Why Internal Migrants are Treated Differently from International Migrants?


This post has been written by Sukhleen Kaur Saluja, a 1st year Law Student from Amity University, Chhattisgarh


“Migrant” means a person who moves from place to place in order to find work or for better living condition. The UN migration policy defines a migrant as any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual residence, regardless of:

  • The person’s Legal status
  • Whether the movements is voluntary or involuntary
  • What the causes of movements are
  • What the length of stay is


Internal migrants are the people who migrate between states and within the country. They are mostly seen in the semi-skilled and unskilled worker in rural and urban areas. They migrate from state or within country in search of employment, education, for better life. The internal migrant do not pose a problem of Brain Drain (in which large number of educated and skilled people leave their own country to live in another place for better life.) But the internal migrants’ are paid less as compared to international migrants.


International migrants are people who migrate from one country to another country across international borders. They migrate from country to country in search of higher education, job opportunities etc. The international paid mare as compared to internal migrants. The government provides security to international migrants through Indian embassy’s in the respective country. In international migration pose a serious problem of brain drain of highly educated people working for other countries process.


Internal migration is much larger phenomenon that affects the life of many people. Internal migrants’ gets less attention as compared to international migration and this neglect of internal migrant is more systematic, and this tragedy has been for decades. Internal migrants also face same problems and challenges as international migrants. In India according to recent economies survey, the internal migration rate doubled in 2001-2011 compared to previous decades. Over the past 30 years, the proportion of China’s population living in the country’s urban areas has increased from 22.9% to 56.8%of its 1.3 billion citizens. In 2012 China has more than 262 million internal migrants workers, which is more than international migrants worldwide whereas in 2015 58% of international migrants stayed in developed nation. The nation-wide lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19  , there has been countless report of the acute distress facing India’s millions of international migrants and due to these some has died by walking kilometres to return their villages, other have died by suicide from the fear of corona virus and livelihood loss etc.

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International migration is viewed favorably and opportunity driven; indeed, India celebrates Pravasi Bharatiya Divas once every two year and international migrants are paid more than internal migrants whereas rural-urban internal migrants is seen as a distress and are seen as burdening the urban system. Human rights apply to all human being, regardless of immigration status. Each and every person whether a migrant or a citizen all have right to life, liberty, security of person and whether he/she is a internal migrant or a international migrant both should be treated equally without any discrimination. Our data system have traditionally kept the issue of internal migration on the margin and never given importance it deserves. According to UN, globally there are atleast 740 million internal migrants, compare this with 232 million international migrants and migrants face same challenges including social isolation, discrimination and poor working condition and have same need of human right as international migrants. By moving in search of opportunity, internal migrant may put themselves in harm way but if we see all these inequality can be filled if program and policies are properly grounded in evidence and misconception. On International Migration Day when the UN raises awareness about international migrants they should not forget the need of internal migrants.


So, I conclude that internal migrants and international migrants both have same challenges, they both go to different states, countries for finding work to because of unemployment, job opportunities so there should be no discrimination and internal migrants should also get the same protection as international migrants and internal migrants should be paid equally and all these can be done if program and policies are made same for all.


[1] https://thewire.in/rights/migrants-internal-international-lockdown


Also read: https://lawlex.org/lex-pedia/migrants-and-their-tragic-tales-of-lockdown/20186


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