spain & Bulgaria (in that order).
The majority of those who came here to study were non-EU citizens with the top 5 nationalities being China, USA, India, Malaysia & Nigeria (in that order).
Looking at trends, migration from the EU is largely dictated by “push” factors associated with the weakness of other economies. The UK government may tinker with eligibility for benefits but this really isn't going to make much, if any, difference. Therefore it’s difficult to see migration from the EU falling unless there are structural changes elsewhere. On the other hand I think there is evidence that the increase in non-EU migration we've seen over the last couple of years may have peaked and if I was a betting man I’d place a modest wager on non-EU migration falling in Q4 2015/Q1 2016.