Covid-19: residence permits for migrants down 46% in OECD countries

Migrants in Tripoli, Libya, May 12, 2020. REUTERS / Ayman Al-Sahili

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The Covid-19 crisis has had unprecedented consequences on migratory flows around the world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, which brings together around 40 developed countries.

In 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic, the number of new permanent immigrants had indeed remained stable, at around 5.3 million per year.

But it is above all the number of residence permits issued that is down, less than 46% in the first quarter of this year.


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Already in 2019, before the pandemic, the number of immigrants admitted for humanitarian reasons in OECD countries fell by 25%, especially in the United States.

On the contrary, the immigration of permanent workers has increased in the United Kingdom, Finland, Luxembourg and France.

But in 2020, the borders were closed.

As regards immigrants already established in their host country, they have been more affected by the increase in unemployment than workers born there.

In the United States, in particular, 60% of immigrants have lost their jobs.

As in Europe, immigrants often occupy low-skilled jobs in services and hotels and restaurants, sectors particularly affected by the crisis.

Likewise, the recruitment of seasonal migrant workers has sometimes been impossible due to quarantines or restrictions. 

In addition, the crisis has highlighted the shortcomings in the reception facilities for migrants, particularly in terms of housing, language learning, as well as in the education of children.

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the OECD report


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  • Coronavirus

  • Immigration

  • International Migration

  • Humanitarian