Exploited and, in some cases, ignored and living a life on the sidelines, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the condition of migrants. With the brakes being effectively put on the world economy, many migrants found themselves without a job and facing unprecedented hardships had to return to their home countries.
The migrants were an easy target by the politicians and the media, who spent an inordinate amount of time debating migration. The rhetoric used is often populist and xenophobic. What is ignored amidst all the noise is that a mere 3.4% of the world’s population has left their native countries with migration in mind.
With the pandemic now on the wane, their demand has gone up again. As is the current scenario, there are three main reasons immigrants are encouraged. Low population, low birth rate and an ageing population. These days you can consider the pandemic as an additional factor.
The migrants are being wooed back by the countries they had to leave at present. Many countries are in the fray, soliciting migrants to their shores with multiple pathways to legally work in their countries and, in some cases, promising eventual citizenship as well.
These countries are an attractive proposition for those seeking to migrate as these destinations offer a high standard of living, affordable education and multiple pathways to their shores.
The United States has always been a steady favourite for both students and techies and has gradually observed its neighbour to the north, Canada, snap up a fair share of students and immigrants who would have otherwise made a beeline for the United States.
This situation has arisen predominantly because it has become more challenging to migrate to the United States over time, and the wait for permanent residency has only increased over time. That said, migrating to the United States is still a popular option for many.
With a booming job market, multiple pathways into the country and eventual citizenship on the cards, Canada has been enticing migrants with a fair amount of ease. And these policies are something the US would do well to emulate if it wishes to bridge the deficit of workers amid its declining population.
In 2021, nearly 100,000 Indians were awarded permanent residency in Canada. In that year, a record 400,000 immigrants were admitted into the country.
One of the most accessible immigration routes for students looking to migrate to Canada is via the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program. Canada boasts of one of the most accessible immigration routes for those looking to relocate to the North American country.
Canadian Immigration policy has recently been tweaked, providing recently graduated international students an opportunity to extend their stay via a temporary expiring status. This is so that they continue to gain work experience and have a concrete chance towards qualifying for permanent residency.
As the world is slowly emerging from the pandemic haze, countries worldwide are looking at immigration as an option and inviting immigrants to take up jobs and even contribute to their economy.
In the emerging post-pandemic world, traditional magnets for migrants, the US and Canada, face a challenge from countries like the UK, Australia, and UAE in their pursuit of migrants.
More lucrative work opportunities and, eventually, easier citizenship passage make more people opt for these countries.
Re-emergence Of Australia And The UK Among Potential Migrants
The UK is expected to launch a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa towards the end of May 2022. The visa is available to recent highly skilled graduates of certain foreign universities, and it will allow them to work and stay in the UK for up to three years, depending on their degree pursued.
Applicants under this visa category won’t require a job offer or sponsorship. Holders of this visa are eligible to work as self-employed professionals.
Australia, too, offers a work visa in a similar vein for graduating students. Undergraduates pursuing an education in cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Melbourne can work for two years after completing their education. Masters and Doctorate students can work for up to 3 and 4 years, respectively.
The Middle East In Focus As A Destination for Migrants
The middle-east is squarely in focus as a destination of choice for migrants. The UAE, in particular, has made it easy for skilled professionals and investors to obtain a 10-year residency visa and also a 5-year visa option for exceptional students.
Dubai is home to many American and British universities. Students can pursue their education at a fraction of the cost compared to studying at the UK or US campuses. Off-shore campuses are popular with those who would ordinarily be unable to afford higher education overseas due to the cost factor involved.
Asia And Europe
Japan has been privy to a downward trend with regard to the population. It has been decreasing every year due to a rapidly ageing population and constantly falling birth rates. Both these factors contribute to a shrinking labour force and negative economic growth.
Immigration has long been a taboo subject in Japan as many citizens prize ethnic homogeneity. But pressure has been mounting in Japan to open its doors to more foreign workers due to an acute labour shortage because of a combination of its dwindling and ageing population.
Potential immigrants can apply to work in Japan under the Specific Skilled Worker visa, which solicits foreign workers in certain sectors of the Japanese economy. Some of these would be the aviation and construction industries, agriculture, fishery, and foodservice industries.
Countries like Italy and Germany in Europe have also been afflicted by the syndrome called population decline and are adversely affected by a shortage of people to replace those leaving the workforce. This is a common thread as several other developed countries have similar stories to tell, which exposes their economies to the risk of underperformance. The desire to avoid this situation sees them pinning their hopes on immigrants.
The new government in Germany plans to attract 400,00 qualified overseas workers each year to help tackle a demographic imbalance and labour shortages in critical sectors. These labour shortages, if left unchecked, risk undermining any nascent and fragile recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Italy has similar plans on the anvil and is working in favour of immigration policies free of bureaucratic hurdles that would be detrimental to attracting skilled migrants to take up vacant job positions across its economy.
The Skilled Workers Immigration Act is Germany’s new immigration law and attempts to entice migrants to its shores. It came into effect earlier in 2022. It’s part of the German government’s plan to boost the arrival of skilled workers from within the EU and help unemployed people in Germany gain qualifications to qualify for much-needed job roles. The government hopes non-EU workers will help fill the shortfall.
Due to the low population and shortage of skilled workers in many countries, the situation is ripe for Indians looking to migrate for better lives. Many countries have overhauled their immigration policies along with streamlining their application process to attract the right talent.
Alongside standard immigration policies to attract skilled migrants, these countries also offer various other options for residency for business professionals, such as startup and self-employed visas. Immigrants can also take advantage of investment and entrepreneur visas.
The developed world needs migrants to address labour shortages and dwindling/ageing populations. The presence of migrants will plug these gaps and enrich their host nations with the culture they bring with them.
As it stands, Indians primarily migrate to Canada, the US and the UK. With other destinations such as Germany and even countries in Northern Europe actively wooing migrants, Indian, comprising a relatively young and knowledgeable workforce, are in a prime position to take advantage of the need for migrants.
With their ability to assimilate within societies with ease, a fact stamped with the extensive Indian diaspore present around the globe, the world is their oyster.