Albanians accounted for just over a third of people detected crossing the English Channel in small boats in the first nine months of the year, new figures have shown.
They also made up nearly half of those detected in July to September.
It is a sharp increase on previous years, with only 3% of arrivals in 2021 being of Albanian nationality, and just 1% in 2020.
The figures, which have been published by the Home Office, show there were 33,029 small boat arrivals in the UK from January to September this year.
Of this total, 11,241 (35%) were Albanian nationals.
Almost all of these have arrived since May.
A greater mix of nationalities have been detected making the crossing in recent years, the Home Office said.
Iranians accounted for the majority of arrivals in both 2018 (80%) and 2019 (66%).
But since 2020 arrivals from countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea have become more common while the number of Albanians has “increased substantially” this year.
The new figures also show that of the 35,345 small boat arrivals between October 1 2021 and August 31 2022, 31,891 have claimed asylum in the UK – of which only 139 (2%) have received an initial decision.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The growing backlog means that people in the asylum system are stuck in limbo for long periods.
“There is evidence that these waiting times hurt the long-term integration prospects of those who receive refugee status.
“Meanwhile, people with pending asylum claims cannot work and so need to be provided with accommodation so they are not made homeless.
“The result is that the backlog also puts pressure on the availability of accommodation and pushes up the cost of the asylum system.”
The official figure of 33,029 small boat crossings from January to September, together with separate figures showing 9,125 crossings since October 1, means the provisional total for the year to date currently stands at 42,154.
This compares with 28,526 crossings for the whole of 2021.