The latest Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) to be published by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group has served to highlight many of the integration issues faced by expats everywhere. When you choose to move abroad you may expect to have to work hard at establishing a new life – but certain nations make it much harder than others.
We often comment on the fact that expats need to be well prepared for integration related issues potentially arising in their new nation of choice. However, there is often only so much the individual can do when policies in place locally actually discriminate against foreigners.
As the Migration Integration Policy Index clearly serves to highlight, some countries are welcoming of foreign talent – others are less welcoming. And because the report examines nations on a series of different criteria, it’s easier for expats to tap into the data and assess for themselves where they think they may be able to move to live and establish a new life abroad.
MIPEX examined 31 nations across Europe and North America and assessed their integration policies based on the following criteria: – employment opportunities, family reunion, education, political participation, long-term residence, access to citizenship and anti-discrimination.
The top five nations for ease of integration based on these seven key areas were Sweden, Portugal, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands – great news for anyone contemplating relocation to such countries. However, the bottom ranked five were Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Malta and Lithuania – with Cyprus and Malta both exceptionally popular choices with British expats for example.
Both Cyprus and Malta lack significant employment opportunities at the moment – although because both are in Europe there is theoretically nothing preventing families from reuniting in either nation. Education standards are high in both nations – and access to schooling is relatively straightforward, but both fall down hard when it comes to access to citizenship, political participation and anti-discrimination.
Many British expatriates are relatively comfortable living on the periphery of a nation – i.e., access to citizenship is unimportant as having British citizenship is often deemed preferable anyway. With citizenship comes political participation, and many expats are uninterested in voting in their old nation let alone their new nation!
However, for Britons moving abroad, having access to jobs, education for their children and being able to sponsor family members to join them are by far the most significant factors affecting integration – and we would suggest that if you’re thinking about relocating overseas, these should be among your primary issues to focus on.
A country that won’t allow you citizenship but will allow you to live comfortably with your family, where you won’t be discriminated against in the workplace because of your race and where your children can access education could well be an acceptable choice for British expats. However do ensure you assess any potential country from the point of view of integration…
The MIPEX study is very useful for many reasons – one of the key reasons being that it highlights for would-be expats the fact that integration is not always smooth and straightforward. Use the findings to assess any countries you’re interested in living in, and use the criteria the study uses to rank any other nations you’re interested in that may not be on the list.
Finally however, you will have your own key points when it comes to what will make integration possible for you and your family, and hopefully MIPEX’s focus on the integration difficulties that expats can face will ensure you do all your necessary research before you commit to the move.