Immigration law

Immigration law refers to the national statutes, regulations, and legal precedents governing immigration into and deportation from a country. Strictly speaking, it is distinct from other matters such as naturalization and citizenship, although they are sometimes conflated.[1] Countries frequently maintain laws that regulate both the rights of entry and exit as well as internal rights, such as the duration of stay, freedom of movement, and the right to participate in commerce or government.

Immigration laws vary around the world and throughout history, according to the social and political climate of the place and time, as the acceptance of immigrants sways from the widely inclusive to the deeply nationalist and isolationist. National laws regarding the immigration of citizens of that country are regulated by international law. The United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mandates that all countries allow entry to their own citizens.[2]

Control measures

To control immigration, many countries set up customs at entry points. Some common location for entry points are airports and roads near the border. At the customs department, travel documents are inspected. Some required documents are a passport, an international certificate of vaccination and an onward ticket. Sometimes travelers are also required to declare or register the amount of money they are carrying.

Immigration law by country or territory

Countries, citizenship, and immigration law
Country or Area Nationality Immigration Details Changes to immigration law
 US United States nationality law Citizenship is granted after 5 years of permanent residence.
 United Kingdom British nationality law A foreigner may apply for naturalisation after having had indefinite leave to remain for one year in addition to 5 years of residency, or (treaty nationals) may apply after having been resident in the United Kingdom for 5 years. The law has been changed retrospectively in the past and likely to change retrospectively in the future.
 Canada Canadian nationality law
 Australia Australian nationality law
 New Zealand New Zealand nationality law Immigration to New Zealand
 South Africa South African nationality law
  • Immigration to South Africa
  • Illegal immigration to South Africa
Citizenship may be applied for after 5 years of permanent residence.[3]
 Guernsey Guernsey's inhabitants are full British citizens[4]
 Gibraltar None of the overseas territories has its own nationality status, and most residents hold two forms of British nationality: British Overseas Territories citizenship (BOTC) and British citizenship.
 Isle of Man Citizenship is covered by UK law, and Manx people are classed as British citizens.
 South Korea South Korean nationality law Citizenship may be applied upon meeting the requirements for naturalization.
 Hong Kong Immigration to Hong Kong A foreigner who is a Hong Kong Permanent ID Card holder may naturalise as a Chinese national with HKSAR Passport, if applicant: has settle in Hong Kong or Chinese territory; has near relatives of Chinese nationals; and/or other reasons deemed as legitimate.[5]
 India Indian nationality law Illegal immigration to India Citizenship may be granted after 12 years of residence (of which 1 year should be continuous).
 Israel Israeli nationality law
 European Union Citizenship of the European Union Immigration to Europe
 Austria Austrian nationality law Immigration to Austria
 Belgium Belgian nationality law Immigration to Belgium
 Bulgaria Bulgarian nationality law Immigration to Bulgaria
 Cyprus Cypriot nationality law
 Czech Republic Czech nationality law Immigration to the Czech Republic
 Denmark Danish nationality law Immigration to Denmark
 Estonia Estonian nationality law Immigration to Estonia
 Finland Finnish nationality law Immigration to Finland
 France French nationality law Immigration to France
 Germany German nationality law Immigration to Germany
 Greece Greek nationality law Immigration to Greece
 Hungary Hungarian nationality law All immigration is banned. Foreigners can only be temporary expats.
 Ireland Irish nationality law Immigration to Ireland
 Italy Italian nationality law Immigration to Italy
 Latvia Latvian nationality law
 Lithuania Lithuanian nationality law
 Luxembourg Luxembourgian nationality law[6]
 Malta Maltese nationality law Immigration to Malta Until 21 September 1964, Maltese persons held British nationality, as Malta was a British Crown colony.
 Netherlands Dutch nationality law Immigration to the Netherlands
 Poland Polish nationality law
 Portugal Portuguese nationality law Immigration to Portugal
 Romania Romanian nationality law Immigration to Romania
 Slovakia Slovakian nationality law
 Slovenia Slovenian nationality law Immigration to Slovenia
 Spain Spanish nationality law Immigration to Spain
 Sweden Swedish nationality law Immigration to Sweden
 Singapore Singaporean nationality law Immigration to Singapore
 Norway Norwegian nationality law Immigration to Norway A minimum of 7 years are required for citizenship.

