How many people have come here recently?


It is estimated that around 175,000 long-term international migrants arrived in N Ireland between 2000 and 2014. Of these 143,000 left at some point and 32,000 remained. There are variations towards the end of this period. Because of the financial crisis and recession, between 2009 and 2013 more people left than arrived. There has been a small upturn recently, with 2,237 more people arriving than leaving between July 2013 and June 2014.
The expansion of the local economy following the peace process coincided with the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and so, many of the increased number of jobs were filled by people from the eight EU Accession States: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, with the largest number from Poland. At this time, Northern Ireland unemployment figures were at an historic low.

The numbers of migrant arrivals varied by local government district, with the greatest numbers in Mid Ulster; Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Newry and Mourne; and Down.

In June 2016 the NI Assembly Research and Information Service published a research paper on International Migration with the latest statistics. 

Immigration trends

  • Outward migration (emigration) exceeded inward migration (immigration) throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
  • In both 2005-06 and 2006-07 the population increased by an estimated 10,000.
  • In 2007-08 the inflow of people slowed because of the recession and the population grew by 5,700. By 2008-09 there were only around an extra 2,100 people.
  • In 2010 the population continued to rise because of other factors (i.e. births and deaths) but roughly the same number of people left as came here – around 22,500.
  • Inward migration has also halted our population decline because many newcomers are of childbearing age. In 2010, 2,473 babies were born here to mothers who were born outside the UK or Republic of Ireland.

NI Statistics and Research Agency migration figures. 

Has the recession had an effect?

  • An estimated 23,500 people left NI to live elsewhere in the year to June 2009 and 21,400 left a net increase of 2,100 people.
  • The number of work permits issued for N Ireland to people from outside the European Economic Area has fallen from 3,930 in 2004–05 to 1,420 in 2008–09. This trend is likely to continue with the government cap on non-European migrants.
  • This means that immigration has slowed but not stopped. In 2007–08 the increase was 5,700 and in both 2005–06 and 2006–07 10,000 extra people came.

These figures are from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) Read more about their 2009 findings at

See how the 2009 figures are compiled at