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How to Remember When to Use Emigrate vs. Immigrate

“Emigrate” and “immigrate” are two words that are often confused. They are not only very similar words in spelling and pronunciation, but their meanings are very closely linked too.

Milena Lazova
Milena Lazova

“Emigrate” and “immigrate” are two words that are often confused. They are not only very similar words in spelling and pronunciation, but their meanings are very closely linked too. They both refer to moving to or from a country, but you may be surprised to know that the two terms are actually opposites.

Immigration vs. Emigration

Firstly, the verb “to emigrate” means to leave one’s native country. Therefore emigration is the departure of emigrants from their homeland.

On the contrary, the verb “to immigrate” means to move to another country. Consequently, immigration refers to the arrival of immigrants in a country that is foreign to them.

The word to describe both immigrants and emigrants is “migrant.” A migrant is somebody who moves from one place to another, usually to find a job. People may migrate temporarily, for example, seasonally, while immigrants and emigrants move permanently. Immigrants have different statuses depending on their situation: They can be permanent residents who can live and work in their new country, conditional residents who must meet certain conditions in order to stay in a country, or undocumented immigrants who have entered the country without seeking the necessary permission to do so.

Immigration and Emigration: Example Sentences

Lucy emigrated in 1990, and she hasn’t been home to Australia since.
I immigrated here to give my family a better life.
They emigrated because they couldn’t find work in their motherland.
We immigrated to Spain because of the hot weather, cheap cost of living, Mediterranean food, and laid-back lifestyle.
Emigration is rising because unemployment rates are high, and there aren’t enough jobs available.
Immigration rates increase in times of crisis, such as when war breaks out, or a natural disaster in a nearby country.
Marcus is an immigrant. He emigrated from his home country and came to the US to find work.

Famous Immigrants

  1. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein emigrated from Germany as a child. His family immigrated to Switzerland. He later immigrated to the United States.
  2. Jackie Chan emigrated from his native Hong Kong in the 1970s. He immigrated to Canberra, Australia, where his father had moved for work.
  3. Freddie Mercury emigrated from Zanzibar, now Tanzania, along with his family. They immigrated to the UK in 1964.
  4. Rita Ora emigrated from Kosovo. Her family immigrated to the UK.
  5. Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State in the US. She emigrated from her native Czechoslovakia and immigrated to the US in 1948.
  6. The current Dalai Lama emigrated from Tibet when he was forced to flee during the uprising in 1959. He immigrated to and found exile in India.The best and most straightforward way to remember the difference between these two words is that one immigrates to and emigrates from a country.
EnglishWhich is correct

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.