Immigration is the act of non-native people moving to a country in order to permanently settle there. Motives for immigration are varied and often divided into two main categories: push factors are those factors that drive people away from their home country, such as persecution, poverty and oppression; pull factors are those that pull people towards their target country, such as family reunification, better education or employment opportunities.
Immigration laws vary from country to country. Although countries are free to deny residence permits to economic migrants, i.e. those that migrate voluntarily, they are, to a certain extent, obliged by UN Convention to grant asylum to those who are threatened by persecution or genocide in their respective home country. In 2011, the United States granted asylum
to 24,988 people, which represents only a fraction of the 56,384 refugees arriving in the U.S.
Meanwhile, 1.06 million green cards were issued in the U.S. in 2011
, i.e. 1.06 million immigrants obtained legal permanent resident status.
According to World Bank statistics, the United States is the largest immigration country in the world
with an estimated 42.8 million immigrants living in the country in 2010.
Russia and Germany are ranked second and third behind the States with 12.3 and 10.8 million immigrants respectively. The largest emigration countries in the world
are Mexico, India and Russia. 11.9 million Mexicans lived abroad in 2010, most of them (11.6 millions), not surprisingly, in the United States. The migration corridor between Mexico and the United States constitutes the largest one in the world by a wide margin. Other significant migration corridors
include Russia-Ukraine (both ways), Bangladesh-India and Turkey-Germany.
On a global scale, it comes as no surprise that the net migration balances of the highly developed continents of Europe, North America and Oceania are positive, while those of Asia, Africa and Latin America are negative. Between 2005 and 2010, Europe had a migration surplus of 9.05 millions compared to a 7.8 million deficit of Asia, according to migration data published by the United Nations
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