Home / Highlights / 2020
Last minute increase in emigration to the UK
Inês Vidigal
Between 2015 and 2017, the number of Portuguese emigrants entering the UK decreased from 32,000 to 23,000, a decline of about one third in two years. This decline was more pronounced between 2016 and 2017 (-26%). However, in the first three quarters of 2019 there was a new growth in Portuguese emigration to the United Kingdom. +

Although the available data does not yet include the figures for the last quarter, everything indicates that more than 21 thousand Portuguese entered the United Kingdom in 2019, an increase of 15% compared to 2018. 

According to data from the Department for Work and Pensions, 17,910 Portuguese entered the United Kingdom between January and September 2019. That British body accounted for a total of 575,622 foreigners entering the United Kingdom for the same period, with the Portuguese representing 3.1% of that total. In relation to the same period of 2018 (January to September), the number of Portuguese who entered the United Kingdom increased around 40%, from 13,212 in 2018 to 17,910 in 2019. This increase was more marked than that of all the entries of migrants into the United Kingdom (+26%), but the evolution of Portuguese emigration followed the general trend of reversing the decrease of entries into the United Kingdom before Brexit.

This growth, in addition to being able to include some cases of regularisation of previous emigration, is probably due to the perception that, after Brexit, it may be more difficult to emigrate to the UK: 'now or never' will be the reason for a last-minute growth already known in other cases, such as when in Mexico there are plans to close the US border further to immigration from the South. If what is known in other cases happens, it is even possible that Brexit will result in a greater tendency for immigrants in the country to settle, given the fear that abandoning the European Union could jeopardise the possibility of movement between the United Kingdom and the countries of origin. After Brexit, many Portuguese living in the United Kingdom may wonder whether it is prudent to leave the United Kingdom for a while without guarantees, as now, that they will be able to return a few years later.





Cite as Vidigal, Inês (2020), “Last minute increase in emigration to the UK”, Observatório da Emigração


[By Inês Vidigal]

Observatório da Emigração Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

Av. das Forças Armadas,
1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal

T. (+351) 210 464 322

F. (+351) 217 940 074

Partners Support
ceg Logo IS logo_SOCIUS Logo_MNE Logo_Comunidades