Covid-19 Impact on International Migration: Upheaval in the Short Run, but Few Lasting Effects


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  • M.
Publication Date


  • Border measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through international travel such as mandatory tests or quarantine requirements will have little effect on long-term migration, although they may discourage short-term travel for business or tourism.
  • International coordination of strategies for infectious disease control and contact tracing across borders will render border measures redundant.
  • When countries host irregular or undocumented immigrants, it is good public health policy to ensure that individuals can access health care and support, if they need to quarantine, without fear of being penalized for their (lack of) legal status.
  • One lasting structural change due to the Covid-19 pandemic will likely be a discrete jump in the adoption of new information and communication technologies. However, digitization will leave many tasks that are now performed by immigrant workers in Europe unaffected. Demand for immigrant workers will therefore remain strong overall.
  • Maintaining humane reception conditions for irregular immigrants and asylum seekers becomes more costly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the right to apply for asylum exists independently of the pandemic. Fairer responsibility sharing for refugee protection becomes more urgent, both among EU member states and with non-EU countries.

Kiel Institute Expert


Key Words

  • Corona crisis
  • COVID19
  • Migration