While China continued to retain its top slot (which it has occupied for over a decade) as the largest source country of new immigrants, India replaced Romania to emerge as the second largest source country.
During 2018, about 4.30 lakh Chinese migrated to Oecd countries, accounting for nearly 6.5% of the total migration inflows. However, there was a slight decline of 1% as compared to the previous year.
On the other hand, immigration from India to Oecd countries increased sharply by 10% and reached 3.30 lakh people. Migration from India represents about 5% of the overall migration to Oecd countries. While Canada saw a huge spike in numbers, other Oecd countries such as Germany and Italy also saw more arrivals as compared to the previous year.
Collation of country-wise data shows that the ‘total’ inflow of new migrants to Oecd countries was 66 lakh (or 6.6 million) – a slight rise of 3.8% over the previous year. Data on migration flows by nationality may include temporary migration for some destination countries, clarifies Oecd.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (Oecd) is an association of 37 member countries, such as European countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. As these are well developed economies, they attract a large share of immigrants – be it for work, studies or even asylum.
Before the pandemic, permanent migration flows to the Oecd countries (bar Colombia and Turkey that have hosted a large number of humanitarian migrants in recent years) was 53 lakh (or 5.3 million) in 2019, with similar figures for 2017 and 2018. Permanent migration flows do not include temporary labour migration or international students.
While releasing the ‘International Migration Outlook – 2020’, at a virtual press conference today, Angel Gurría , Secretary-General at Oecd stated that Covid-19 pandemic has redrawn the international migration map.
Following the onset of the pandemic, almost all Oecd countries restricted admission to foreigners. As a result, issuances of new visas in Oecd countries plummeted by 46% in the first half of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. This is the largest drop ever recorded. In the second quarter, the decline was 72%. Overall, 2020 is expected to be a historical low for international migration in the Oecd countries.
There are strong signs that mobility will not return to previous levels for some time. This is due to weaker labour demand, persistent severe travel restrictions as well as the widespread use of teleworking among high-skilled workers and remote learning by students,” he added.
However, the Secretary General stressed that migration would continue to play an important role for economic growth and innovation, as well as in responding to rapidly changing labour markets.
Migrant workers have been on the frontline of the crisis, states Oecd’s release. They account for a large share of the Oecd medical workforce, with one in four medical doctors and one in six nurses being immigrants. In several Oecd countries, more than a third of the workforce in other key sectors, such as transport, cleaning, food manufacturing and IT services, are immigrants. Yet immigrants are facing a hard time in the labour market. Much of the past decade’s progress in employment rates among immigrants has been wiped out by the pandemic. In all countries for which data are available, immigrants’ unemployment increased more, compared to their native-born peers, states Oecd.
Citizenship in Oecd countries
The report states that the overall trend in acquisition of citizenship of Oecd countries has been very stable since the mid-2000s – with the annual global figure fluctuating around 20 lakh in the past few years.
During 2018, 19.5 lakh people acquired citizenship of an Oecd country – a rise of 3% as compared to the previous year. Of this, 42% (or 8.10 lakh) became citizens of EU member countries and 39% (or 7.60 lakh) acquired US citizenship. There has been a spike in the numbers of those acquiring Canadian citizenship (those from India, Iran, Philippines and Pakistan led the pack) which went up by 67% to reach 1.80 lakh.
In 2018, nearly 1.36 lakh Mexican acquired US citizenship, with the country retaining the top slot as the country of origin. This was followed by India with 1.20 lakh Indians becoming citizens of Oecd countries – 52,194 Indians acquired US citizenship, followed by 19.487 acquiring Canadian citizenship.
While statistics relating to US citizenship shows a marginal rise of 2.7% over that of 2017, the number of Indians acquiring Canadian citizenship showed a sharp rise of nearly 95% over the previous year. In 2018, both Australia and UK also reflected a significant number of Indians as new citizens, with the figures standing at 17, 716 and 15,105 respectively, but these show a decline over the previous year by nearly 27% and 9.5% respectively.