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Revision as of 15:21, 8 May 2013 by Mousy mouse (talk | contribs) (Obtaining citizenship)
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    This article is a travel topic
Immigration is the relocation to another country. When one immigrates, they do not simply move to another address, as one might do in their home country. The process is far more complex. One must also adapt to a new culture, lifestyle, and living environment that is found in the land where they settle. Such an adjustment is not easy, even if the new land has superiorities to one's home country. Many immigrants leave behind family and friends where they came from. Regardless of the circumstances, life is hard for the immigrant, especially in the beginning.

The process of immigration varies depending on the laws of the country one is emigrating (departing) from and those of the country where one is settling. Each country has its own set of laws for those who plan to settle in their land, and may treat others differently, depending on where they came from. There is a lot of research that is necessary before one goes ahead and makes the move.

Reasons for immigration

Before we discuss the details of immigration, we must understand why people immigrate. There are a variety of reasons. These include:

  • Seeking a better life in a land where it is viewed there is more opportunity
  • Obtaining a job or career or conducting business in the new land
  • Obtaining an education in the land
  • Marriage to a citizen or resident of the new country
  • Uniting with a family member who already lives on the new land
  • Personal love for or enjoyment of the land
  • Seeking asylum if oppressed by one's home country


Every country has its own individual process regarding how one immigrates to the country. In some countries, you may first travel there as a visitor, and then complete the required steps to immigrate. In other countries, you must first complete some steps before you reach the country's soil. 


In virtually every country, one must meet a set of qualifications before they can immigrate. These vary by country, and it is important to know what they are before making the move, or else you can be turned away or worse.


Many countries have quotas on the number of immigrants, and will not allow those quotas to be exceeded. When there are more people desiring to immigrate than the quota, countries have various criteria to determine who qualifies.


In many countries, in order to qualify to immigrate or obtain citizenship, you require special skills that are needed in the country.

At the same time, certain degrees obtained in one country may be meaningless in another.

Family members

Many countries will allow immigrants who have certain blood relatives who are already present. In each country, it depends which relatives qualify.


Some countries admit members of certain religions. For example, Israel has a "law of return," allowing Jewish people to settle and obtain citizenship.

Disqualifying factors

In many countries, there are factors that could disqualify one from gaining citizenship, permanent residence, or even just taking food into the country. These include:

  • Carrying a communicable disease
  • Having a disability that would make you a public charge on the taxpayers of the country
  • Lack of any useful skills or a plan to make a living
  • Having a criminal record in one's home country, even for an extremely minor offense decades earlier
  • Participating in an act of war against the country
  • Previous problems while in the country
  • Belonging to an ethnic or religious group viewed as hostile by the country

Obtaining citizenship

In most countries, citizenship does not come overnight. It is a lengthy process that involves learning to speak the language fluently, studying the constitution, and proving one has a means of support.

Before deciding if you want to be a citizen, there are things to consider. Do you plan to live in this country the rest of your life? Can you accept the responsibilities this country expects out of its citizens? This may include obeying certain laws you may not be accustomed to, paying more taxes than you are used to, or serving in the armed forces, just to name a few. You may be required to renounce the citizenship of the country you came from, thereby making it very difficult if not impossible to resettle in or even travel back to your place of birth, where you may still have family members and other connections. Do you wish to do so?

Permanent resident

In many countries, there is a status called permanent residency that allows one to reside in the country on a long-term basis, often indefinitely, and may provide one with a pathway toward citizenship.

A permanent resident often enjoys many of the rights of a citizen, such as the right to be employed in the country, obtain certain legal documents, such as a driver's license, and open bank accounts. At the same time, a permanent resident may not have other rights citizens have, such as voting, holding office, or obtaining a passport.

Often to retain one's permanent residency status, one cannot be absent from the country for more than a certain length of time.

Following your arrival

There are various things you need to do following your arrival in a country. These include:

  • Finding a place to live
  • Finding employment
  • Learning the language of the land
  • Getting a driver's license and/or government ID card

Finding employment

Unless you are lucky enough to have someone supporting you, you will need employment. Most countries are reluctant to offer citizenship or permanent residency to those who will be a public charge on their taxpayers, and will only admit those who can support themselves. At the same time, many countries are reluctant to take immigrants whose skills reflect those of positions that are hard to find, since they take away possible employment from their own citizens. Many countries either want those who have a skill in a position that is hard to fill, are willing to do menial work that is hard to fill, or have plans to start a business that will offer employment to its own citizens.

If you are just settling in a country, you may be forced to accept a menial position at the country's minimum wage or even lower. You may be forced to work long hours, or possibly two jobs. If you try hard enough, you can make this time minimal, as you take steps toward a better life.

Others with advanced skills may have a position waiting for them. Some people immigrant just for a job they've been offered. If this is the case, one need not look for a job, though other members of their family may have to.

One whose plans are to start their own business may have to start from the bottom up. But the experience can be rewarding if the business is successful.

Illegal immigration

Illegal immigration is the unauthorized entry into a country, either temporarily or permanently. Each country has different ways it handles illegal immigration. In many countries, it is no secret that there is a large population of illegal aliens, and enforcement is laxed. Some countries are extremely tough on illegal immigration, either deporting and expelling such violators or imprisoning them in their own country. If so, immigrating illegally can be quite risky.

There are a lot of difficulties associated with illegal immigration. Since illegal aliens are not legally present, they have trouble getting official documents, including a driver's license or ID card or opening bank accounts. This limits one's employment opportunities to jobs that pay in cash or running one's own cash-based business. Additionally, one may not be able to rent an apartment from a complex and may be limited to renting a room likewise on a cash basis. Getting any type of health or medical care, even in a life-threatening emergency, can be nearly impossible for illegal aliens, because the health care systems of many countries fund only citizens and other legal residents.


There are various methods of illegal immigration, including:

  • Smuggling: Either sneaking across a land border away from a checkpoint, or on shore by boat
  • Overstaying your welcome: Entering legally with a visa allowing a limited amount of time in the country, then remaining in the country thereafter
  • Forged documents: Entering the country with the use of a fake identity, passport, or visa, giving the impression that the entry is legal

Generally, once in the country, the illegal immigrant blends in with the population. But there are various ways in which aliens may face scrutiny.

See also