According to the Economic and Social Survey of 2019 from the Planning Institute of Jamaica, almost 300,000 Jamaicans left the country during the decade from 2008 and 2018. The survey found that 282,549 Jamaicans emigrated to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada during the decade. No figures were available for Jamaicans who emigrated to other countries.
Seventy-nine percent of the migrants, or 222,000 individuals, moved to the US, while ten percent, or 28,000, went to the UK, and 31,500, or 11 percent, went to Canada. The year 2016 saw the highest number of Jamaicans emigrating with a total of 29,223 leaving the home island. The lowest migration rate during the ten-year period occurred in 2015 with 22, 835 individuals leaving Jamaica.
In 2018, which was the latest period to be recorded, emigrants from Jamaica who received permanent residency visas or citizenship in their chosen destination countries were estimated at a total of 27,783, a 1.4 percent increase in those granted permanent residence or citizenship compared to 2017, which saw a total of 27,387.
The US was the destination of choice for Jamaicans in 2018 compared with Canada or the UK, but the figures showed that there was a 7.1 percent reduction in the number of Jamaicans granted visas for permanent residency there compared to a year earlier, or 29,347 and 21,905, respectively. When analyzed by category, the report found that “immediate relatives to the US” and “family-sponsored preferences” were the major categories receiving admission to the country. “Employment-based preferences” was the third most common category. The report did not provide information about the age, sex, or occupational status of Jamaican migrants.
The number of Jamaican migrants to Canada granted permanent residency in 2018 rose by 1.2 percent over the previous year to a total of 3,875. The largest number of Jamaicans, 646, granted permanent resident status that year were aged between 30-34 and accounted for 16.7 percent of those approved. This represented a 7.7 percent rise in emigrants to Canada compared to a year earlier.
Applicants for British citizenship received approval chiefly in the categories of residence, marriage, entitlement, or discretionary. The number of Jamaicans granted citizenship varied between 2014 and 2018, however. A total of 3,561 Jamaicans received citizenship in 2018, or over twice the number recorded in 2017. Most British citizenship applications were granted on the basis of “residence,” which 69.8 percent found in that category, and “entitlement,” or 17.2 percent. About 10.1 percent of citizenship applicants were granted that status in the category of “marriage,” and the category of “minor children” represented most of those receiving citizenship based on “entitlement.”
The report also found that the number of Jamaicans returning home voluntarily in 2019 totaled 721, which was a reduction of 1.4 percent over the total in 2018 at 731. Data collected for the five years between 2015 and 2019 indicated a decline in number of returnees of 15.6 percent from the 854 measured in 2015 to the 721 numbered in 2019. Most returning residents, or 55.5 percent, came from the US. Just over 18 percent returned from other countries, and 14.1 percent came from the UK. As usual, Canada accounted for the lowest percentage.
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