Immigration visa

Immigration, by definition, refers to the decision and process of an individual who decides to move to a new country or region to stay and live there, either temporarily or permanently. There are dozens of different reasons why individuals, families, and groups of people choose to immigrate to new countries. Better employment opportunities, family reunification, sociopolitical upheavals, and environmental factors: are just a few of the reasons why people choose to migrate.

The European Commission defines immigration programs as those that “facilitate migration which is organized or supported with the assistance of a government, governments or an international organization, as opposed to spontaneous migration, which is unaided.”

Most governments of sovereign countries have different immigration programs that offer legal pathways for individuals and families who are seeking to migrate to that country. These immigration programs will differ from country to country. However, most governments of those countries that receive large numbers of both temporary and permanent migrants have well-established protocols and legal routes that enable people to safely and legally enter and stay in those countries of their choice.

Some immigration programs may be centered on short-term employment opportunities, such as the temporary work visas offered by the United States government to help cover the demand for agricultural labor during certain harvest seasons. Other immigration programs may be focused on allowing high-skilled workers and professionals to permanently enter the country to work and help address shortages of important professional jobs in that country. Still, other immigration programs may focus on family reunification efforts, refugee or political asylum cases, or simply enhancing the diversity of a country.


Applying through established immigration programs might take more effort, time, and patience than unaided, irregular migratory routes. However, immigration programs around the world exist to help ensure that people wanting to migrate can do so in a safe, authorized, and orderly manner. Once accepted into a country through an established immigration program, the individual or family will also enjoy the rights and legal protections that come with being in the country legally.

For people who are looking to migrate in the near term future, it is extremely important to research and understand the processes, legal terminology, and nuances of the different immigration programs that are available in the country in which they are planning to arrive. Understanding the immigration programs that are available to you will help in selecting the right pathway based on your individual needs and circumstances. This will also increase the probability of being accepted through an established immigration program.

Immigration statistics

According to the 2022 World Migration Report, published by the United Nations, an estimated 281 million people were living in a country other than their countries of birth in the year 2020. This number has increased dramatically over the past decades. Compared to 1990, for example, there are 128 million more migrants today and over three times as many international migrants as there were back in 1970. Given our growing world population, strong family ties across international borders, the mobility of the global economy and marketplace, and increasing political and environmental instability in certain parts of the world, the number of total migrants across the world should only continue to rise in the coming years and decades.

Unfortunately, millions of people who choose to migrate do so as undocumented or “irregular” migrants. In 2022, for example, the number of undocumented immigrant crossings at the southern border of the United States with Mexico was over 2.76 million people. Undocumented migration tends to pose serious safety risks to the person or family who is migrating. From crossing dangerously hot deserts in the southern United States to crossing the Mediterranean Sea in insecure boats to get to Europe, undocumented migratory routes have caused numerous tragedies over the years.

Popular countries for immigration

Though virtually every country in the world receives immigrants (or has received immigrants in the past), certain countries receive more immigration than others. Solid economic opportunities, political stability, the opportunity for family reunification, and other similar conditions are a few reasons why countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom receive huge influxes of migrants every year. Given the number of migrants wanting to reach these countries each year, there are also dozens of different immigration programs set up and administered by these five countries.

Below, we offer a succinct overview of the different immigration programs that are available for each of these five countries. This will allow individuals who either want to migrate for employment opportunities or those who are seeking asylum for each country, to use compelling and fact-based descriptions of the country’s available immigration programs.



Canada currently receives around 500,000 new immigrants each year, making this one of the highest rates of accepted immigrants per population of any country in the world. Canada has several legal immigration programs that allow foreign nationals to legally enter the country. These programs include:

  • The Express Entry
    This program is currently accepting up to 300,000 new immigrants each year and is widely considered to be the fastest, easiest, and most popular pathway to permanent residence for skilled workers who wish to immigrate to Canada for economic and work-related reasons. There are three main categories managed through this system that help people obtain Canadian permanent residence status, including federal skilled workers, federal skilled trades, and Canadian Experience Class.
  • Provincial Nominee Programs
    This immigration program offers a specific pathway to Canadian permanent residence for people who are interested in immigrating permanently to a specific Canadian province or territory. In general, you will need to show some sort of connection to that province or territory, including but not limited to previous work or study in that province, or a job offer from an employer in the province who can help you apply for a work-related visa.
  • Start-up Visa
    The Canadian government also offers start-up visas which are oriented toward immigrant entrepreneurs who possess the skills and potential to build innovative startup businesses in Canada. To apply for this visa, you must show how your business plan is innovative, how it can create jobs for Canadians, and how it will be able to compete in a global economy.

