Published on People Move

Tomorrow I Will Be A Migrant

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For the US authorities I will still be “a legal alien”, but according to the UN definition I am going to be a migrant from tomorrow on.  More precisely: I will be a long-term international migrant since I have been residing for more than twelve months in a country other than the country of usual residence.  Today, I am still a short-term international migrant (three to twelve months in another country than the one of usual residence). 

I am wondering whether the statistic offices immediately realize that there is another migrant living on this planet.  I may be the 46,199,912th migrant living in the US or one of estimated 234 million migrants living worldwide (or 3.2 per cent of the world population).   And I will also be part of the majority of international migrants (59 per cent) who lives in a developed country.

At the same time as I am going to be a migrant tomorrow, my status will change from “’non-resident” to “resident” according to the Balance of Payment definition by the IMF.   The funds I will send to a person abroad will be recorded as a “personal transfers” which are – together with the worker’s compensations - part of the remittances.  By the definition of the US authorities, however, I will be a “resident alien” only after two years having lived in the US. 

My daily live does not change whether I am defined as a legal alien/migrant, resident or non-resident, short-term or long-term, but it would be helpful if the terminology in the area of migration terminology would be more homogenous all over the world.


Hanspeter Wyss

Senior Program Officer, DECIG/KNOMAD, World Bank

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