Chris Bryant MP, Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister, commenting on today's migration figures published by the ONS, said:
“Ministers are unwise to harp about their policies. These figures show the fall in net migration in the last year is mainly due to British citizens leaving and of switching foreign students onto different kinds of visas.
"These figures show the problems with the Government’s net migration promise and why Ministers risk focusing on the wrong part of the problem, especially when illegal immigration is getting worse.
“Net migration is now broadly at the level of 2009. Half of this year’s reduction is in fact made up of British citizens - with 10,000 more Brits leaving and 20,000 fewer returning from living abroad. Net migration by foreign citizens into Britain actually remains higher than at the time of the General Election.
“Much of the drop is also explained by students switching visas. There has been a drop of 12,000 in the number of students. However the number of student visitor visas which are not included in the ‘net migration’ measure, and which are subject to far fewer checks has increased by 20,000 or 44%.
“At the same time the Government is failing to tackle illegal immigration which is getting steadily worse. With a backlog of 153,000 students who have been notified to the Government as potentially having gone missing and the failure to do security checks on the ‘archive’ of asylum seekers who have also been lost."