Emigration Definition ›› Emigrate vs. Immigrate vs. Migrate



Means for someone to leave the country that they’re born in, in order to go another country and live there permanently. It’s not a year of studying abroad, or moving to a country for a few years on a business assignment, and it’s not an extended vacation.

It is the clear decision to make a new country your home. Someone who emigrated usually seeks some sort of permanent resident status or citizenship. As a side note emigration, is just the act of leaving one’s home country to make a life in a new country.

  • I’m thinking about emigrating from Spain.
  • He emigrated here from Turkey.

Emigrate is often misused and confused with the work immigrate.

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Is when someone comes to live in a country permanently.  (Immigration is the act of one arriving at their new country to live permanently)

  • We have a list of countries that we would like to immigrate to.
  • We’re very happy that we immigrated here.

So what’s the difference between emigrate and immigrate? It’s simple, one refers to someone leaving, and the other refers to someone coming.

Emigrate is when someone leaves their old country and immigrate is when they arrive to their new country. When you emigrate you’re leaving, when you immigrate you’re coming.

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Refers to a person that comes to live in another country permanently. Therefore people who move from one country to permanently live in another are called immigrants.

  • Immigrants have contributed mighty to the city.
  • We’re proud to be immigrants and contribute to our new country.

While migrate doesn’t often get confused with these words, it is related.

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Means to move from one place to another. Usually someone or an animal migrates from one place to another, and it is usually cyclical.

They tend to go from point A, to point B, and then back to point A again. Migration is a flow of movement, it is not the permanent leaving or moving to a certain place. This word is most often used with animals.

They migrate to move from one habitat or region to another, and it especially correlates with the seasons. Birds and deer are well known for their migration habits.

  • Watching the ducks migration habits was fascinating. Sometimes they have different places they go to based on the time of day.
  • You can see whales this time of the year, because they migrate to this area.

Migrate can be used to describe the movements of people as well. In this case migration patterns tend to be determined by work. Sometimes people will move from their home country to another country for a few years due to work, and then return back home.

Others will move back and forth between their home country and another country seasonally. There is a special term for people who do this. They are called migrant workers.

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These are workers who will leave their home country, come to another country for a few months, and then go back home, only to return to their “work” country again a few months later. This is most common in agricultural work.

  • Her father has been migrating north to work on farms for over 20 years.
  • Migrating back and forth is a tiring and difficult way of life.

Migrate can also be used to refer to something moving from one place to another. In this case the word is not referring to people or animals. It can refer to objects, or pretty much any other noun.

  • The remote control migrated around the room as it passed from one family member to the next.
  • The flu migrated from one child in the class to another.

Here are some other was that someone can speak about moving from one country to another, whether it be permanent or temporary.

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Moving abroad/moving overseas

Means that someone is moving to another country. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it could be. Usually this phrase is used to speak about someone who  is moving for a significant period of time (6 months or more), but they plan on coming back.

  • Our family is moving abroad to England for a year.
  • I enjoyed my vacation here so much, that I’ve decided to move overseas for awhile.

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There are a few definitions for this word. It can refer to someone who has been banished from their home country.

It can also be someone who withdraws from residency of their home country. Or it can be someone who withdraws their allegiance from their home country.

However it is most often abbreviated to expat which nowadays refers to someone who is living in a country other than their own, often for work, and they plan on returning at some undetermined point.

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