Immigration visa categories by country or territory

This section is an attempt to classify and bring together information about immigration legislation on a number of countries with high immigration.

Regular immigration visa categories
Country / territory Employer-Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessperson, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse By birth (foreign national parents) Studying as a migration route
 US Through H1B lottery, many applicants failed to receive a settlement after 6 years and had to leave the country. EB-1 Extraordinary Ability – for internationally recognized scientists, sportsman etc.[7] EB-5: minimum investment of $500,000. PhDs are generally allowed to apply for an employer-independent EB2 visa Automatic citizenship
 United Kingdom Tier 2 – settlement (ILR) after 5 years. A limit on number of Tier 2 migrants per year coming from outside the country was introduced by new government which makes it more difficult to find an employer willing to sponsor the visa if applying from outside the UK. (Practically not available since April 2011)

Tier 1 General – settlement (ILR) after 5 years. A limit on 1000 Tier 1 migrants per year introduced by new government. Besides that the migration legislation changes on average every six months which makes Britain not attractive for skilled migrants looking for a second nationality.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Tier 1 Investor There is no specific category here but it is easier for universities (as opposed to businesses) to acquire a Tier 2 sponsorship licence. ILR is provided after 5 years in marriage or partnership and living in the country. British citizenship can be obtained as a right for anybody who was born in the UK before 1983. After 1983, it can only be obtained by birth if at least one parent was settled there. It is also available as of right for people of whom one parent is a British citizen otherwise than by descent."[8] All other classes of British Nationality do not confer right of abode in the UK to the holder. Tier4 Full-time students at university education are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week. Others are allowed to work up to 10 hours per week. After 10 years of continuous presence in the country on residential visas ILR is provided. There is a cap on the duration of staying in the country on a student visa.
 Canada[9] Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW)[10][lower-roman 1] Available.[11] The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for skilled workers who want to become permanent residents based on their qualification in a skilled trade. Skilled trades for the Program are organized under these NOC groups:[12]
  • industrial, electrical and construction trades
  • maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • processing, manufacturing, and utilities supervisors, and central control operators
  • chefs and cooks
  • butchers and bakers
Business people[lower-roman 2] can enter and work in Canada if they qualify under one of the following:[13] To work in Canada as an investor, one must:[13] meet any other rules of CUSMA; have a work permit; and be involved in planning either a) a large amount of trade in goods or services, mainly between Canada and their home country; or b) a large investment in Canada by that person or their company. Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Eligible persons can sponsor their spouse or partner to become permanent residents, but must be able to:[14]

  • support them financially; and
  • ensure they don’t need social assistance from the government
One does not automatically have Canadian citizenship if they were born outside Canada to Canadian parent(s) on or after 17 April 2009, but neither were born or naturalized in Canada[15] International students may be able to fall under several categories of permanent residence, including the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Provincial Nominee Program.[16]
 Australia Available[17] Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189)and Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
 New Zealand Available
 South Africa Corporate worker permit.


General work permit, Quota work permit, exceptional skills work permit and Intra-company transfer work permit.[19] Business permit. Minimum foreign capital investment ZAR 2,5 Million into book value of business which may be reduced on application. Minimum of 5 South African citizens/residents to be employed.


See Business permit.


No specific category. May fall under Exceptional Skills or Quota work permit.[22] Spousal visa. Proof of cohabitation and shared finances.


