Know Your Diaspora: The United Kingdom

Young Filipino participants in the World Day of Prayer for Migrants held at the Westminster Church in England (Source: © Mazur/

Young Filipino participants in the World Day of Prayer for Migrants held at the Westminster Church in England (Source: © Mazur/

The number of Filipinos living and working in the United Kingdom has increased by more than 833 percent from roughly 18,000 in 1986 to about 250,000 in 2011. Of this number, about 70 percent are in the Greater London area.

Filipinos work in a variety of sectors, ranging from IT, aviation, education, hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants and casinos) and healthcare, as chefs and house managers.

Increasingly, Filipino engineers and information technology experts have been recruited to the UK in significant numbers. Over the past five years, about a hundred of these engineers have been working in the aeronautical and avionics companies in the servicing and maintenance departments while others have been working for railway companies.

Since 2001, several dozen IT experts have been working with British telecommunication companies such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Orange in software development, as well as with computer companies working on e-commerce solutions.

Perhaps the Filipino community is best known for the contribution it makes to the healthcare sector. Filipino nurses are consistently recognized for their high standards of professionalism. In the past six years, more than 20,000 Filipinos were recruited into the health service, most of whom are nurse serving in the National Health Service while the remainder works in the independent healthcare sector–mostly private nursing homes.

Filipino nurses were brought into England's National Health Service to alleviate staff shortages. (Source:

Filipino nurses were brought into England's National Health Service to alleviate staff shortages. (Source:

A survey conducted among a limited sample of Filipinos (British-Filipinos) yielded some interesting findings:

• 65 percent of Filipinos are nurses and/or in the allied medical fields 

• Less than 10 percent are in domestic service 

• A growing number of entrepreneurs of about 5 percent 

• 10-20 percent are second-generation youths, many of whom are finishing university courses.

To date, there are about 100 Filipino community associations/charities in the UK that are registered with the Philippine Embassy. There are four widely circulated community newspapers: Filipino International, Philippine Express International, Filipino Observer and Planet Philippines. A more recent addition is Euro Filipino Journal.

Tighter Regulations

The numbers of OFWs and students going to the UK has fallen sharply since tighter regulations were introduced in the last couple of years on Tier 2 working visas and Tier 4 students visas. Filipinos are still immigrating to Britain, for instance as domestic workers or through family dependent visas and marriage visas.

The UK government has recently introduced new regulations to restrict immigration appeals against refusals of family visit visa refusals, as well as clamping down on lower paid Britons marrying foreigners.

The Home Office has announced that from July 9, 2012 anyone wishing to marry a foreigner (non-EEA European Economic Area nationality) and live in the UK must earn £18,600 a year. Foreigners marrying a Filipino may be surprised to learn that their Asian bride or husband must comply with new requirements or they will be prevented from leaving the country.

Perhaps the Filipino community is best known for the contribution it makes to the healthcare sector.

 General Information

The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It has a population of 60,209,500. Minority ethnic groups make up 7.9 percent of the population. Religions (2001): Christian (72 percent), Muslim (3 percent), Hindu (1 percent), Sikh (0.6 percent), Jewish (0.5 percent) Buddhist (0.3 percent), Other (0.3 percent), No religion / not stated (23 percent).

The UK became a country of immigration after the Second World War, following large-scale immigration from its former colonies. Labor shortages generated by Britain’s relative postwar affluence were filled by colonial workers who took advantage of privileged immigration channels created by the country’s citizenship laws. Until the mid-1960s, immigration was a market-driven phenomenon sanctioned by an imperial citizenship regime. Immigration patterns were largely stable from the early 1970s until the 1990s, with immigration disproportionately made up of family reunification.

Peak periods of immigration in the postwar period have reliably occasioned public hostility, press hysteria, and party politicization of the issue, with polls continuing to place immigration at the top of Britons’ concerns. Migrants are viewed as a problem for reasons being cited already for decades by opponents of immigration: immigrants are competitors for scarce jobs, housing, and social services, and they threaten to alter communities’ character against the will of their inhabitants.

To these familiar complaints, critics of immigration have added two fresh concerns: first, that immigration undermines social solidarity and thus the welfare state; and, second, that older generations of immigrants and, above all, their children are failing to identify sufficiently with Britain and British values. 

Ambassador Enrique Manalo (sixth from left) with the Filipino Community in York and embassy staff (Source:

Ambassador Enrique Manalo (sixth from left) with the Filipino Community in York and embassy staff (Source:

At the same time, the United Kingdom has Europe’s most elaborate legislative and policy framework combating racial discrimination; moreover, the government, public bodies, and the media take formal and informal measures to ensure visible representation of minorities.

Today, the United Kingdom is receiving more immigrants than at any point in its history. These new arrivals come at a time when the UK has not fully coped with the challenges thrown up by earlier waves in postwar migration.

It is estimated that 0.5-1 percent of economic growth in the UK is contributed by migrants, though critics of immigration dispute these figures. The medical and health sector is particularly dependent on immigrants, with 31 percent of the doctors and 13 percent of the nurses working in the UK born abroad. Other sectors of immigrant concentration for which statistics are available are education (13 percent of teaching staff), hospitality (70 percent of catering jobs), and agriculture (70,000 migrant workers help in harvesting according to National Farmers Union).

Redacted from the following sources:

Immigration Matters
Presidential Communication Office
Focus Immigration


Philippine Embassy, London

Address: 6-8 Suffolk Street London SW1Y 4HG (get directions)
Telephone: (44) 20 7451 1780

 Fax: (44) 20 7930 9787

 Emergency mobile in case of death/detention of national: (44) 78 0279 0695


Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s:

Ambassador Enrique Manalo is one of the most experienced diplomats of the Philippine foreign service career corps.

He was foreign affairs undersecretary for policy from 2007 to 2010.

Before London, he was the Philippine Ambassador to Belgium. His foreign policy experience, especially on ASEAN and UN matters, is very extensive, having been assigned to Geneva, New York and Washington DC.

He was a former Chairman of the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). He was also the Philippine senior official to the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, which was held while the Philippines was chairman of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

He graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in economics. He is accompanied by his wife, Pamela. They have two sons.