Thursday 4 June, 2020

Fewer Jamaicans migrated to US, UK in 2017, but Canada numbers up

Jamaica's main international gateway, the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston)

Jamaica's main international gateway, the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston)

Fewer Jamaicans migrated in 2017, when compared to 2016, according to the 2018 edition of the Economic and Social Survey Jamaica (ESSJ).

Despite the decrease, the main destination countries for Jamaican emigrants – the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and Canada - accounted for 27,387 emigrants in 2017. The UK recorded the biggest decrease, while Canada recorded a significant increase.

“While the USA continued to be the main destination country for Jamaicans, there was a 6.2 per cent decrease to 21,905,” said the ESSJ.

“For the UK, there was a 28.6 per cent decrease in the total number of emigrants to 1,652, relative to 2,313 in 2016.

“There was, however, a 7.6 per cent increase to 3,830 in the number of emigrants to Canada,” said the ESSJ, an annual publication of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

The document noted that similar to previous years, family-related classifications remained the main reasons for Jamaicans being granted visas for permanent residence in the USA.

The ‘immediate relatives to US citizens’ category accounted for 67.1 per cent of applications being approved, while 28.1 per cent were due to ‘family-sponsored preferences’. Another 4.4 per cent of applicants were in the employment-based preferences’ category, while 0.2 per cent of applications were granted for ‘other’ reasons.

Meanwhile, younger Jamaicans continue to move to Canada.

Of the 3,830 Jamaicans who were granted permanent resident status to Canada in 2017, some 40.6 per cent were in the age group 25–39 years.

The ESSJ said this was a “consistent pattern in the age group of Jamaican emigrants to Canada observed over the years.” It said the trend of the 10–19 age group making up the second highest group of emigrants continued, accounting for 20.9 per cent, relative to 21.2 per cent in the previous year.

The data also showed that 86.1 per cent of emigrants belonged to the category ‘non-workers, new workers, homemakers, students and retirees’, a 0.7 percentage point increase when compared with 2016. This category had the highest percentage point increase (6.5) over the last five years.

Within the ‘professionals, senior officials and technicians’ category, there were 356 emigrants in 2017, when compared with the 321 in 2016.

The Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay, St James.

Data on temporary workers from Jamaica to Canada revealed that, similar to previous years, most (83.7 per cent) were accepted for elementary occupations largely due to employment in the farm work programme.

“These workers accounted for the majority of all temporary workers accepted by Canada for the year.

“In addition, 20 ‘skilled agricultural and fisheries workers’ were also included, relative to five in 2016,” the ESSJ noted.

Meanwhile, temporary employment in Canada was also secured for 405 plant and machine operators and assemblers, relative to 580 from this category in 2014, representing a 30.2 per cent decrease.


This was while British citizenship has been granted to Jamaican applicants in four categories: residence, marriage, entitlement or discretionary.

Approximately 45.0 per cent of Jamaicans received citizenship based on residence, while 15.1 per cent received citizenship by way of marriage.

Applicants who received citizenship and were classified in the ‘entitlement’ category accounted for 33.4 per cent, while 7.0 per cent received citizenship based on ‘discretionary’ merit.

Some 20.2 per cent of all successful applications for citizenship were children, with entitlement accounting for 13.4 per cent and discretionary, 6.8 per cent.

Entitlement is based on those applicants who satisfy the conditions specified in the 1981 Act. Discretionary, on the other hand, relates to the success of the application based on the information provided to the Secretary of State.

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