Eastern European migrant worker applications drop by a third on last year

The number of Eastern European migrants coming to work in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since new states joined the EU in 2004, according to official Home Office statistics.

The figures show that between April and June 2008 there were 40,000 applications to the Worker Registration Scheme from nationals of the eight accession countries – a drop of 14,000 from the same period last year and a fall of 9,000 from the first three months of this year.

The number of Bulgarians and Romanians applying to work in the UK has also dropped to its lowest level since accession in January 2007 with only 7,005 applications for worker cards and registration certificates between April and June of this year, compared with 10,860 in the same period last year.

Border and immigration minister Liam Byrne said: “I have repeatedly made it clear that people who come here must earn the right to stay, work hard and play by the rules.”

The government has cracked down on immigration this year with the introduction of a new points-based system to allow only the workers Britain needs and tougher penalties targeting those employing illegal workers.

Other figures released today (21 August) show that the number of migrants coming to the UK for a year or more has risen to a record level. Between mid-2006 and mid-2007, 605,000 long-term migrants arrived, up from 591,000 in the previous 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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