People born in India have overtaken the Irish to become the largest immigrant group in the UK.
According to latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week, the number of India-born migrants now living permanently in the UK has risen by 232,000 since 2004 to total 734,000 in 2013.
Along with Polish nationals, at 679,000 in 2013, they lead Britain’s surge in population by 1,200 per cent since 1983, adding the equivalent of a city to Britain annually.
“Net migration was at a relatively low level during the 1980s and early 1990s. Since 1994 it has been positive every year and rose sharply after 1997,” the ONS said.
It added: “During the 2000s net migration increased further, partly as a result of immigration of citizens from the countries that have joined the EU since 2004.
“Since the mid-2000s, annual net migration has fluctuated between approximately 150,000 and 300,000.
“More recently, as the UK economy recovers from the economic downturn, net migration has begun to increase once again, with work generally the common reason.”
Overall, the number of migrants coming to the UK rose from 173,000 in 1980 to 526,000 in 2013 and has been more than half a million in every year except one since 2002, the figures show.
“The impact of migration can be felt across the UK economy and society in the composition of the population and labour force, and also through demand for public services and housing,” the ONS said.
The findings, released as part of an ONS series giving an overview of life in Britain over the past 30 years, will come as a blow to prime minister David Cameron.
His Conservative party had promised to reduce annual net migration to less than 100,000 in time for the 2015 general election but the latest figures show it was 228,000 at the end of June 2014.