There are over 44 million immigrants in the US.
We often hear people throwing around words such as immigrant, migrant, and refugee as though they all mean the same thing. But, do you actually know the difference between migrant and immigrant?
Every day, people take the life-changing decision to move to a new country in search of work, asylum, or simply a better way of life.
In this article, we’ll demystify the distinction between migration terms so you can sound knowledgeable next time you’re chatting to friends. Let’s get started:
Simply put, a migrant is someone who chooses to leave their home country for a short period of time. They are usually looking for an improved quality of life. Migrants are able to return to their home country when they choose to do so.
A migrant to the US can choose from over 20 different types of visas. They may want to work in industries such as education or travel, or they may be visiting in order to receive medical treatments.
A migrant will spend time learning about the country they’re moving to. This could include learning the language and looking for job opportunities.
You may occasionally hear refugees be referred to a migrants. But, this isn’t always the case.
An immigrant is someone who can work in their new country without any restrictions. They have legally moved and are entitled to work without restrictions.
You may have heard of the word ex-pat before. Maybe ex-pats are immigrants as they move willingly from their home country and start working and living in a new one.
But, the language around migration is often criticized with many suggesting that only white people are called ex-pats.
You may regularly hear people describe themselves with terms such as “second generation immigrant”. This refers to people who were born in the country but their parents moved from another one.
Meanwhile, a refugee is someone who is forced to leave their own country for a multitude of reasons.
When entering a country, they are considered an asylum seeker before being granted or refused refugee status.
After one year as a refugee in countries like the US, if conditions in their home country have not improved, they need to apply for a green card.
Recently, Cheng Muyang won the right to become a Canadian citizen after a legal battle that lasted for ten years. He was wanted in China on corruption charges and fled to Canada.
To put it simply, a migrant is someone who moves temporarily to a new country while an immigrant is someone who will settle and stay permanently.
The difference between migrant and immigrant is clear when you keep this very simple trick in mind.
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