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EU citizens coming to work in the UK increasingly have confirmed jobs and are not arriving to seek employment, specialist lawyers said yesterday after it emerged that net migration had fallen by a third.
Official figures revealed the drop in migration in the year after Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
There was also a large rise in the number of EU citizens applying for British nationality, as well as a significant jump in the number of them being issued with UK permanent residence cards.
Net migration, the difference between those arriving and those leaving for more than a year, fell by 106,000 to 230,000 in the year after the referendum, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
It was the largest annual fall since records began in 1964.
“Lower numbers of EU citizens entering the UK are mainly coming for confirmed jobs alone, with few arriving and work-seeking,” said Jonathan Beech, the managing director of Migrate UK, a specialist law firm.
The number of EU citizens entering the UK to seek work had dropped by 47,000, he said, adding that “for employers there’s also a double whammy of a 28,000 fall in non-EU migration”. This added “to skills and labour shortages amongst our clients in sectors such as IT, finance, manufacturing and engineering”, he said.
The lawyer added that in the lead up to Brexit, British businesses should conduct internal audits to ensure all foreign workers are correctly documented. His firm’s research found that nearly 400 of 1,000 organisations surveyed “needed training on what official documents must be held for non-British/non-EEA workers, while half of businesses were also unaware of the paperwork they should keep for British workers should the Home Office pay a visit”.