Permanent migration flows to OECD countries declined by more than 30% in 2020, to about 3.7 million – the lowest level since 2003.
In 2019, family migration was at a relatively high level of 1.91 million, representing 36% of total migration flows to OECD, but the pandemic has taken this share down to around 31%. While OECD countries received fewer migrant workers (-24%) in 2020 than in 2019, their share in overall migration flows increased by 1 percentage point to 15%. For example, in the Netherlands, France and Norway, the number of labour migrants shrunk by around a third. In the United States, however, the number of new lawful permanent residents admitted based on work hardly dropped. Seasonal worker migration has continued during the pandemic, whereas other forms of temporary worker migration dropped markedly.
Humanitarian migration flows were severely affected, particularly to the United States and Canada. Free movement and humanitarian migrants were estimated to dwindle from 1.8 million and 0.39 million respectively in 2019 through to 2020.