This report looks in detail at the available datasets so that we can see the numbers re-migrating and get a clearer picture of who is going and why. We have also gathered new evidence through open surveys and through research in six case study countries, which involved extensive interviewing of people who have re-migrated from the UK.

In this report ippr sets out to quantify and analyse re-migration from the United Kingdom, and to understand what motivates immigrants to leave. The phenomenon of re-migration - in other words the emigration of immigrants - has not, on the whole, been well documented or understood. But policymakers should care about re-migration and know more about those leaving.

This is particularly necessary at a time when the processes for controlling and managing immigration are being tightened, with the aim of selecting immigrants on the basis of their skills. International competition for highly-skilled migrants is intensifying and it makes no sense for the UK to succeed in attracting such migrants only to lose them quickly because of re-migration.

Our report is based on a major international research project ippr undertook in 2008. It uses a wide range of original qualitative research undertaken in a number of countries and involves a comprehensive analysis of all the data relating to re-migration. In mapping an often hidden migration flow we hope it will help all levels of UK government to better manage migration to and from the UK, as well as contribute to international policy debates about onward migration, super-mobility and reintegration of returned migrants in their home countries.

Various case studies published with this report can be found here.