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6/8/06

Immigration rises in OECD countries but asylum requests fall, says OECD


08/06/2006 - Between 3 and 3.5 million immigrants, including those already living in their new country on a temporary basis, became official long-term residents in OECD countries in 2004, according to International Migration Outlook, the latest edition of the OECD’s annual report on migration movements and policies.

Immigration rose sharply to the United States (+34%), Italy (+28%) and the United Kingdom (24%) during 2004, the latest year for which comparative figures are available. By contrast, immigration dropped sharply in Finland (-25%), Germany (-15%) and New Zealand (-14%). Over the same period, the number of asylum seekers arriving in OECD countries declined by more than 20%, continuing a trend that has seen a 35% drop since 2000.

International Migration Outlook includes for the first time statistics which give a comparable picture of migration flows by counting only migrants on long-term resident visas, and not those, such as students or seasonal workers, with non-renewable or short-term residence permits. The statistics do not include unauthorised migration.

The number of temporary, seasonal, and contract workers has been increasing over the past ten years as OECD countries continue to recruit temporary foreign workers. In the countries and categories for which detailed data are available, temporary entries for employment increased by approximately 7% in 2004, reaching 1.5 million. The increase in the number foreign students is also significant, particularly in New Zealand, Japan, Australia, France and Germany. 

Following the enlargement of the European Union to 25 states in May 2004, only three EU member countries - the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden - opened their labour markets to nationals of the new accession countries. Since then, the UK and Ireland have received a significant number of immigrants from these countries, Sweden to a lesser extent. From May 2004 to the end of December 2005, 345 000 workers from the new member states were registered in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, from May 2004 to May 2005, 83 000 nationals of the new EU member states were registered, equal to 4% of the Irish labour force.  

Many countries have adopted measures to attract highly skilled immigrants and foreign students by introducing or improving selection policies. Security and the fight against irregular migration, however, remain key elements of policies to control migration flows. In parallel, new measures were adopted to develop or improve the integration of newcomers. These include obligatory language courses (Denmark and the Netherlands), assistance to find jobs, increased ethnic diversity within enterprises (almost all OECD countries), and the fight against discrimination (France) and for equal opportunities (Belgium, Finland, Sweden, among others).

International Migration Outlook evaluates migration policies and programmes which fix quotas and set numerical limits.  It notes that these systems can be difficult to manage if the levels set do not take account of existing family or humanitarian migration as well as unauthorised movements. It also reviews the links between migration, financial remittances to immigrants’ countries of origin and development in these countries.

For more information, please go to www.oecd.org/els/migration/imo2006

 

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