Hardest Countries to Immigrate into

I moved to Switzerland about 4 years ago. My wife was given the opportunity to try for a Senior Level position in a company, our kids were either in University or Graduate School; so we said “What do we have to lose?” Sold almost everything we owned in the US and moved just outside of Zürich. Ever since our move, I have been fascinated by the number of people that say they want to move here. Most of them do not have a clue what is required, and are just asking questions. So today I asked AI to write about the 5 hardest countries to immigrate to. I have to admit I was a little bit shocked by number 5; so I had to do some more digging into that one.

An AI’s take on immigration

Immigration is a complex and multifaceted process, and certain countries make it particularly challenging due to their strict policies, complex bureaucracy, and stringent requirements. Here, we’ll examine five of the hardest countries to immigrate to: Japan, Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

  1. Japan

Japan has long been known for its stringent immigration policies, primarily due to a desire to maintain cultural homogeneity and protect domestic workers. While the nation has gradually opened its doors to foreign workers to address its labor shortage due to an aging population, Japan’s strict immigration rules are still in effect.

Those seeking to immigrate must meet certain requirements including having a valid passport, a Certificate of Eligibility, and meeting specific reasons for immigration such as work, study, or being related to a Japanese resident. Moreover, fluency in the Japanese language, a clean criminal record, and a local sponsor are usually required.

Japan’s Permanent Residency (PR) status is usually available after ten years of living in the country, but it could be shorter for highly-skilled foreign professionals. Even then, it involves a complex point system based on factors like age, educational background, career achievements, and income.

  1. Switzerland

Switzerland, while known for its high standard of living, is one of the hardest countries to immigrate to due to its stringent immigration policies. As a non-European Union (EU) citizen, acquiring Swiss residency or citizenship is difficult.

Residency is often linked to employment. However, Swiss employers must prove that they couldn’t find a Swiss or EU citizen to fill the position before hiring a non-EU citizen. Even if you secure a job, work permits are capped annually.

Swiss citizenship is an even longer process, typically requiring ten years of residency. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate integration into Swiss society, which involves language proficiency, understanding of Swiss social and political order, and compliance with the Swiss rule of law.

  1. Qatar

Qatar presents significant immigration challenges due to its unique Kafala (sponsorship) system. Foreign workers must have a Qatari sponsor, usually their employer, who takes legal and economic responsibility for them during their stay.

This system often leads to restrictive conditions, as sponsors control the entry and exit of the migrant worker from Qatar. For immigrants seeking permanent residency, the requirements are high, including a substantial financial income and a good character reputation.

  1. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE offers vast economic opportunities, attracting many foreign workers. However, securing permanent residence is a difficult task. The UAE doesn’t offer a standard path to permanent residency or citizenship for foreign workers. Work visas are typically tied to employment contracts, and once the contract ends, the visa is terminated.

Recently, the UAE introduced a long-term residence visa system, known as the “Golden Card,” for certain categories of expatriates such as investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals with special talents. However, the criteria are strict, and the application process can be complex and costly.

  1. United States

While the U.S. is often viewed as a nation built by immigrants, it has one of the most complex immigration systems. There are various ways to immigrate, including family-based, employment-based, and diversity lottery visas, each with its own set of strict regulations and long processing times.

Moreover, the U.S. imposes annual caps on certain categories of visas. For example, the H-1B visa for highly skilled workers is often oversubscribed within days of the application period opening. Also, the path to U.S. citizenship is long and complex, requiring at least five years of permanent residency, proficiency in English, passing a citizenship test, and an oath of allegiance.

In conclusion, while each country

has its own unique immigration policies and challenges, these five countries stand out for their particularly stringent requirements and processes. This does not make immigration impossible, but it requires significant time, effort, and often, a substantial financial investment. It is always advisable for those considering immigration to fully understand the specific requirements and processes of their intended destination country and to seek professional legal advice when needed.

I asked the AI if the US has always been one of the hardest countries to immigrate to or is it a recent phenomenon.

The United States’ history with immigration is complex and has evolved over time. The U.S. was relatively open to immigrants in its early history, from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, when the country was expanding westward and there was a need for labor. This period saw large numbers of immigrants, primarily from European countries.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, U.S. immigration policy began to change, becoming more restrictive. Laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first significant law restricting immigration into the U.S., and the Immigration Act of 1924, which imposed quotas based on national origin, targeted specific immigrant groups and made immigration more difficult.

Following World War II, immigration policy in the U.S. shifted again with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which eliminated national-origin quotas and introduced an immigration preference system for family reunification and skilled immigrants. This led to a significant increase in immigration, particularly from Latin America and Asia.

In recent decades, U.S. immigration policy has become even more complex and contentious, with debates over issues such as illegal immigration, border security, and refugee policies. Various reforms and measures, including the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and post-9/11 security measures, have made the immigration process more difficult and time-consuming.

The rise in the number of immigrants, coupled with the increased complexity of immigration laws and processes, has contributed to the perception of the U.S. as one of the hardest countries to immigrate to. This perception has been intensified by policy changes under different administrations, which have fluctuated between more open and more restrictive approaches to immigration.

It’s important to note that “difficulty” can be subjective and depends on various factors, such as an individual’s country of origin, economic status, education level, and professional skills, as well as changing political climates and policy changes. Thus, while the U.S. immigration process is generally considered challenging due to its complexity, it may not be equally difficult for all individuals or at all times.

2 thoughts on “Hardest Countries to Immigrate into

  1. I find the AI’s suggestion curious. It shows that these models today are more text generating than intelligent. What they don’t do is a reality check. Let’s look at the 2020 population numbers of foreign born population:

    Japan: 2 %
    USA: 15 %
    Switzerland: 29 %
    Qatar: 77 %
    UAE: 88 %

    The next level of reality check would be how many have permanent residencies or stay in the country after retirement…

    1. I am glad I am not alone. I have been thinking the same thing. I get the impression of a student writing their first research paper and instead of having their own thoughts simply copies the research he found.

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