Net migration is set to hit more than 300,000 this year, returning it to the record levels of the mid-2010s, despite manifesto pledges to reduce it.
Official figures next month are expected to reveal net migration has increased by more than a quarter in a year from 239,000 last year, putting it on a par with the numbers before Britain voted to leave the EU and “take control of its borders”.
It follows a record 1.12 million applications by foreign nationals to work, study, resettle or join family in the UK in the past year.
The number of work visas issued to foreign nationals and their dependents has hit more than 330,000 in the year to June 2022, up nearly 80 per cent on the previous year.
Tom Pursglove, the immigration minister, admitted demand for work visas has been “extremely high” and “above forecasts”, forcing the Home Office to put on extra staff to process applications.
The disclosures will fuel the Cabinet row over proposals to further relax immigration restrictions to boost growth that saw Suella Braverman resign as Home Secretary.
Ms Braverman was resisting demands by Liz Truss and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to liberalise the regime and to maintain net migration in at least the 200,000s to convince the Office for Budget Responsibility that growth from immigration could plug a £10 billion black hole in the finances.
The former Home Secretary saw it as a breach of the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto pledge to bring down overall migration after declaring it her ambition at the Tory conference to reduce it to “tens of thousands”.