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Last Updated 22/11/2016

In the last decade there was an increase in the number of people from other countries coming to Northern Ireland to visit, study and work. This has caused curiosity and the potential for misinformation and misunderstanding. This page sets out to provide some basic information about migration.

Why do people migrate?

People have moved from their home countries for centuries, for all sorts of reasons. Some are drawn to new places by ‘pull ‘ factors, others find it difficult to remain where they are and migrate because of ‘push’ factors. These have contributed to the recent movement of people here but are also the reason why people from here have emigrated to other countries. Read more

Migration terminology

Q Who is an immigrant?
A This term has been applied to all people coming into a country, but it is now often applied to people who intend to settle and integrate here, as opposed to being a more temporary migrant. It is important not to view people who are part of long-established minority-ethnic communities and populations as ‘immigrants’. Read more

Inward migration today

There have always been incomers to Ireland, for political, economic and social reasons and in order to find sanctuary; there are just more today. Read more

How many people have come here recently?


It is estimated that around 175,000 long-term international migrants arrived in N Ireland between 2000 and 2014. Of these 143,000 left at some point and 32,000 remained. There are variations towards the end of this period. Because of the financial crisis and recession, between 2009 and 2013 more people left than arrived. There has been a small upturn recently, with 2,237 more people arriving than leaving between July 2013 and June 2014. Read more