Key Migration Terms
The IOM "Glossary on Migration" is as an accessible and comprehensive collection of migration-related terminology. Designed for all persons dealing with migration issues at the international level, the glossary aims at creating a common understanding of migration terms.
The governance of migration is multi-layered occurring at the national, regional and international levels, and in a world in which so many migration challenges and realties transcend national and regional borders, a common understanding of migration in order to effectively respond to such challenges is fundamental. At the foundation of any common understanding on migration is the use of a common "language".
This Glossary provides a wide-set of terms pertaining to conceptual, legal, theoretical or practical matters of migration. It is addressed at policy makers, practitioners, scholars, students as well as to anyone who is interested in migration issues.
The Glossary can be accessed here.
Key Migration Terms
- Assisted voluntary return and reintegration - Administrative, logistical or financial support, including reintegration assistance, to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country or country of transit and who decide to return to their country of origin.
- Asylum Seeker - An individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every recognized refugee is initially an asylum seeker.
- Child Trafficking - The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.
- Climate Migration - The movement of a person or groups of person who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment due to climate change, are obliged to leave their habitual place of residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, within a State or across an international border.
- Deportation - In international humanitarian law, deportation refers to the forced displacement of civilians which is prohibited in times of occupation and non-international armed conflict except when required for their security or imperative military reasons.
- Diaspora - Migrants or descendants of migrants whose identity and sense of belonging, either real or symbolic, have been shaped by their migration experience and background. They maintain links with their homelands, and to each other, based on a shared sense of history, identity, or mutual experiences in the destination country.
- Displaced persons - Persons or groups who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, either across an international border or within a State, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters.
- Environmental Migration - The movement of persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are forced to leave their places of habitual residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move within or outside their country of origin or habitual residence.
- Exploitation - The act of taking advantage of something or someone, in particular the act of taking unjust advantage of another for one’s own benefit.
- Forced Migration - A migratory movement which, although the drivers can be diverse, involves force, compulsion, or coercion.
- Immigrant - From the perspective of the country of arrival, a person who moves into a country other than that of his or her nationality or usual residence, so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence.
- Internally Displaced Person - Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or IDPs obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.
- Irregular Migration - Movement of persons that takes place outside the laws, regulations, or international agreements governing the entry into or exit from the State of origin, transit or destination.
- Labour Migration - Movement of persons from one State to another, or within their own country of residence for the purpose of employment.
- Migrant - An umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons. The term includes a number of well-defined legal categories of people, such as migrant workers; persons whose particular types of movements are legally defined, such as smuggled migrants; as well as those whose status or means of movement are not specifically defined under international law, such as international students.
- Migrant Worker - A person who is to be engaged, is engaged, or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.
- Migration - The movement of persons away from their place of usual residence, either across an international border or within a State.
- Refugee (1951 Convention) - A person who, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling ot avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.
- Regular Migration - Migration that occurs in compliance with the laws of the country of origin, transit and destination.
- Remittances (migrant) - Private international monetary transfers that migrants make, individually or collectively.
- Repatriation - The personal right of a prisoner of war, civil detainee, refugee, or of a civilian to return to his or her country of nationality under specific conditions laid down in various international instruments.
- Resettlement - The transfer of refugees from the country in which they have sought protection to another State that has agreed to admit them – as refugees – with permanent residence status.
- Safe, orderly and regular migration - Movement of persons in keeping both with the laws and regulations governing exit from, entry and return to and stay in States and with States’ international law obligations, in a manner in which the human dignity and well-being of migrants are upheld, their rights are respected, protected and fulfilled and the risks associated with the movement of people are acknowledged and mitigated.
- Smuggling of Migrants - The procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, or the irregular entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.
- Social Remittances - The transfer of ideas, behaviours, identities and social capital from migrants to their communities of origin.
- Stranded Migrant - Migrants who are unable to return to their country of origin, cannot regularize their status in the country where they reside, and do not have access to legal migration opportunities that would enable them to move on to another State. The term may also refer to migrants who are stranded because of humanitarian or security reasons in the country of destination, transit or origin preventing them to return home while they are also unable to go elsewhere.
- Sustainable Reintegration - In the context of international return migration, reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities, and psychosocial well-being that allow them to cope with possible (re)migration drivers.
- Temporary Migration - Migration for a specific motivation and purpose with the intention to return to the country of origin or habitual residence after a limited period of time or to undertake an onward movement.
- Tourist - A person who does not reside in the country of arrival and is admitted to that country temporarily (under tourist visas if required) for purposes of leisure, recreation, holiday, visits to friends or relatives, health or medical treatment, or religious pilgrimage. A tourist must spend at least a night in a collective or private accommodation in the receiving country and the duration of his or her stay must not surpass 12 months.
- Trafficking in persons - The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal or organs.
- Unaccompanied children - Children as defined in Article 1 of the Convention on the Right of the Child, who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so.
- Voluntary Return - The assisted or independent return to the country of origin, transit or another country based on the voluntary decision of the returnee.
- Undocumented Migrant - A migrant who is not authorized to enter, to stay and to engage in a remunerated activity in the State of employment pursuant to the law of that State and to international agreements to which that State is a party.