LONDON, England: Official figures have been released indicating that in the year to June, the UK recorded its highest increase in the number of foreign workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with most arriving from outside the European Union.
Since January 2021, most EU citizens in the country who are not employed must be sponsored by an employer and be paid a salary that does not significantly undercut existing wages.
This post-Brexit change has been criticized by employers who find the process bureaucratic and pointless for most jobs that pay less than 25,600 pounds per year.
Data from the Office for National Statistics released this week showed that the number of foreign-born workers in the UK rose by 223,000 in the year to the end of June, the largest rise since early 2020 and up from an increase of 184,000 in the year to March.
"Migration, a key source of worker shortages through the pandemic, is showing some signs of bouncing back," said James Smith, an economist at ING, as quoted by Reuters.
The Bank of England is concerned that a shortage of job candidates could drive up wages too quickly and worsen inflation.
As the salary limits for sponsoring work visas had not risen in line with average wages, which are 5.1 percent higher than last year, migration was likely to rise further, said Samuel Tombs from Pantheon Macroeconomics, according to Reuters.
The latest figures highlight a major shift in migration patterns, compared to the pre-Brexit period.
While the number of EU workers rose by 34,000 over the past year, the number of non-EU workers increased by 189,000.
According to earlier government data, nationals from India, Nigeria and the Philippines were awarded the highest number of skilled worker visas in the year to March.
In the six years since June 2016, the number of non-EU workers in the UK rose to 3.9 million from 3.1 million.