Difference Between Immigration And Emigration

Difference Between Immigration And Emigration

We live in a day and time when people are constantly in search of new and better opportunities. This has seen quite several people moving across oceans and borders. This, however, did not just start today as it has been in operation for centuries. The America we know today is a product of emigration and immigration. But what is the difference between immigration and emigration? In this piece, we will look at some expert views on what both terms stand for to establish the unique peculiarity of both terms and other related issues.

Difference between immigration and emigration

Both emigration and immigration involve the movement of people from one country to the other. Emigration simply means departing from one country permanently to stay in another country. Meanwhile, immigration means changing the location to a new country and getting settled there. A way to look at is that if a person moves from your country to reside in a different country, such a person would become an immigrant to you. Such a person would be seen as an immigrant to the people of the country. In summary, to immigrate means to enter a foreign country. What this means is that people who are entering the United States are seen as immigrants. Immigrants often make conscious and deliberate efforts to move to a different country to leverage the advantages therein.  Emigrating, on the other hand, refers to the process of residing in a different country. The major difference that exists between emigrants and immigrants is the perception. 

When Should You Use Immigrate

For a person to immigrate means to gain access to and settle into a foreign country after you must have left your country and usually implies a permanent move. The term immigrate is often used to talk about people who have moved to a new nation. On the other hand, migrate is a word that can be used to talk about moving from one part of a country to the other. The term immigrate is only used when talking about human beings.

When Should You Use Emigrate

For a person to emigrate means that he or she is leaving a country and going to another and is usually a permanent move. It, therefore, suffices to say that immigration is the act of gaining access to a foreign nation to live for a certain period or even permanently. Hence, emigrating is the act of leaving your country to another country permanently.

What Is The History Behind The Term Immigration?

The word immigration came into being in the 17th century referring to a non-warlike movement of people between two or more nation-states. When a group of people moves across national borders during migration, they are referred to as immigrants or migrants depending on the perspective of the country in which they enter.  For instance, as of 2015, there was a record of 244 million migrants worldwide and this meant an increase of 41 percent from the year 2000. The largest number of these migrants can be found in America has a record of 19%. Russia and Germany both have a migrant population of 12 million each. Saudi Arabia has 10 million migrants and the United Kingdom has 9 million while the United Arab Emirates has 8 million.

The time frame between 2000 and 2015 saw Asia adding the highest number of migrants than any other area in the world with 26 million people added. Europe came second with over 20 million people added to the population there. Also, data from 2015 showed that the total number of migrants that were below the age of 20 was 37 million with 177 million of them between the ages of 220 and 64.

What Is The Driving Force Behind Immigration?

One of the major theory that attempts to explain migration does so using the pull and push factors.

The push factors generally refer to the catalyst for the immigration of people from their country of birth. When dealing with economic migration there is the issue of difference in wages. What this means is that if the value of the wages in the intended country is more than what is obtainable in the new country, a person may choose to move. One typical instance of this was the American economic expansion of the 19th century which saw about 15% of the population coming from abroad.

The improvement in the means of transportation with technology saw a drop in the cost and time of traveling reduced before the 20th century. For instance, travel through the Atlantic used to take about 5 weeks during the 18th century.  However, by the 20th century, the time had reduced to just about a week. One major factor that pushes people to migrate is poverty in addition to natural disasters.

There are however some non-economic factors that influence immigration such as persecution, bullying, frequent abuse, ethnic cleansing, social marginalization, and genocide.  Some migrations occur because of personal reasons such as relationships, family reunions, and marriages.

What Are The Major Barriers To Migration?

The barriers faced by immigration do not only come in political and legal forms, but there are also social and natural barriers to immigration. When an immigrant leaves his or her country, they also tend to leave behind friends, family, and culture. More often than not, they also have to sell their assets and they will also spend money when moving. When such people arrive in a new country, they are soon faced with several challenges such as the availability of employment, where to stay, understanding the laws, and adapting to the new language. There are also issues of racism and other socio-cultural challenges.

What Is The Politics Behind Immigration?

The politics backing and surrounding immigration is one that has increasingly become more associated with terrorism and national security. Certain special interest groups push for fewer migrations for their people and more for others because of the perceived effects of immigration on their people. Studies have also shown that employers are more favorably disposed to immigrants than employees because of the perceived benefits.

Who Are Economic Migrants?

This refers to people who have traveled from one point to another in search of improved quality of life and employment. Such migrants are quite different from those seeking refuge from persecution. Several countries often have visa and immigration restrictions which prohibit a person who is entering a country from working in that country. Some countries even go as far as declining a person who is deemed as economic migrant access. The World Bank currently estimates a total of $420 billion in 2009 as remittances with a large portion of that amount going to developing countries.

What Are The Laws Governing Migrants

The treatment of migrant issues by the host countries both by the employers, governments and the original population is one issue that is a topical debate. Even though the freedom of movement is a fundamental right that is recognized by the United Nations, it only applies to the movement within one’s borders and the ability of such individuals to return to the home state of such people.

The people who propose immigration think that the freedom of movement which exists between and within countries is a fundamental right. Thus, such people think that restrictive immigration policies are a violation of this fundamental right of movement. In the US as of 2003, family reunification accounted for about two-thirds of the legal immigration to America each year.

Also, the immigration policies that selectively give freedom of movement to certain persons are needed to produce an economic profit in the host country. This can also mean a loss for the donor country as they lose their educated brains. Many developing countries often see a brain drain with many of their skilled population such as health practitioners going in search of greener pastures. But in the long run, migration is beneficial to both the sending and receiving countries.

What Are The Economic Effects Of Emigration And Immigration?

One thing that cannot be denied is the economic effects of migration on both the host and sending nations. There is a general belief that low-skilled immigrants help make America a better place for all. Some believe that migrants are struggling with them for available jobs and as such, they view them as a major cause of unemployment in the society. This view is often debated as false by people who believe that most of these migrants often go for the low paying jobs hitherto neglected by locals.


Immigration and emigration are terms that differ based on perspective. This means that the way we view both terms depends on where and who we are per time. There are challenges faced by migrants that drive them to move and also when they have moved. It is the understanding of the dynamics of migration that puts both the migrant and the host and sending community in a better position to profit from the situation.

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