The UK has always been a place of migration.

Historically migrants established the UK textile industry, developed printing, established English royal dynasties and served the UK during times of war as soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and workers.

Currently; the UK is playing it’s part in providing sanctuary for refugees and people fleeing persecution. Also, as part of the European Union, workers always had the right to travel, live and work anywhere in the EU, including the UK. Brexit has removed this freedom.

Migrants can still come from both within and outside of Europe as workers, students, holiday makers and as wives or husbands of UK citizens or residents.

Many migrants have made a positive contribution to the UK. Here in the north west, the first heart transplant unit at Withenshaw Hospital was established by a refugee doctor from Sudan, Mr. Ali Rahman.

Click each picture to discover which of these famous Brits are also migrants - or children of migrants.

Why do migrants come to the UK?

Why do you think migrants come to the UK? 

In 2018 what was the top reason people came here?

The numbers vary year to year and month to month. The government produces quarterly reports on the numbers coming and going.

Watch these two videos.
Are there many differences between them?


European migrants

European and Swiss Nationals

Most European Economic areas and Swiss Nationals can no longer work without restriction in the UK.

This applies to the EU (except Ireland), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (coloured dark grey on map).

These restrictions also apply to EU nationals already resident in the UK, including A2 (coloured orange on map). and A8 (coloured yellow on map) migrant workers.



Click map to enlarge 

Anyone from EU (except Ireland), EEA or Switzerland already living in UK by 31st Dec 2020 has to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If arriving after 1st Jan 2021 they need to apply for a visa

There are situations in which support can be offered to EU nationals, but these are complex and subject to change. Our colleagues at Europia specialise in supporting EU nationals in the UK.


Always seek professional advice before advising any foreign national on benefits - it is illegal to make a claim for benefits you are not entitled to in the UK.

Access to Health Care

All people resident in the UK are entitled to access some health care from the NHS, however, immigration status will affect what they are entitled to.


  • Everyone, regardless of where they come from, is entitled to “immediate and necessary” treatment - this includes pregnant women receiving pre and post natal care, urgent treatment e.g. at A & E and Covid testing, vaccination and treatment.
  • GP’s can excercise discretion to register destitute and unemployed migrants in their practice.


In this short section we have:

  1. Looked at why people come to the UK
  2. Examined the extent of migration into the UK and the reasons people are here
  3. Defined the terms A2 and A8