Migration vs. Immigration: Understanding the Nuances

Migration vs. immigration are terms that often may be misused. In our article, we take a closer look at migration, emigration, and migration, why they occur and what are the consequences.

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Every country has its native inhabitants and foreigners living together. People all over the world move between various regions, switching cities, countries, or even parts of the world. Their reasoning differs: some want to start new life, others marry representative of another culture, while many individuals find a new job and are forced to relocate. But do you know all nuances of migration vs. immigration? Can you differentiate between these two concepts and are you aware of what they imply? You might often hear how someone looks for document translation services for immigration, but no one really needs assistance with emigration. Why is that? Let’s find out together.

Immigration and Everything It Entails

Immigration is an international process in which a resident of one country moves to another country with an intention to settle there permanently. This person cannot have status of citizen already, but since such a move is permanent, they are going to apply for one eventually. The concept of immigration appeared a long time ago, back in the 17th century, when people started crossing national borders in the search for a new place of dwelling. Currently, this trend is on the rise, and in the last 20 years, it increased by more than 42%. But why do people immigrate in the first place? There are different reasons for it, and according to latest research, the main ones include the following

  • Desire to escape poverty. Many immigrants come from third world countries where opportunities are limited. They hope to start a new life in a more developed and prosperous place where their work is going to be appreciated with a higher salary.
  • Marrying a foreigner. With the development of Internet, people from different regions have a chance to interact freely. Some fall in love and move in together, with one party immigrating into a country of their partner. But this reason is accompanied by some problems. For example, if a couple is already married and a husband from France plans to move to his wife, who is a US resident, they’ll have to translate marriage certificate to English and prove that their marriage is authentic. The authorities are often suspicious of immigrants who want to enter their country because of marriage, so some lengthy testing may take place.  
  • Finding a job that requires a permanent move. Professional reasons are a frequent motivator of immigration. Valued experts often enter long-term contracts that force them to immigrate with their families, starting a new chapter of life in another place.
  • Realizing a dream. Plenty of people simply love one country over others. They learn its language, study its culture and traditions, and then finally immigrate, excited, and passionate about such change.

For the most part, rich and developed countries become the center of immigration as the majority of immigrants come from poor regions. America is one such center. To enter it, people need to find certified translation services for USCIS, which stands for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an organization specializing in all matters related to American immigration. Without a doubt, it is a long and tedious process, but opportunities it brings are usually worth it.

Emigration: Definition, Meaning, and Reasons

You might wonder how to distinguish between immigration and emigration. For that, you need to understand all differences between these concepts. As you now know, immigration means moving to another country. Emigration denotes a process of a person leaving their native region in order to find permanent dwelling elsewhere.  It is related to an initial country of residence, so if you were born in Russia and decided to move to Canada, for your birth country, you’ll be an emigrant. Emigration can be confused with such concepts as forced displacement, resettlement, and refugees, which is a frequent mistake. Sure, all these concepts could be interrelated, but if you say that you intend to emigrate, it means that you decided to leave your country by yourself, without being pushed into this decision. The reasons for emigration are the same as those listed above — people are ready to start another life in a new country out of personal or professional motivations, so they leave the place of their origins.    

Migrant, Refugee, and Asylum Seeker: Concepts & Their Differences

Now that you’re aware of a difference between emigrate and immigrate, how about migration? What does it mean and what is its role in relation to the two concepts? Also, what does being a refugee or an asylum seeker entail? Don’t worry about being confused — all these definitions share a close connection as they are all focused on a permanent move from one country to another. But they have many unique nuances that help distinguish them.

  • Migrant. It is a person who changes countries for various reasons. The term itself is broad and non-specific, but it implies one’s willingness to move. If you decide to emigrate or immigrate, you can be called a migrant.
  • Refugee. As opposed to migrants, refugees don’t choose to switch between countries willingly. They are forced to do it because of war actions or other large-scale types of violence that threaten their safety. They are simply unable to keep staying in their homes, and they have no way to return there until the situation is improved and peace is restored.    
  • Asylum Seeker. Unlike a refugee, this is a person who flees from smaller-scale violence. Local gangs and their attempts at recruitment, personal persecution, high levels of general violence — a person might not be in immediate danger and their home might not be destroyed, but staying there is still not safe, which forces them to try finding protection elsewhere.     

So, out of these three groups, only migrants choose to relocate willingly. Both refugees and asylum seekers are pushed into it by the circumstances. At the same time, the former run from country-level conflict while the latter is threatened by less global yet still dangerous kinds of menace.

