Net migration to Britain rose to 333,000 last year, according to the final set of official data to be released before Britons vote in an EU referendum in which the number of new arrivals from Europe has driven much opposition to the bloc.
The total is near a record high of 336,000 reached in the year to June 2015.
In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to reduce the annual level to below 100,000 but has failed to keep his pledge, partly due to the number of EU citizens moving to Britain.
Net migration from the bloc was estimated to be 184,000 in the year to December, up from 174,000 in 2014, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Thursday.
In February, Cameron negotiated a deal with European partners to curb some welfare payments to new EU migrants which he says addresses public concerns about the level of immigration.
But critics say it will do nothing to reduce the number of people coming to Britain attracted by higher wages than in their home countries, the presence of large communities of migrants, the English language and other factors.