By Claire West

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that net migration continues to fall, down by a third since its peak in 2010.

A Home Office release wrote today that 'figures show that our reforms are having the desired effect — tightening the immigration routes where abuse was rife, but still encouraging the brightest and best to come here to study and work'.

Immigration has fallen significantly, falling to 497,000 in 2012 from 566,000 in 2011. And immigration from outside the EU is now at its lowest level for 14 years.

At the same time, there has been a 4% increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for our world-class universities and a 7% increase in the number of sponsored visas applications for skilled workers.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:

Our immigration reforms continue to have an impact in all the right places. We are committed to bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

We are working across government to protect public services and ensure our welfare system is not open to abuse. The Immigration Bill, which will be introduced later this year, will make it easier to remove people who have no right to be in this country.