The number of Indians illegally entering the United Kingdom by crossing the English Channel on small boats increased sharply to 1,192 in 2023, data released by the British government on Thursday said. This marked a rise of 59.3% from 2022, when 748 Indians arrived in the country on small boats.

The figures were part of the United Kingdom’s “Irregular Migration to the UK” statistics for 2023.

As many as 67 Indians had crossed over in 2021, and 64 in 2020. The UK said that no Indians had crossed over into Britain in 2018 and 2019.

A majority of the Indians who entered the UK on small boats in 2023 were men between the ages of 18 and 39.

The British government said that Indians made up the ninth-largest nationality among undocumented migrants to arrive in the country using small boats in 2023. The highest numbers were Afghan nationals, with 5,545 crossing the English Channel.

Most of the Indians who had arrived on small boats had applied for asylum with the British government and were awaiting a decision. The asylum claims of 57 Indians who had arrived between January and March this year were rejected.

The British government in November tabled a draft law that sought to add India to its “safe states” list, which would make asylum claims of Indians arriving in the United Kingdom without documents inadmissible, The Times of India reported.

The British home office had then said that the number of Indians arriving in the country without documents on small boats had increased over the past year “despite individuals not being at obvious risk of persecution”.