Throughout history, people have emigrated from one country to another for various reasons, including economic, social, and political factors. According to the World Migration Report 2022 by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which is equal to 3.6 per cent of the global population and 128 million more than in 1990 and over three times the estimated number in 1970.
One of the primary reasons people immigrate to other countries is economic opportunities. This is especially true for individuals living in developing countries where job opportunities and wages are limited. Immigrants may seek better-paying jobs, access to social services, and a higher standard of living. Political instability or persecution is also a significant driver of immigration.
People who face persecution in their home countries due to their race, religion, or political beliefs often seek asylum in other countries. They may also be forced to flee due to war or civil unrest.
“I believe that the two main drivers for growth in global migration are economic opportunities and political instability,” says Ryan, Head of Operations – Middle East at Aussizz Group. “With the increasing globalisation of the world’s economies, more individuals are seeking to improve their economic prospects by moving to countries that offer better job prospects, higher wages, and improved standards of living. Additionally, political instability in many countries around the world is leading individuals to seek refuge in safer countries,” he adds.
He points out that advancements in technology and communication have made it easier for individuals to research and identify countries that offer better opportunities for them and their families. As a result, global migration is likely to continue to grow as individuals seek to improve their economic prospects and find stability in countries that offer more opportunities for growth and advancement.
Syed Jafar, Founder and CEO of Cosmos Immigration, agrees that economic opportunities and permanent settlement are key drivers for migration.
“People often move to other countries in search of better job prospects and economic growth. For example, people may migrate to developed countries with strong economies in search of higher-paying jobs, better working conditions, and a better standard of living. This is especially true for individuals from developing countries, where job opportunities and economic growth may be limited,” he says.
Additionally, he points out that permanent residency options offer individuals the opportunity to settle down in a new country and build a new life having a sense of security and stability, and that obtaining a stronger passport can provide individuals with more opportunities to travel and work abroad which can help their future generations.
Another reason why people immigrate is to pursue education. Many students travel to other countries to attend universities or pursue advanced degrees. This is often because the educational system in their home country is inadequate, or they want to attend a prestigious institution in another country.
While agreeing that people often migrate in search of better economic opportunities such as better wages and career growth, Varun Singh, Managing Director of Xiphias Immigration says education and training opportunities are also equally important factors leading to migration. “Better education and training opportunities for themselves or their children is an important factor that individuals and families consider while migrating. This is often a part of people’s long-term plans and is a major driver of global migration,” he says.
Meanwhile, Clint Khan, Director at Y-Axis points out ‘demographic imbalances’ as an equally significant driver of immigration as economic opportunities. He believes these two factors often intersect and reinforce each other. “Demographic imbalances can also play a significant role as a driving force for migration. A shortage of labour in one country may coincide with a surplus in another, prompting people to move in search of work. Additionally, political instability, conflict, natural disasters, and climate change can contribute to demographic imbalances, causing people to flee their homes,” Khan explains.
John Hanafin, Founder and CEO of Huriya Private brings up tax optimisation as an additional driver for immigration. “I would say that the key drivers are clients seeking political and economic stability, mobility and access, and tax optimization,” he says. “Investors are drawn to the countries with the most stable political and economic systems. They also want the opportunity to access new markets and be able to leverage the best tax benefits to maximise return on investment,” he says.
However, economic immigration is often highly regulated, with visas and permits required to ensure that immigrants are legally authorised to work. In recent years, acquiring second citizenship has become more common. Many individuals seek a second citizenship for various reasons, including access to better economic opportunities, ease of travel, and tax benefits.
Second citizenship can also provide a safety net in case of political or economic instability in their home country. An increasing number of countries now offer citizenship by investment programmes that allow individuals to obtain citizenship by making a significant investment in the country.
“The demand for citizenship by investment (CIP) programmes is on the rise with more and more individuals seeking to obtain citizenship in countries other than their own through investments, “says Nicholas Iredale, Senior Business Development Manager of AAA Associates.
“This trend is being driven by a variety of factors, including globalisation, the need for increased travel freedom, more investment opportunities, wealth management and business choices. The CIP allows individuals to acquire second passport from countries like St. Lucia, and Dominica, which are among the most attractive destinations for entrepreneurs and investors,” he adds, pointing out that to make the investment for citizenship programme, investors can choose from options ranging from government bonds, real estate projects, business ventures, and donations to government funds.
Sohail Ahmad, Director at Ad Astra, attributes the growing demand for citizenship by investment programmes to increased awareness and socioeconomic and political instability in clients’ home countries. “The demand for citizenship by investment will continue to grow in the future because people more than ever need the freedom to travel and a plan B for securing themselves and their families.
Hence, countries like St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia are taking initiatives to attract more investors by providing accelerated approvals & reducing investments.” Ahmad points out that his consultancy offers various options for second citizenship, from CBI programmes like Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada to RBI Canada Startup, UK innovator Visa, Golden visa, etc.
While it is true that the immigrant will benefit from access to better job opportunities and improved living standards with second citizenship, immigration can have many positive impacts on the host country as well. It can lead to economic growth, innovation, and diversity. Immigrants can also contribute to the labour force, filling gaps in the job market and boosting economic growth.
Moreover, immigration can contribute to cultural enrichment as they bring their unique customs, traditions, and languages, adding to the cultural tapestry of the host country. Cultural diversity can lead to the creation of new art, music, and cuisine. It can also promote intercultural understanding and tolerance, making the host society more accepting and inclusive.
Immigration has been and will continue to be a critical component of society. It is heartening to see more countries recognising the positive contributions that immigrants make to society and striving to create a welcoming environment that celebrates diversity and promotes integration.