Indian professionals were granted the largest number of skilled work visas in the year up to June 2016, reflecting continued demand for their skills mainly in the IT, medicine, engineering and services sectors, according to official figures released on Thursday.
Indian citizens accounted for 57% of total skilled work visas granted (53,548 of 93,935), with US nationals the next largest nationality group (10,019 or 11% of the total), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in its August quarterly report.
UK visa terms have been tightened in recent years, but another indication of Indians taking up new jobs in Britain was the list of citizens of non-EU countries applying for mandatory National Insurance Numbers - Indians topped it with 34,000 issued to them.
ONS figures also revealed Poland, with an estimated 831,000 people born in the EU country, overtook India as the country of origin of most non-UK born population in Britain. So far, India and Ireland have traditionally been the sources of the UK's largest foreign-born groups.
Indian students continued to give Britain the miss, with the number of student visas issued during the year to June 2016 being 10,664. Once one of the topmost source countries for students, India is now third on the list, after China and the US.
“There was a statistically significant decline in the number of non-EU citizens migrating to the UK to study, from 134,000 in the previous year to 111,000. Of the 111,000, 72% were citizens of Asian countries, though there was a statistically significant decline in citizens of South Asia, with the number coming to study having almost halved,” the ONS said.
With net migration remaining at more than 300,000, the figures continued to challenge the Conservative government, which is committed to reducing the figure to tens of thousands from hundreds of thousands.
Nicola White of the ONS said: "Net migration remains at record levels although the recent trend is broadly flat. The influx of Romanians and Bulgarians has also reached a new high, although that's offset by falls in non-EU immigration and from other central and eastern European countries.
"It's important to remember that these figures only go up to the end of March and do not cover the period following the UK's vote to leave the European Union," she said.