Top destination countries for international migrants

Top destination countries for international migrants

The United States of America has been the main country of destination for international migrants since 1970. Since then, the number of foreign-born people residing in the country has more than quadrupled – from less than 12 million in 1970, to close to 51 million in 2019. Germany, the second top destination for migrants, has also observed an increase over the years, from 8.9 million in 2000 to 13.1 million in 2019. 

Top 20 destination countries of international migrants in 2019 (millions)

Top 20 destinations countries international migrants 2019 millions

In regard to the distribution of international migrants by countries’ income group, nearly two thirds of international migrants resided in high-income countries in 2019 – around 176 million. This compares with 82 million foreign-born who resided in middle-income countries (about one third of the total migrant stock) and 13 million in low-income countries in the same year. 

UN DESA estimates of foreign-born populations do not reflect immigration status or policy categories (such as students, highly skilled migrants, or refugees). Capturing such attributes is inherently difficult for several key reasons. First, a person’s immigration status can be fluid and change quickly, arising from circumstances and legal / policy settings. For example, many international migrants who may be described as ‘‘undocumented” or “irregular” enter countries on valid visas and then stay in contravention of one or more visa conditions. In fact, there are many paths to irregularity, such as crossing borders without authorisation, unlawfully overstaying a visa period, working in contravention of visa conditions, being born into irregularity, or remaining after a negative decision on an asylum application has been made.


IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

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