Immigrant, emigrant, and migrant are three words that refer to people who move their place of residence. The difference between the three notions is a matter of perspective.
An immigrant is someone who comes to live in a country from another foreigner. In this example we can appreciate its meaning:
Immigration and emigration occur when a person or group moves from one country to another. The term immigration is used to name the entry of people to a country of which they are not nationals, to stay to live it. On the other hand, emigration means the movement of people from one country to live in another.
The migration also involves movement through different places, including changing between regions. This movement can be both humans and other living beings.
Immigrating and emigrating are two visions of the same movement. For example, if you were born in Mexico and went to live in the United States, that means that you emigrated from Mexico and immigrated to the New York, United States.
What is immigration?
Immigration is used when a person enters a foreign country to live, leaving their country of origin. Immigration involves a permanent movement and applies only to people. For example: “My grandparents immigrated to the United States in the 1920s.”
Although there are specific laws for immigration and emigration, immigration is strictly controlled by the host nations.
What is emigration?
Emigration occurs when a person or group leaves their country to settle in another. Emigrating implies a permanent movement and only applies to people. For example: “My grandparents emigrated from Spain.”
Emigration is enshrined in the fundamental law of principle 2 of article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to leave the country in which they are, including their own, and the right to return to their country”.
Immigrate or migrate?
Immigrating generally refers to the act of crossing the national borders of different countries, to settle in the host country. In the case of migration, this act includes both movements between countries and between regions of the same country, not being necessary to travel to foreign lands.
For example: “Many people are migrating from the interior to the capital of their cities.” In this case, people are not moving to a foreign land, just migrating from one region to another.
Furthermore, migrations can be permanent or temporary, for example:
- Many people who lived on the outskirts of the city migrated to the capital in search of work (permanent movement).
- Many workers migrate south during the agricultural season (temporary relocation).
What is an Immigrant Visa?
An immigrant visa is a permit to enter the United States for an indefinite period.
People who want to move to the United States permanently seek this type of visa. An immigrant visa can be granted for family ties, permanent job offers, business investment, diversity programs, or asylum seekers.
What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa?
People who receive an immigrant visa are authorized by the government to stay in the United States for as long as they want.
For example Family reunification, permanent job, as an investor, through the diversity program (visa lottery).
People who receive a nonimmigrant visa are authorized by the United States to visit the country temporarily.
For example, Tourism, to seek medical attention, business, or study.
People who are in the United States on a non-immigrant visa are not allowed to work in the country, except on strict occasions. For example, when a student undergoes an internship, they are granted special employment authorization to work during that period.
What documents do I need to apply for an immigrant visa?
The documents you must present depend on the reason you are applying to be an immigrant. Among the most common documents are:
A passport, recent photographs, birth certificate, marriage, divorce or death certificate, and financial proof that you can support yourself financially.
You will also need to obtain and pass a medical exam. An immigration attorney can help you process all of this documentation.