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  1. Trans-national Migration International College KhonKaen University 2012 Week 8 – Migration Processes: Legal Channels

  2. Migration Processes – Legal Channels • Legal migration requires full compliance with all the laws and regulations of both the country of origin and the receiving country • If these laws and regulations are too difficult to comply with, or too expensive, migrants wanting to move will resort to irregular (illegal) migration • So governments which want to manage migration successfully need to make legal migration viable, and affordable

  3. Migration Processes – Legal Channels • Most of the migrants to countries which can effectively control their borders (island states like Singapore) will be legal migrants • Countries with long land borders and which have unstable or poor countries as neighbors will generally have a higher percentage of irregular migrants • Countries of origin manage legal emigration using passports • Receiving countries manage legal immigration primarily through the use of visas

  4. Legal Migration: Countries of Origin • Nowadays, most countries issue passports freely and allow their nationals to depart without interference • The only general exception relates to criminals: • Suspects under investigation may have their passports seized • People who have been convicted of crimes but have not yet completed their probationary period

  5. Legal Migration: Countries of Origin • The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states (in Article 13) that” “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country” • Some advocates of migrant rights assert that this right extends to residence and work in any country, not just to travel • But in practice, any country can restrict overseas travel by their nationals by refusing to issue passports. Many do

  6. Legal Migration: Countries of Origin • China, Russia, Myanmar and other authoritarian governments are often criticized for not issuing passports to dissidents • In addition, a small number of countries still maintain travel (exit) restrictions on their nationals by requiring exit visas: • North Korea (only officials, athletes and special delegations can travel overseas) • Cuba

  7. Legal Migration: Countries of Origin • A larger group of countries require exit visas (or equivalent) for some categories of foreigners, most often to ensure that all tax obligations have been met: • Saudi Arabia and Qatar: all foreigners • Vietnam, China, and many Middle Eastern countries – all long-stay foreigners who have worked or managed a business in their country • USA: foreign students need authorisation from their school/university

  8. Legal Migration: Receiving Countries • Receiving countries have a much larger array of laws and regulations to “manage” immigration: • Who comes into the country • How long a foreigner can stay in the country • What the foreigner can do while in the country • Rights and responsibilities of the foreigner • The main tool governments use to specify what is legal for each migrant is the visa, sometimes in association with a permit (such as a work permit)

  9. Legal Migration: Visa • Visa definition: A passport stamp or document that authorizes the passport-holder to enter a country for a specific purpose for a specified period of time • Different countries have different kinds of visas, each serving a specified purpose, Some of the most common are : • Visitor visa • Business visa • Temporary entry visa • Work visa • Permanent entry visa

  10. Legal Migration: Visa • The need for a visa can be waived by a receiving country for short-term visitors from specified countries • For example the 10 ASEAN countries do not require visas for short-term tourism visitors from other ASEAN countries (except Myanmar) • But very few countries waive visas for people wanting to work or planning to migrate

  11. Legal Migration: Visa • A person who enters on a short term visitor’s visa and then works, or stays longer than the period specified in his visa, immediately ceases to be a legal migrant • Visas allowing a stay of more then three months, or allowing the passport-holder to work, are the means by which receiving countries manage legal migration

  12. Legal Migration: Visas for Migrants • Different countries all have different requirements before such visas are issued • These requirements can relate to: • Family connections • Work skills and experience • Educational qualifications • Money to invest • Position when on transfer by an MNC • Good character (no criminal convictions) • Language skills • Humanitarian considerations

  13. Legal Migration: Visas for Migrants • In the USA, immigration law provides for three main immigrant categories: • Family reunification (66% of the migrants granted permanent residence in 2010) • Employment sponsorship (14% in 2010) • Humanitarian cases – refugees and successful asylum applicants (13% in 2010) • 1.1 million legal migrants were granted permanent residence (Green Cards) in 2010 • This figure does not include non-immigrant admissions, such as students and H-1B workers

  14. Legal Migration: Visas for Migrants • Australian immigration law has a similar structure, with permanent entry visas granted to: • Skilled migrants, using a points-based system with points for education, work experience, selected skills, family connections, age, job offer, etc • Business migrants, for business owners, investors and senior executives • Family migrants • Refugees and successful asylum applicants

  15. Legal Migration: Permanent Residence • In most western countries there are two routes to permanent residence: • it can be granted at first entry based on family ties and/or potential contribution to the economy • it can be applied for after several years in the country on a temporary entry visa (work visa, student visa, spouse visa, etc) • But in most Asian (and other developing and middle-income countries) only the second route to permanent residence is available

  16. Legal Migration: Thailand • In Thailand, for example, permanent residence can only be granted to foreigners who have lived in Thailand for at least three years on one of the non-immigrant visa types which need to be renewed each year: • Non-Immigrant B visa, for foreigners in business or working • Non-Immigrant E visa, for foreign students • Non-Immigrant O visa, for others (retiring in Thailand or married to a Thai national) • Even then, only 100 people of each nationality can be granted a Permanent Residence Permit each year

  17. Legal Migration: Thailand • Thailand’s non-immigrant B visas are available only for professional or skilled workers • Unskilled and semi-skilled workers who choose the legal path need to have nationality verification documents from their home country and a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labour • There are only about 50,000 workers in Thailand who have been brought in legally

  18. Legal Migration: Thailand • In comparison, there are about 900,000 low-skilled workers with some documentation completed, and at least 1 million others who have no relevant documentation • Thailand signed bilateral agreements called Memoranda of Understanding with Lao PDR, Cambodia and Myanmar in 2002 and 2003 to try to manage the flow of legal migrant workers from these countries • These agreements required the countries of origin to certify the nationality of migrant workers as a first step in the process of regularizing the flow of migrant labour

  19. Legal Migration: The Final Step • The final step in the migration process is to be acknowledged as a citizen (or national) of the migrant’s new home country • This can bring additional rights (access to welfare benefits, the right to vote) and responsibilities (to assimilate, to work for the benefit of the new country) • Again there is a difference between the approaches of most Western countries and, for example, Asian countries

  20. Legal Migration: The Final Step • Western countries generally welcome long-term migrants as citizens • In most Western countries a migrant has to have stayed in the country for 4 to 5 years before he can apply for citizenship • In Thailand and in most Asian countries citizenship is very rarely approved for foreigners • Partly this is because “nationality” (which often translates as a synonym for ethnicity) is more cultural, and has little to do with “citizenship”