Immigration i.e. going to another country to settle there permanently has always been very thrilling. In ancient times people from all over the world were keen to come to India. The Aryans came from Central Europe and settled down in India. The Persians followed by the Iranians and Parsis immigrated to India. The Parsis were one sect who mingled with the Indians like sugar dissolves in mild. Then came the Moghuls and they too settled down permanently in India. Chengis Khan, the Mongolian, invaded and looted India many times. Alexander the Great too came to conquer India but went back after being properly treated by Porus. He-en Tsang from China came in pursuit of knowledge and to visit the ancient Indian universities of Nalanda and Takshila. Columbus wanted to come to India, but instead landed on the shores of America. Vasco da Gama from Portugal came to trade his country’s goods in return for Indian species. The French came to India and established their colonies in India. Lastly the Britishers came to India and stayed in India for nearly 200 years. Those were the golden days of India.

Times have changed now. Today we Indians are eager to migrate to different countries of the world. India, which was once a centre of knowledge and learning and a country of wealth, is today a backward country thus leading Indians to migrate to different countries of the world.

During the British regime and immediately after independence in the year 1947, most Indians were interested in migrating to England and its colonised countries in Africa. This was because the English language had flourished in India to such an extent as to make it easy for Indians to settle down there. When, however, things began to get strict in obtaining entry permits to England, Indians started to migrate to USA. Here too the English language played a major role. Indians normally prefer to immigrate to English speaking countries.

Then the rich Arab countries decided to develop their cities and needed labourers to do so. Therefore, Indians rushed to Arab countries, seeking manual jobs. Indians who migrated to Arab countries were mostly illiterate and unskilled people. Globalisation too made Indians travel to different countries of the world.

The present trend is to migrate to Australia and New Zealand because they have the same advanced knowledge and technology, which is available in USA. Besides this, the official language there is also English.

People from all other third world countries, like the Indians, migrate to UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and other wealthy countries of the world. Almost all third world countries are over populated and poor and therefore lakhs of people try to migrate to affluent countries. As a result, affluent countries receive an increasing number of applications everyday for immigration into their country. To check the quality and quantity of immigrants coming there, these countries are tightening their immigration laws strict day by day. Different countries have different quotas for allowing people to immigrate to their countries. USA, which itself is a country of immigrants has lately become very strict in allowing immigrants to enter their country. It is now a difficult and time consuming process for anyone to immigrate.

People all over the world have heard of the Green Cards of USA. The term “Green Card” is not its official name. it is a common term for what properly is known as an “Alien Registration Receipt Card”. Years ago, these cards were green in colour. Then for a while they were red, white and blue. Today’s Green Cards are actually pink! When you have a Green Card, you are required to make USA your permanent home. A Green Card is merely not a work permit. It identifies the holder as a permanent resident of the USA. A Green Card holder can, after a certain time, apply for US Citizenship.

Largely the categories of immigration are the same in all the countries, but each country has different immigration laws, and different approach towards immigrants. There are six general categories under which a person can immigrate to the advanced countries. They are :

1. Family Immigrants
2. Business Immigrants
3. Investor Immigrants
4. Persons having special skill
or knowledge
5. Job Immigrants
6. Refugees and Political Asylees

The most sought after category of immigration is the family immigration. Any one who has been fortunate to settle down in a foreign country normally sponsors his family members and makes them immigrate to that country. That is why one finds hundreds of Shahs and Patels in UK, USA and Canada. However, all are not fortunate to have their near relatives in a foreign country. To them the best way to immigrate under this category is by way of getting married. If you open any Indian newspaper and see the matrimonial column, you will find a number of advertisements from Indian residents seeking marriage with people having permanent residential status abroad. Many people just get married to a foreigner so that they can immigrate to that country. They have been instances in which fake marriages take place just for the purpose of immigration. Some agencies also arrange such fake marriages. On account of such fake marriages, the US Government was forced to enact the Immigration Marriage Fraud Act in the year 1988.

Business immigrants are less from India since under this category certain minimum qualifications and special knowledge of business are required. In Arab countries, outsiders are prohibited from having their own business unless they have an Arab as partners. Many Indian who have established business in Arab Countries have taken Arabs as partners for this purpose. However, this category of immigrants is also presently on the increase.

Investor immigration is a category of immigration under which if a person invests a particular amount prescribed by that foreign country, he and his family members are allowed to immigrate to that country. The amount of investment is normally very high. Currently for USA, one is required to invest $ US 500,000. Many African-Indians and Indian from Hong Kong have, in the recent past taken advantage of this category of immigration and have acquired immigration status in USA and UK. In USA there are a few companies who assist you to immigrate under this category by advancing loans to you.

Many people acquire immigration status on the strength of having special skills or knowledge. In England you will find many Indian sadhus who have immigrated under this category. Likewise, in USA you will find many astrologers and palmist who have immigrated under this category. If you have any outstanding skill or knowledge or if you are a renowned author like Arundhati Roy or a scientist like the late Homi Bhaba or an artist like M.F. Hussain, then you will be allowed to immigrate under this category.

Most countries have strict restrictions for people wanting to immigrate under the Job Immigrants category. It is obligatory by would be employers in these countries that search should be made within the country to give that job to its own citizen. It is only after the labour board certifies that no person for that kind of job is available in the country that a person from outside the country can be given visa to work there and he/she is granted the job Immigrant Visa. However, a move is on in the USA to increase the quota of professional immigrants visiting USA on H-1 Work Visas, which currently is 65,000 a year. Western countries also give immigration status to refugees and give shelter to people who are politically harassed. Those people applying for refugee status must be out of the country; while political asylees must already be within the country. England has agreed to accept many people from Hong Kong and give them immigration status under the refugee category. Many Sikhs have obtained immigration status in USA and Canada during the time the “Khalistan” movement was being agitated in India. USA has given immigration status to a large number of Koreans, Vietnamese, Phillipinos, Chinese, Japanese and Russians.

People who do not come under any of these categories of immigrations and still desire to immigrate, adopt various illegal method of entering a foreign country. They visit a foreign country as tourists and thereafter stay there as illegal immigrants. This craze to go and settle down in a foreign country is so great that people are prepared to spend huge amounts just to do this. They are also prepared to take risks by traveling in small boats, wandering through jungles and living in the most unhygienic and dangerous conditions. Fake passports are prepared and forged documents made for these purposes. Passports of persons who have a permanent residential status are sold to persons who ‘look alike’. Another method of entering a foreign country is by joining a delegation and obtaining a visa which otherwise would not be granted. Many people join political, cultural, dramatic or religious delegations visiting abroad. They pay huge amounts to the organisers of such delegations to take them along with them as their delegates. Once they reach that country, they separate from that delegation. Such people are popularly known as pigeons.

In India, many drama groups and musical night groups have cropped up whereby people have started to immigrate to foreign countries. on account of such illegal attempts, the USA and UK consulates have become extremely strict now. Before issuing visas to such groups, they ask them to perform the drama or play the music in their embassies to find out whether these delegates are genuine or not.

Those who migrate illegally to foreign countries always live under the fear of being deported. They are also exploited in that foreign country. They cannot work freely and are always underpaid. They are unable to enjoy the benefits, which those wealthy nations provide because they are illegal immigrants and the purpose for which they migrate is therefore not fulfilled. If a person desire to immigrate to another country he/she must do it legally and he/she should avoid the temptation of migrating illegally.