Not applicable. Children born in South Africa to foreign nationals will obtain the same status as their parents. Study is viewed in isolation in relation to the course of study. No benefits obtained promoting continued stay.
 Isle of Man Similar to British Tier1 General, but does not lead to EU nationality Similar to British Tier1 Entrepreneur, but does not lead to EU nationality
 South Korea If you have lived more than 5 years under a D-7, D-8, D-9, E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, E-7 or F-2 visa.[24] If you have internationally recognized extraordinary ability in science, business, culture, sports or education. If you are over 60 and receive income via pension from overseas.[24] If you invest $2 million. If you invested only $500,000, you need to stay more than 3 years on a D-8 visa. If you invest $500,000 in real estate of Jeju, Incheon Free Economic Zone, Busan's Haeundae, Pyeongchang or Yeosu, you are given a F-2 residence visa and 5 years later, F-5 permanent residence.[25] If you have a PhD in a high-tech field and are employed by a Korean firm, earning 4 times the average GNI in Korea. If you only have a bachelor's in a high-tech field or a recognized technical certificate issued in Korea, you need to have stayed for at least 3 years and earn 4 times the average GNI in Korea.[24] If you have stayed in Korea for more than 2 years under a F-2 visa and are the spouse of a Korean or foreigner with a F-5 permanent residence visa. If you were born to parents who are stateless or were found abandoned within the territory of South Korea as a child, you will automatically get Korean citizenship.
 Hong Kong General Employment Policy (GEP); will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong. General Points Test (GPT) Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES); you need to invest HK$10 million except on real estate;[26] will receive ROA in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong. Passing GPT within Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)[27] Person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong of foreigner with HK Permanent ID Card, will receive ROA in Hong Kong, but not Chinese nationality.[28]
 Israel Not available
 European Union Varies by member state Blue Card (European Union)
 Austria May be available in the future, called Rot-Weiß-Rot-Card
 Cyprus It is considered to be very unlikely to get nationality through work route Not available
 Czech Republic Not available
 Denmark Available: Danish Green Card
 France Not available
 Germany Not available
 Ireland Not available Available
 Netherlands Highly-skilled migrant' visa: available only for employers to apply on employee's behalf. Employer must be recognized as a sponsor by IND. Specific salary requirements apply.[29] Zoekjaar ('search year') visa: a one-year visa available to all students who recently graduated from a university or a college. No other requirements (e.g. sponsor/employer).[30] A visa is available for self-employed people. Granting of such is determined based on innovative nature of your business, which must be assessed by a certain agency (RVO).[31] Citizenship or permanent residency can be applied for after 3 years in marriage or partnership with a Dutch national and living in the country.[32] No provision to grant citizenship based on country of birth is available. At least one parent must be a Dutch national. Prior to January 1, 1985, child's father must have been Dutch for the child to get Dutch citizenship.[33]
 Spain Not available
 Sweden [34] [35]
 Norway Min 4 years
Country or Area Employer Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessperson, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse By birth while both of parents are foreign nationals Studying as a migration route
Irregular/special immigration visas
Country or Area Illegal Migrant Special arrangements
 US Green Card Lottery
 United Kingdom After 20 years of continuous illegal but proven presence in the country ILR is provided. Treaty nationals may enter the UK to work, provide services or self-employment or study or reside there as self-sufficient migrant.

Some commonwealth citizens have right of abode in the UK, which, for most practical purposes, gives them the same rights as British Citizens in the UK.

 New Zealand
 South Africa Arrest, detention, court to decide on outcome.[36]
 Isle of Man
 South Korea If you previously had Korean nationality or either of your parents or grandparents had Korean nationality in the past, you are immediately eligible for a F-4 visa, a practically permanent residence visa that is renewable every 2 years.[37] If the Korean government recognizes that you made an important contribution to the nation, you are eligible for F-5 permanent residence.[24]
 Hong Kong Mainland China issued a daily quota of 150 One Way Permits to mainland Chinese for Hong Kong settlement;[38] will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong; plus the right to apply for a HKSAR Passport.
 Israel Law of Return
 European Union
 Czech Republic
 Germany There are programs for Continental Refugees and Repatriates but the rules are severely tightened to prevent as little new migrants as possible to benefit from them.
 Netherlands After 5 years of continuous residence and sufficient integration.[39]
 Poland [40]
 Romania Special arrangements for citizens of Moldova
 Norway Citizens of other Nordic Council countries may naturalise after a two-year residence

General guidelines by country or territory

Country / territory Requirements and restrictions Employed dependants Social benefits Deprivation of nationality Forgoing other nationalities required for naturalization? Deprivation of original nationality for those who naturalise in foreign countries?
 US The dependant of a resident visa holder may not work. No No, but foreign earnings are liable to taxation.
 United Kingdom Before settlement: No more than 180 days spent overseas within 5 years, no more than 90 days per trip.

After settlement: Settlement would be cancelled after a certain number of days spent abroad. A single parent may immigrate if one is the sole supporter.

The dependant of a resident visa holder is allowed to work. Before settlement: No access to public funds.

After settlement: Accessible.