 Key Difference between Migration and Immigration

If you’d like to know more details that distinguish migration from immigration, here they are. Immigration falls under the concept of migration, but migration isn’t limited to immigration. “Immigrate” means entering foreign country with a goal to stay there for good. Migration, in turn, covers both immigration and emigration. Another key difference is, immigration is permanent while migration doesn’t have to be. People who travel and stay in a country for a few months — for instance, because of a seasonal job they have — are also called migrants. So, migration is a broad term while immigration is a more specific and narrow one. The former doesn’t provide you with any concrete details while the latter discloses that someone is moving to live in a new country.

Effects of Emigration for a Person & Countries

Decisions to emigrate vs. immigrate are closely linked to each other. When a person leaves their country and moves someplace else, it affects both original and recipient countries at once. These effects can be positive and negative, depending on a range of factors. Here are some of them.

  • Employment rate. When person exits country they were born in, they automatically reduce supply of available employees in a local market. On the one hand, it can be a positive thing. Employment rates pose constant problems as there are often more people looking for a job than a number of jobs available to them. This way, emigrants allow other citizens to enjoy more options and find employment they might have otherwise failed to get. On the other hand, labor market might be in a serious need of more working people, so by leaving the country, the emigrant rids it of vital resources, worsening its situation even further. There is also a fact that many highly intelligent people are recruited by representatives of more developed nations. By moving, they take their ideas, insights, and potential away from their homes and help other countries flourish instead.    
  • Wages. Emigration affects a system of wages, too, though in most cases, it happens in positive or neutral ways. When a person leaves, other people get a chance to become more sought out by employers. In turn, because of a decreasing supply of labor force, wages begin to rise, increasing people’s income along with the value of education, which affects people’s determination to develop their skills. If labor market is oversaturated, then wages stay the same regardless of the cases of emigrations. The situation between emigrant vs. immigrant is drastically different for the accepting country since here, immigration has a largely negative effect on the level of wages. Due to an increasing pool of available employees, the local residents’ wages fall.
  • Taxes. An emigrant stops paying taxes to their country, which limits support and resources it receives. Sure, such a person also loses chance to use local medical, retirement, or other services, but in the majority of cases, people pay more taxes than they use advantages coming from them, so the country’s budget suffers.
  • Population level. For a country with high level of population, emigrants are a blessing since they relieve pressure on resources. But if population rates are low, it hits the country in a more destructive manner.

Emigration in the US: Rates & Implications

Most people dream about immigration to the US, but then there are those who want to leave it. You already know emigrants' definition, so let’s explore situation in America. As one of the surveys showed, 40% of women under 30 expressed a desire to leave the US, but of course, an actual rate is much smaller. In fact, this country has one of the lowest emigration rates, with only a little more than 3 million native-born Americans now living elsewhere. It equaled 1% of population in 2015. That is why the US doesn’t keep track of its emigration trends — there is simply no reason for it as it’s minor.

Immigration vs. Emigration: Can Both Apply at the Same Time?

Yes, one person can be an emigrant and an immigrant simultaneously.  Actually, this is usually the only possible state of things because to move to another country, you have to leave yours at first. So a person leaving Lithuania for Great Britain is an emigrant for the former and an immigrant for the latter. A range of steps you’ll have to undertake in this process underlines interconnection between immigration and emigration definition. For instance, for moving to the US or Canada, you’ll need to obtain police clearance certificate translation to prove that you have clean records in your original country. If you were married at some point and plan on immigrating now, you might also require divorce certificate translation services. There are lots of requirements, so you should clarify them in advance to avoid annoying delays.

What Is the Difference between Immigration and Emigration in Terms of Usage?

You might understand these concepts themselves, but how to remember when to use them? They sound very similar, and lots of people struggle with recalling difference as time goes by and the memories start to blur. If English is your language, you could find the following tip useful: focus on letters with which both words start.

  • “Immigration” begins with “i”, which can be easily associated with the word “in”. Remember it, and upon hearing that someone immigrates, you’ll instantly recall how movement happens in a country.  
  • “Emigration” stars with “e”, and you can associate it with the word “exit”. Similarly, when you hear about someone emigrating, you will understand how they exit the country they used to live in.

The word “migration” resembles both immigration and emigration since it lacks a unique prefix, so it’s easy to keep in mind that it covers them both.