Learn more about Immigration to Canada

Learn more about Canada Start-up Visa



Australia receives around 250,000 new immigrants each year, with India contributing to the majority of these migrants. Australia also has several immigration programs available for legal and safe migration, including:

  • Australia’s General Skilled Migration program
    This program is meant to attract those who have the skills and ability to fill local jobs that are not being filled by Australia´s current population. This immigration program is designed to attract migrants who can demonstrably show an ability to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy and fill job positions where no Australian workers are available. Examples of areas of the economy that need skilled migrant labor include sectors like healthcare, engineering, IT, and education.
  • Global Talent Program
    This visa category offers an immigration pathway towards a permanent visa for exceptionally talented and prominent individuals who can raise Australia’s standing in their field. The Global Talent Program is centered on future-focused sectors with a special focus on IT, engineering, and similar fields.
  • Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program
    Australia also has a program that offers legal immigration pathways to refugees and people in humanitarian who are seeking to resettle in
 New Zealand

New Zealand

The year 2023 saw a record of migrant arrivals to New Zealand, with around 182,500 people immigrating to New Zealand either permanently or temporarily. Some of the most popular immigration programs for New Zealand include:

  • Resident Visa Program
    This program is directed to people who are 55 or younger and want to live in New Zealand permanently. You must first get a short-term work visa, and can subsequently apply for permanent residence after working legally in the country for 2 years. The country also has a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa that is directed to those migrants who have skills that are in high demand.
  • Refugee Program
    The New Zealand government also settles around 1,500 refugees each year. You can migrate to New Zealand if you have refugee status through the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) resettlement program if you have fled your country of origin due to fear of persecution or harm, or if you have family members who are already living in New Zealand through the refugee program.
 United States of America

United States of America

The United States is home to more international migrants than any other country around the world. Given the enormous amounts of migration throughout its history, the country also has several immigration programs to help people migrate legally into the country. Some of the most popular immigration programs in the United States include:

  • Employment-Based Green Cards
    These visas are offered as both temporary and permanent pathways to migrate to the United States for work-related The green card program can be difficult to navigate since there are five different categories based on the skills or other benefits that the individual can claim to be bringing into the county. Four of these categories focus on skills migrant workers can bring into the country, with some requiring an employer invitation. The fifth category, EB-5 visa, is designed for investors who contribute to the U.S. economy through significant financial investments.
  • Family-Based Green Cards
    This is essentially a family reunification program and is eligible for family members of current U.S. citizens and green card holders. Eligible family members may include spouses, children, parents, and siblings.
  • Refugee Green CardsIt is also possible to migrate to the United States as a refugee or through political asylum. This can include people who have suffered as victims of human trafficking, abuse, and crime. This program can be difficult to navigate and tends to have long wait periods for cases to be heard.
  • Green Card Lottery
    Lastly, the United States government also hosts an annual green card lottery that awards permanent resident status to around 50,000 people each year. To apply for this lottery, you must be a citizen of a country that has a low rate of immigration to the US.
 United Kingdom

United Kingdom

In 2022, 1.16 million people migrated to the United Kingdom with an additional 557,000 people emigrating away from the country. This resulted in a net migration increase of 606,000. A few of the most popular immigration programs in the United Kingdom include:

  • Skilled Workers
    Under the points-based system, the UK offers a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. The job must be at a required skill level. Applicants must be able to speak English and be paid the relevant salary threshold by their sponsor.
  • Global Talent Scheme
    This program is open to EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens and allows highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer. It’s designed to attract top talent in these fields.
  • High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa
    This is another notable option, allowing individuals who have been awarded a qualification from a top global university within the last five years to come to the UK without a job offer.

