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Immigration - The definition of immigration is the movement of people from one country/nation state to another. Immigration differs from historical human migration as an immigrant usually plans to stay in a country for the long term, perhaps even obtaining citizenship.

Therefore tourists/short term visitors are not considered immigrants.

Another significant type of immigration is seasonal labor immigration (this typically lasts less than a year).

According to the International Integration and Refugee Association, there were an estimated 190 million international migrants in 2005 - about 3 per cent of the global population.

Immigration in the modern sense relates to the nationality law and the development of nation states. Under citizenship laws, the members of a nation state have the right of residence whereas the rights of immigrants is controlled by immigration law.

Illegal immigration is prevalent across the world - whenever a person crosses the borders of a country in a way that violates the law of that country they become an illegal immigrant. An immigrant can also become illegal by overstaying a legal visa.

Global Immigration

According to European Union laws, citizens of any EU state are allowed free migration (with some restrictions on the 'New Member' states) to any other EU country.

The majority of the immigration is from the former eastern bloc countries (eg Poland) to the more developed countries (eg Great Britain, Spain, Italy). The majority of Polish immigrants have moved to Great Britain, while Romanians tend to choose Italy and Spain.

Unlike France and Germany, Britain and Ireland did not impose controls to curb Eastern European migration. The number of people who became British citizens rose 12 per cent in 2004 to a record 140,795 people.

Legal immigrants to the United States numbered approximately 1,000,000 per year after 2000, and 1.27 million immigrants were granted legal residence in 2006. The majority of immigrants to the US come from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines.

Since World War II, more refugees have emigrated to the US than any other country in the world.


Refugees can gain legal immigration status through the asylum process. Refugee status can be granted either by being designated a refugee while abroad or by actually entering the US and then attempting to seek refugee status.

Approximately 10 per cent of the total US immigrant population is comprised of refugees - over two million have arrived in the US since 1980.

President Bush has stated his intentions to resettle 90,000 refugees a year in the US.

US Immigration