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HomeTopicsLatin AmericaVenezuelans, Cubans Lead Surge in Asylum Requests to OECD Nations

Venezuelans, Cubans Lead Surge in Asylum Requests to OECD Nations

OECD migration indicators hit record highs in 2022, a year in which over six million new permanent immigrants arrived in the countries of this organization and during which Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans led asylum applications.

Immigration in OECD countries reached unprecedented levels” in 2022 with 6.1 million “new permanent immigrants,” a 26% increase over the previous year, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published Monday.

To this record figure must be added the nearly 4.7 million Ukrainians displaced as of June 2023 in the 38 member countries of the OECD.

On the other hand, asylum applications soared, according to the agency. In 2022, two million new applications were filed, “the highest figure ever recorded,” almost double the previous year and much more than in 2015-2016, when the conflict in Syria generated a wave of exiles to Europe.

Across the OECD, the main countries of origin were Venezuela, with 221,000 asylum seekers, Cuba with 180,000, Afghanistan with 170,000 and Nicaragua with 165,000.

The United States received 730,000 applications in 2022 (compared to 190,000 the previous year), 40% from Cuba and Venezuela, but also largely from Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia.

Costa Rica and Mexico completed the OECD’s top five asylum recipient countries – behind Germany and France – with 130,000 and 120,000 applications respectively, maintaining the upward trend in the demand for international protection in recent years in Central and South America.

In Costa Rica, 92% of asylum seekers in 2022 came from Nicaragua, and in Mexico there was a noticeable increase in applications from Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans.

Labor shortage

Of the 6.1 million new permanent immigrants, the United States welcomed 1.05 million in 2022.

Last year, more than one in three countries recorded flows “not seen in at least 15 years,” including Spain (471,000), France (301,000) or Belgium (122,000), while others such as the United Kingdom (521,000) and Canada (473,000) broke all records, according to data compiled in the document.

Despite these unprecedented figures, “most immigration is regulated, controlled,” starting with that of workers, Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the OECD’s migration division, said.

The number of admissions for international students also reached a record level, approaching two million, almost double the previous year.

This global dynamic is “linked to the fact that many OECD countries suffer from labor shortages,” the organization explained in its report.

In addition, these flows are accompanied by “an improvement in labor market integration conditions,” Dumont added. For example, the employment rate for immigrants “reached the highest level ever observed in all OECD countries,” according to the report.

The document points out that “regulated immigration of foreign workers” accounts for 21% of total flows, and currently represents the same proportion as immigrants for humanitarian reasons.

This percentage is all the more significant given that the increase in family immigration, which remains the main category with 40% of entries, is mainly due “to families accompanying immigrant workers,” the OECD noted.

Last year, according to the organization’s data, almost 80% of immigrants were “active,” with 70% employed and less than 8% unemployed. All these data do not include temporary workers.

The OECD noted that preliminary data for 2023 already point to “a further increase” across all indicators.

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