Drop in number of Jamaicans emigrating to US

HIGHLY educated and skilled Jamaicans continue to seek better opportunities overseas, with recent migration data revealing that 19,063 Jamaicans were granted visas for permanent residence or citizenship in the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom in 2021.

This information is contained in the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) 2022 Economic and Social Survey, which revealed that those three countries continued to be the main destination pick for emigrants from Jamaica. The US, however, remained the main destination of choice for Jamaican migrants relative to Canada and the UK.

However, the PIOJ data noted that while the US remains the main destination country of choice, there was a 38.4 per cent decline in the number of Jamaican emigrants to the USA.

“This was different for Canada as there were more emigrants from Jamaica in 2021 (4,045) compared with 2019 (2,342). Overall, there has been a 31.9 per cent reduction in emigration from Jamaica compared with 2019,” the document noted.

It further pointed out that emigrants to the US are admitted based on different categories of admission. Analysis of the data by category revealed that “Immediate Relatives to US Citizens” remained the primary category of admission (85.2 per cent). This was followed by “Family Sponsored Preferences”, which accounted for approximately 7.4 per cent of Jamaicans who obtained permanent residence status.

Further, the data revealed that the 4,045 Jamaican migrants who were granted permanent resident status to Canada in 2021 represented an increase of 99.3 per cent relative to the previous year.

“The majority of emigrants to Canada were individuals from the working age population, which represented 81.7 per cent. The largest proportion (585) of Jamaicans who were granted permanent resident status was in the age group 30−34, accounting for 14.5 per cent. Jamaicans between 35 and 39 years were the second-largest group of emigrants to Canada, representing 14.1 per cent,” the document read.

It said examination of data on permanent residents from Jamaica to Canada revealed that in 2021 the largest proportion of permanent emigrants was in the category “Non-workers, New Workers, Homemakers, Students, and Retirees” (74.6 per cent) followed by “Professionals, Senior Officials, and Technicians” (11.1 per cent).

At the same time, British citizenship was granted to applicants under one of four categories: “Residence, Marriage, Entitlement or Discretionary”. The 2021 immigration data revealed that a total of 1,549 Jamaicans were granted citizenship, a 22.9 per cent decrease compared to the previous year.

“The largest number of those who received British citizenship were granted citizenship in the category ‘Residence’ (46.0 per cent), while some 7.6 per cent of applicants received citizenship under the category ‘Marriage’. The reason for which 559 emigrants (32.7 per cent) were granted citizenship was not accounted,” the document stated.

In the meantime, the 2022 Economic and Social Survey also revealed that the number of Commonwealth citizens residing in Jamaica moved from 4,255 in 2019 to 3,782 in 2022, reflecting a decrease of approximately 11.1 per cent.

Similarly, there was a decrease in the number of aliens (people who are not nationals [natives or citizens] of a given State) registered over the period. In 2022, the number of aliens recorded was 8,506 compared to 10,595 (19.7 per cent) in 2019. The majority of aliens who requested extension of stay beyond six months was Asians (46.7 per cent), followed by Caribbean nationals (16.5 per cent) and Latin Americans (10.7 per cent).

Further, the survey revealed that in 2022, a total of 190 Jamaicans received Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) certificates from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Males accounted for the majority of those in receipt of a certificate, with 54.5 per cent, while females accounted for 45.5 per cent.

The CSME is an arrangement among Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states to facilitate the free movement of skills/labour, goods, services, and capital. The free movement of skills/labour includes the right of a Caricom national — under Article 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas for Caribbean Nationals — to gain employment across participating CSME member states.

A total of 12 specific categories are covered in the mobility agreement. These include university graduates; artists; musicians; media workers; athletes; teachers; nurses; holders of associate degrees or equivalents; artisans with a Caribbean vocational qualification (CVQ); household domestics with CVQ or equivalent qualification; agricultural workers; and security guards.