Benefits of immigrating

Leaving your home country can be a traumatic experience, especially if you are fleeing from conflict, environmental degradation, poverty, etc. However, migrating to a new country can offer several advantages that can help individuals and families get a new start in life.

Migrating to a new country often opens up unique economic opportunities that are simply not available in your country of origin. The United Nations states that migrant workers send between US$200 and $300 home every one or two months. Economic remittances are often an important economic lifeline to family members who stay in their country of origin.

Furthermore, immigration may also offer superior educational prospects for young people who may not find the ability to continue their preferred path of study in their country of origin. Upon finishing their education, some migrants may choose to return to their countries of origin with their enhanced education and abilities.

Other benefits and advantages that may come with immigration to a new country include an enhanced lifestyle, improved career opportunities, access to quality and emergency healthcare, cultural enrichment, and the chance to reunite with family members. Choosing to migrate through established immigration programs can ensure that your migratory experience is legal and safe, and offers you the best chance for long-term stability.

 Benefits of immigrating

Common paths to immigration (immigration categories)

Around the world, different countries tend to divide their immigration programs into categories that respond to the differing needs of the individuals intending to migrate into the country. Some of the primary avenues through which individuals typically immigrate include:

Skilled worker programs

These programs are focused on individuals who have already developed professional skills and work experience in certain in-demand occupations. Many developed countries actively seek out high-skilled laborers and professionals to satisfy growing demand in certain industries. Start-up visas also fall into this category as countries actively seek to invite innovative entrepreneurs into the country to stimulate economic growth.

Family reunification

Most major migrant-receiving countries also have different pathways available for individuals to join their family members who are either citizens or permanent residents of that country.

Student and educational visas

Young people looking to continue their higher education studies may also apply for educational visas. Upon finishing their course of study, there are generally different programs available to those graduates that allow them to transition to permanent residency or embark upon a pathway to citizenship.

Business and investor programs

Business owners who wish to either relocate to a new country or expand a successful business into new markets may also be able to obtain permanent residency through different business and investor programs. If they can prove that their company will be relocating a certain amount of capital to the country or providing a certain number of jobs, these programs generally offer a quick pathway toward residency.

Refugee and asylum seekers

Lastly, most developed countries have refugee and asylum programs for individuals and families who are facing persecution or conflicts in their country of origin.

Selecting the right immigration program

Understanding the different available immigration programs will help you to decide which of these programs is most suitable for your case. For example, you probably shouldn’t apply for an investor visa if you cannot prove that your company has hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital to invest in the country. Similarly, if you don’t have verifiable information that proves your status as a refugee, you may not be able to apply for refugee or asylum status.

Here are a few key questions individuals should ask themselves when deciding which country to immigrate to and which immigration program may offer you the best chance for acceptance into the country:

  1. Economic and Employment Opportunities: Does this country have a robust economy and a shortage of workers in my trade, profession, or industry, offering me good prospects for employment and financial stability?
  2. Social and Cultural Integration: Are there communities, including family members or friends, in this country that can assist in my integration during the initial months? How accepting is the country of cultural and ethnic diversity?
  3. Political Stability and Policy Changes: Does the country have a stable political environment? Is there a likelihood of significant changes in immigration policies that could affect my status?
  4. Education and Healthcare: Does the country provide quality education and accessible healthcare services, including for migrants?
  5. Personal and Family Eligibility: Do my qualifications, work experience, and language proficiency align with the requirements of the country’s immigration programs? Are there specific programs that accommodate my family’s needs?
  6. Financial and Legal Requirements: Can I meet the financial requirements for the immigration process, including application fees and proof of funds? Are there clear guidelines to assess my eligibility?
  7. Long-term Prospects: Is there a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship after initial temporary or short-term stay?
  8. Application Process: What is the typical duration and complexity of the application process for the desired immigration program?

These are just a few of the questions that every migrant should ask themselves before deciding which country to migrate to, and which immigration program through which to apply. With proper planning and preparation, potential migrants can drastically improve the probability of being accepted and successfully starting a new life in a new country.

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