Dual nationals may be deprived of their nationality for engaging in terrorism. No No
 Canada No
 New Zealand
 Israel [41] Yes, unless citizenship obtained by Law of Return
 Germany Yes, unless the prior nationality held was one of the European Union, Norway, or Switzerland; or if the applicant cannot approach the authorities of their previous country for reasons of personal safety. Yes, unless the nationality acquired is one of the EU, Switzerland, or Norway; or if the applicant obtained permission from the German government prior to submitting an application for naturalisation.
 Ukraine Yes
 Norway Legitimately naturalised persons can be deprived of their nationality. Yes, unless the applicant cannot approach the authorities of their previous country for reasons of personal safety, or if the authorities demand a fee considered too high. Yes
 Russia Yes No
 Azerbaijan Yes
 China Yes Yes
 Denmark Yes
 Japan Yes Yes
 India Yes

See also


  1. "immigration". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2022-11-20.
  2. United Nations. 1966. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 12(4).
  3. "Permanent Residence Permit South Africa - Legal Migration Services". Archived from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  4. "British Nationality Act 1981",, The National Archives, 1981 c. 61
  5. "Application for Naturalisation as a Chinese National - Immigration Department". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  6. "Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes // Le gouvernement luxembourgeois". 1 May 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  7. "United States Visa: EB1 Green Card Priority Workers". Archived from the original on 2017-01-29. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  8. British Nationality Act 1981, s2(1)(a), subject to s14
  9. "Working temporarily in Canada". 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  10. "How do I hire a temporary foreign worker?" Government of Canada. 2020 January 30. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  11. "Immigrating to Canada". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  12. "Eligibility to apply for the Federal Skilled Trades Program (Express Entry)." Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2020 September 3. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  13. "Business people." Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2020 July 2. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  14. "Sponsor your spouse, partner or child: about the process." Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2020 September 9. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  15. "See if you may be a citizen." Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2020 July 15. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  16. "I am an international student in Canada. How can I apply to become a permanent resident?" Immigration and Citizenship. Government of Canada. 2020 January 30. Retrieved 2020 November 30.
  17. "". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  18. "General Work Permit South Africa - LISSA - Legal Immigration Service SA". Archived from the original on 18 January 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  19. "Department of Home Affairs - Critical Skills Visa". Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  20. "Business VISA South Africa - LISSA". Archived from the original on 18 September 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  21. About Business Permits in South Africa Archived 2013-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  22. "Exceptional Skill for Scientists or PhD's in SA". Archived from the original on 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  23. Spouse Visa or Spouse Permit Archived 2013-08-24 at the Wayback Machine
  24. "hsmgo2014님의블로그 : 네이버 블로그". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  25. "'영주권에 시세 차익은 덤?'…빈틈 많은 투자 이민제". 이데일리. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  26. FAQ New Amendments to the Rules for Capital Investment Entrant Scheme Archived 2012-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
  27. "The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Immigration Department". Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2007-02-19.; will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong.
  28. "Apply for Right of Abode in Hong Kong - Immigration Department". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  29. "Highly skilled migrant | Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)". Archived from the original on 2017-10-25.
  30. "Looking for a job after study, promotion or research | Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)". Archived from the original on 2018-08-24.
  31. "Self-employed person | Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)". Archived from the original on 2019-07-23. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  32. "Naturalisation: Exceptions to the 5-year term".
  33. "Dutch citizen by birth or acknowledgement".
  34. "Working in Sweden – Migrationsverket". 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  35. "Self-employed from countries outside the EU – Migrationsverket". 2012-02-21. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  36. All about South African Legal Immigration Service Archived 2013-09-12 at the Wayback Machine s
  37. "Immigration Bureau". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  38. "LCQ17: One-way Permit". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  39. "Sorry, something went wrong".
  40. Репатриация в Польшу. Новый закон о репатриации, права репатрианта в Польше – официальная информация (in Russian). Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  41. "Решение об отмене израильского гражданства и как с этим бороться". 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-04-01.


  1. To hire a Temporary Foreign Worker, employers must first find out if they need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which verifies that there is a need for the job that is being offered and that there is no Canadian worker available to do it. If an LMIA is not needed, the employer must submit an offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The employer must then have the worker apply for a work permit.
  2. Defined by the Government of Canada as those who "come to do business under a free trade agreement."
  3. Such as the Canada–Chile FTA, the Canada–Peru FTA, the Canada–Colombia FTA, or the Canada–Korea FTA
  • Citizenship Laws of the World – the most comprehensive although a little bit outdated report by United States Office of Personnel Management Investigations Service PDF, copy: PDF
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