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World map.  Countries are colored in green or red tones.  Green: More people are migrating into the country than leaving it.  Red: At least as many leave the country as migrate to the country.  The dark red Syria and Venezuela, from which many people emigrate, should be emphasized.
Annual net migration 2015-2020. United Nations Forecast, 2019.

Migrant (the Latin verb migrare means to emigrate, to wander, to travel ) is an imprecise term for a person who changes the center of his life.


German emigrants on the passenger deck of the Samuel Hop , April 1849

From the perspective of their home country are migrants emigrants ( emigrants ), from the perspective of the host country immigrants ( immigrants ). The term "people with a migration background " summarizes migrants and their descendants regardless of their actual citizenship .

However, the term migrants or migrant families is often used in the German-language media to designate families who have immigrated permanently.

Migrant worker

Within the European Union, labor migration is facilitated by the free movement regulation .


Under international law, those migrants are considered refugees whose status is regulated by the Geneva Refugee Convention. According to this political agreement, refugees defined in this way have certain rights that migrants as a whole are not granted, for example the right to asylum . According to the Geneva Convention, the term refugee only includes people who are persecuted in their country of origin on the basis of religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group ( ethnic group ) or political convictions and therefore had to leave their country.

The refugee status according to the Geneva Refugee Convention must be differentiated from everyday and politically induced attributions such as climate or environmental refugees or misery refugees, whereby the recognition of these two groups as refugees has been under international law at least since the beginning of the 21st century. In public discourse, these ascriptions often have negative connotations.

In 2006 it was estimated that there were 175 million immigrants worldwide (see below). These included 8.4 million refugees. According to a UNHCR report, an estimated 69,000 migrants and refugees reached the European coasts in 2011, with over 1,500 migrants who died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean.

The German legal system differentiates between the recognition of the right to asylum ( Article 16a of the  Basic Law ), the granting of refugee status and the granting of subsidiary protection .

Those who are neither recognized as refugees nor receive asylum can receive temporary subsidiary protection in Germany .

Consequences of Migration

Immigration and emigration can have political and economic effects. While the country of origin often suffers from the emigration of qualified young people in the case of emigrants, the frequently required language skills and social integration (in some cases associated with assimilation ) in the host country must be mentioned as challenges for immigration .

In 2013, the economist and migration researcher Herbert Brücker emphasized that immigrants from EU countries in Germany were on average better educated than Germans. In 2019, Brücker said that refugees are on average better educated than the population of their home countries and that the proportion of academics is twice as high. According to Brücker, 74% of men and 37% of women over 18 have professional experience, an average of ten years. In April 2019, 36% of immigrants since 2015 were in paid work. The Advisory Council of German Foundations for Integration and Migration speaks of a “free movement dividend”, as Germany as a whole benefits from immigrants from other European countries because they are on average ten years younger than the majority population in Germany. The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) moves as a result of an analysis to conclude that fears of displacement of native workers by EU immigrants have proved in retrospect to be unfounded: the analysis have found no evidence that locals due to the EU Eastern expansion would have increasingly lost their jobs to immigrants.

The increase in ethnic diversity through migration can lead to a decrease in social trust within society, even within the indigenous part. Low economic growth reinforces this connection.

Support for immigrants

Linguistic and cultural support in Germany

Integration courses were introduced in 2005 as part of the Immigration Act. The easy language can help immigrants with insufficient knowledge of German to find their way around authorities better or to understand official communications.

Support with integration into the labor market

In the course of the law to improve the determination and recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad , an advisory service was set up in the form of an internet portal and a telephone hotline in German and English.

See also

Portal: Migration  - Articles, categories and more about migration and flight


  • Mark Terkessidis; Martin Hoffmann (Ed.): Migrants . Rotbuch, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-434-53504-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Migrant  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. International Organization for Migration, World Migration Report 2005, p. 13.
  2. 2006 ( Memento of March 21, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) UNHCR. For the composition of refugees and IDPs, see this graphic . (UNHCR 2006)
  3. Europe: More deaths in the Mediterranean
  4. Asylum seekers, refugees, migrants - what are the differences? tagesschau.de , August 7, 2015.
  5. Deutschlandfunk, October 17, 2010
  6. Fabian Reinbold: Fact check on migration: Germany is a country of emigration - politics. In: Spiegel Online . October 15, 2010, accessed December 29, 2016 .
  7. ^ Herbert Brücker: Migration: The wrong, German immigration debate. In: guest post. Die Zeit, December 13, 2013, accessed on April 26, 2014 .
  8. Research on migrants: "Most refugees bring strong basic democratic attitudes with them." Www.tagesspiegel.de, July 22, 2019
  9. Matthias Krupa : Immigration: You are coming. Die Zeit, December 28, 2013, accessed on April 26, 2014 .
  10. ^ Labor market: EU enlargement to the east has not harmed Germans. Die Zeit, April 26, 2014, accessed on April 26, 2014 .
  11. Dr. Conrad Ziller: »Does immigration weaken social cohesion?« In: www.koerber-stiftung.de. Körber Foundation, 2016, accessed on September 22, 2019 .
  12. Recognition in Germany , Internet portal on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research