Immigration to the United Kingdom, Immigration to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since 1922, has been substantial, in particular from Ireland and the former colonies of the British Empire - such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Caribbean, South Africa, Kenya and Hong Kong - under British nationality law. Others have come as asylum seekers, seeking protection as refugees under the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, or from European Union (EU) member states, exercising one of the EUs Four Freedoms.
About half the population increase between the 1991 and 2001 censuses was due to foreign-born immigration. 4.9 million People (8.3 percent of the population at the time) were born abroad, although the census gives no indication of their immigration status or intended length of stay.
In 2006, there were 149,035 applications for British citizenship, 32 percent fewer than in 2005. The number of people granted citizenship during 2006 was 154,095, 5 per cent fewer than in 2005. The largest groups of people granted British citizenship were from India, Pakistan, Somalia and the Philippines. In 2006, 134,430 people were granted settlement in the UK, a drop of 25 per cent on 2005.Meanwhile, migration from Central and Eastern Europe has increased since 2004 with the accession to the European Union of eight Central and Eastern European states, since there is free movement of labour within the EU. The UK government is currently phasing in a new points-based immigration system for people from outside of the European Economic Area.
Until the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, all Commonwealth citizens could enter and stay in the United Kingdom without any restriction. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 made Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) whose passports were not directly issued by the United Kingdom Government (i.e. passports issued by the Governor of a colony or by the Commander of a British protectorate) subject to immigration control.
Indians began arriving in the UK in large numbers shortly after their country gained independence in 1947. More than 60,000 arrived before 1955, many of whom drove buses, or worked in foundries or textile factories. Later arrivals opened corner shops or ran post offices. The flow of Indian immigrants peaked between 1965 and 1972, boosted in particular by Idi Amins sudden decision to expel all 50,000 Gujarati Indians from Uganda. Around 30,000 Ugandan Asians migrated to the UK.
By 1972, only holders of work permits, or people with parents or grandparents born in the UK could gain entry - effectively stemming primary immigration from Commonwealth countries.
Following the end of World War II, substantial groups of people from Soviet-controlled territories settled in Britain, particularly Poles and Ukrainians. The UK recruited displaced people as so-called European Volunteer Workers in order to provide labour to industries that were required in order to aim economic recovery after the war. In the 1951 census, the Polish-born population of the UK numbered some 162,339, up from 44,642 in 1931.
There was also an influx of refugees from Hungary, following the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, numbering 20,990.
The British Nationality Act 1981, which was enacted in 1983, distinguishes between British citizen or British Overseas Territories citizen. The former hold nationality by descent and the latter hold nationality other than by descent. Citizens by descent cannot automatically pass on British nationality to a child born outside the United Kingdom or it's Overseas Territories (though in some situations the child can be registered as a citizen).
Immigration officers have to be satisfied about a persons nationality and identity and entry could be refused if they were not satisfied.