London, - Net migration to Britain fell by 49,000 to 273,000 last year, according to official figures that include the three months after the Brexit vote.
The latest quarterly migration figures from the Office for National Statistics show that immigration fell by 23,000 to 596,000 in the 12 months to last September while emigration rose by 26,000 to 323,000.
The fall in annual net immigration to below 300,000 is the first substantial drop in the politically sensitive figure for more than four years and will come as a relief to Theresa May, who has recently renewed her target to get it below 100,000.
A key component in the unexpected fall was an estimated 41,000 drop in the number of international students coming to study in Britain, to 134,000, the lowest level since 2002.
Home Office figures show that the number of EU nationals in Britain who had their applications processed for UK residence documents to secure their individual status more than doubled from 92,289 in 2015 to 201,287 in 2016. More than 140,000 were successful.
The surge in applications continued in the last three months of 2016 with 92,000 outstanding applications listed as "work in progress" on 3 January � about the same level as in the previous snapshot, on 30 September (QNA)
Source: Qatar News Agency