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Decade of flight

Near 300,000 J'cans emigrate over past 10 years; fewer returning home

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, August 01, 2020

JUST under 300,000 Jamaicans have emigrated between 2008 and 2018 the Planning Institute of Jamaica's Economic and Social Survey 2019 report has indicated.

According to the document, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 282,549 Jamaicans left the country during that period for the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada — the countries of choice.

Figures were not provided for Jamaicans who migrated to other countries.

The US accounted for 79 per cent or 222,000 of the migrants, the UK 10 per cent or 28,900, while Canada accepted 31,500 Jamaican migrants or 11 per cent over the period.

A total of 29,223 Jamaicans migrated in 2016, the highest figure recorded for the period, while 22,835 left the year before, representing the lowest to migrate over the 10-year period.

Meanwhile, the report said, for 2018, the latest period recorded, emigrants from Jamaica who were granted permanent resident visas or citizenship to the main destination countries were estimated at 27,783. This, it said, represents a 1.4 per cent increase in the number of Jamaicans who were granted permanent residence or citizenship when compared to the previous year (27,387).

Although the US (20,347) remained the destination of choice for Jamaicans that year, relative to Canada and the UK, there was a 7.1 per cent decline in the number of Jamaicans who were granted visas for permanent residence relative to 2017 (21,905).

The report said an analysis of the data by category revealed that 'Immediate Relatives to the US' and 'Family-Sponsored Preferences' remained the primary categories of admission. This was followed by 'Employment-Based Preferences'.

Data on age, sex, and occupational status for Jamaican migrants were not provided in the report.

For Canada, the number of migrants (3,875) who were granted permanent resident status for 2018 increased by 1.2 per cent relative to the previous year (3,830).

Similar to 2017, the largest proportion (646) of Jamaicans who were granted permanent resident status was in the age group 30−34, accounting for 16.7 per cent. This also represented a 7.7 per cent increase in emigrants to Canada compared with the previous year.

British citizenship, the report said, was granted to applicants under one of four categories — residence, marriage, entitlement, or discretionary.

Between 2014 and 2018 there were fluctuations in the number of Jamaicans who were granted citizenship. In 2018, a total of 3,561 Jamaicans were granted citizenship, more than two times the number (1,651) recorded in the previous year.

The bulk of British citizenship was granted on the basis of 'residence' (69.8 per cent) and 'entitlement' (17.2 per cent).

Some 10.1 per cent of applicants received citizenship under the category 'marriage', while 'minor children' represented the majority of applicants who received citizenship based on 'entitlement'.

In the meantime, the report said the number of voluntary returning Jamaicans processed in 2019 was 721, representing a decline of 1.4 per cent relative to the previous year (731).

Data over the five-year period 2015−2019 revealed a decline of 15.6 per cent from 854 in 2015 to 721 in 2019. The majority of returning residents came from the US (55.5 per cent) and other countries (18.4 per cent), followed by the UK (14.1 per cent). As was customary, it said, Canada accounted for the lowest decline.