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How Covid-19 lockdowns have impacted global migration

By March 24, 2021October 12th, 2023FinGlobal

How Covid-19 lockdowns have impacted global migration

March 24, 2021

With COVID-19 lockdowns, emigrating from South Africa has certainly become more challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic has done a good job of changing normal life as we know it. We’re all wearing masks, sanitising our hands, keeping a safe distance from others, and staying home as much as possible. To the average person, we don’t think beyond these limiting changes, but the pandemic has made changes to other areas of life, including global migration. If you’re thinking about emigrating from South Africa, these changes might impact you personally.


5 Interesting impacts on global migration

Over time, everything changes, including migration. But it must be said that COVID-19 lockdowns have spurred on a quick fundamental change in global migration in 5 specific ways.


How migrant labour works will change

Migrant labourers working in foreign countries have undoubtedly already experienced separation from their families. Even those who have managed to get home during lockdown are worried that instances of working abroad or traveling for work are already drying up. While this is happening, more people are starting to carry out their work functions at home or accept furlough packages in hopes that soon, things will go back to normal. The reality is that most industries are changing.  Business owners are seeing the vulnerability of relying on human-driven workforces and are starting to develop automated systems, making migrant jobs scarce.

Migrant labourers who are overseas on temporary work visas (this is the case for thousands of people in New Zealand) are already being laid off as a result of COVID-19. This paired with the already increasing implementation of automation means that migrant worker job opportunities are drying up and workers already laid off in foreign countries are left stranded.


Inequality is sharply rising

Perhaps inequality is one of the reasons you are emigrating from South Africa after lockdown. If so, this will be of interest to you. Inequality was already an issue long before COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed. Most people aren’t aware that if you combined the earnings of absolutely every woman in Africa, it would still amount to far less than that owned by 22 of the world’s richest men. The pandemic has seen poor countries getting poorer and rich countries finding it harder to provide aid and financial support. The gap or divide that’s always been between the rich and the poor, men and women, and different ethnicities seems to be getting bigger in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns.

How has the lockdown impacted on this? Well, if you take a look at a country like Iran for instance, as a result of the inequalities already in place and the difficulties brought about by lockdowns, hospitals in the country are denying treatment to Afghan migrants. Of course these exacerbated outcomes of inequalities are being seen in various ways in several countries and communities. How does this affect the future of migration? It may be off putting to relocate to certain countries if you feel you may suddenly be discriminated against or find yourself vulnerable when a crises (whether national or global) strikes.


Borders may remain closed to migrant workers (or the rules may get stricter)

With some investigation, you will already note that political leaders who are hard line about restricting migrant workers have received a lot of support. This was the adopted mind set of many countries, even before globalCOVID-19 lockdowns were implemented. Now that lockdowns have slowed the movement of migrants into certain countries and the new rules have made it compulsory to medically test migrants, some country leaders may see this as an opportunity to implemented stronger measures. These measures will keep migrant workers out or incorporate more stringent restrictions. Once these restrictions are in place, it will prove difficult to return to old ways again, making it difficult for people to seek out jobs and new lives in certain foreign countries. Keep this in mind if you are thinking about emigrating from South African after lockdown.


Forced migrants are stuck where they are, at risk

Forced migrants such as refugees and asylum seekers are unable to move to a place of safety during lockdowns, while borders are closed or restricted. Those who have made it to a new country are faced with quarantine periods and a lack of integration or resettlement services while lockdown restrictions are in place. Even the United Nations, in the face of COVID-19 fears, ceased their refugee resettlements on a global scale. With countries and communities fearing that refugees and asylum seekers may bring the virus with them, a more hard line approach is being taken by governments to curb the movement of refugees and asylum seekers into their countries and this approach may continue long after lockdowns are lifted and life goes back to some form of normal.


Illegal migration incidents may increase

The reason forced migrants move into other countries is usually because opportunities and a sense of safety in their own country simply doesn’t exist. Many migrants will follow the correct protocols for relocating to a new country, but with COVID-19 lockdowns in place, these opportunities are few and far between. And when lockdowns are lifted, the world can expect for these migration opportunities to be very limited. The result is that more forced migrants will feel as if they have no choice but to look for ways to migrate illegally or at least try to find a loophole in the system.


Emigrate from South African the right way with help from FinGlobal

If you are interested in emigrating from South Africa and want to ensure that you go about it the right way, without being blindsided by possible changes and restrictions that have emerged as a result of COVID-19 lockdown, contact us at FinGlobal.

At FinGlobal we provide premier advice and guidance to SA expats across the globe. Our main focus is on financial and tax emigration, but we also help expats access the funds in their SA based retirement annuities. Whether you are looking for active assistance with the financial aspect of your emigration, or sound advice from an industry professional, get in touch!



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