People born in India have overtaken the Irish to become the largest, permanently settled immigrant group in the UK, according to latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
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 rise in population since 1983, adding the equivalent of a city to Britain annually.
Migration to the UK has tripled over the past 30 years as hundreds of thousands of immigrants arrive to seek work and study.
The numbers have boosted the population born outside the UK from 3.2 million to more than 7 million.
In 1981, there were more people leaving Britain than arriving, today more people arrive than depart.
Net migration was minus 55,000 in 1980 but by 2013 it was 209,000.
In 28 of the past 34 years it has been a positive figure.
“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.
“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 most common reason.”
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 but one since 2002.
“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 number coming to study has risen from 31,000 in 1980 to 177,000 in 2013.
The figures are part of an ONS overview of life in the UK in the past 30 years.
They show population growth of 7.8 million since 1980 of which almost half has occurred since 2005.
In 2004 the British and Irish governments welcomed migrants from new member EU states like Poland.