Myth busters: 5 UK immigration myths debunked

Immigration is undoubtedly the most salient topic in contemporary British politics. As a result, the topic is often shrouded in myths and misconceptions. Popular media outlets often peddle exaggerated narratives about immigration in the UK. These narratives can influence public discourse and government policy and can be harmful. Therefore, it is vital to separate fact from fiction.

In this article, we dispel 5 common myths about asylum seekers, refugees and international students in the UK.

IMMIGRATION MYTH 1 : “ASYLUM SEEKERS RECEIVE HANDOUTS AND COUNCIL HOUSING BEFORE BRITISH CITIZENS”

FACT: Asylum seekers in the UK are not entitled to any state benefits and do not receive housing privileges.

Asylum seekers are entitled to ‘Asylum Support’ which is a fixed amount of £49.18 for each member of their family, per week.

Extra payments are granted for pregnant women and children under 3 years old. The maternity grant for pregnant asylum seekers is a one-off payment of £300. The Maternity Grant can only be claimed once but is available for each baby.

Contrary to popular UK immigration myths, asylum seekers are not entitled to Council Housing or Housing Association housing. Asylum seekers are granted very basic housing and accommodation in the UK. They may be put up in hostels or within adequate housing. Asylum seekers cannot choose where they live. Those who have been granted asylum are housed in the UK on a no choice basis in areas ‘used for dispersal’. These areas include Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.

IMMIGRATION MYTH 2: “THE UK IS OVERRUN WITH ASYLUM SEEKERS”

FACT: The UK is home to just 1% of the world’s refugees. As of 2024, the numbers of refugees in the world stands at 27.1 million.

In 2023, the UK granted refugee status to 38,761 people. By contrast Turkey, who hosts the largest number of refugees of any OECD country, took in 318,903 refugees. That is, ten times the amount of the UK.

The UK actually takes in some of the fewest numbers of asylum seekers in Europe. France, Germany and Sweden receive far more applications than the UK, 60% of the total asylum applications in Europe. France and Germany both receive more than 60,000 applications each year.

IMMIGRATION MYTH 3: “INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE A DRAIN ON THE UK ECONOMY”

FACT: International students make significant contributions to the UK economy.

According to data published by The Guardian, “the economic benefit international students bring to the UK has jumped by a third in three years, boosting the economy by an estimated £42bn in 2021/2…”.

IMMIGRATION MYTH 4: “OVERSEAS STUDENTS RECEIVE ACCESS TO BENEFITS AND DO NOT RETURN TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES”

FACT: International students are not entitled to Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, Council Tax Support or the Second Adult Rebate. Claiming welfare benefits in the UK is a breach of immigration conditions and is a criminal offence.

Data from the ONS shows that “80% of international students leave within five years of arrival.” International students who have successfully completed an undergraduate degree or a masters degree can apply to remain in the UK for up to two years after their studies, without first applying for a work or business visa.

The Graduate visa does not act as a ‘backdoor’ route for international students. The Graduate visa cannot be extended and time spent under the visa does not count toward settlement.

Overseas students can remain in the UK for 2 years after they graduate but after this period, international students wishing to remain in the UK must switch to another visa and meet the strict immigration requirements.

IMMIGRATION MYTH 5: “IMMIGRANTS ARE TAKING OUR JOBS”

FACT: Contrary to popular anti-immigration rhetoric, migrants are essential to the workforce of every country including the UK.

Migrants fill gaps within the labour market, where local workforces are not large or specialised enough to meet market or technological demands. Migrant labour is especially essential to the health and social care industry in the UK and helps to address  concerns of the UK’s ageing population.

By Mya Alghali

How we can help you

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or help with applying for a visa, Thomas Chase Immigration can help. Our processes are tried and tested. We offer an individual touch when assisting you and presenting the matter to UKVI. Contact us at info@thomaschaseimmigration.com.

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