Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Expat or Immigrant?

So what's the difference between an expat and an immigrant?  Both terms apply to people who live outside of their native country.  An expatriate, or expat for short, is usually someone living and/or working in a foreign country, usually temporarily and for work reasons.  Most of the time, expats either return to their native country, or move on to another, but not always.  When I would hear "expat" I would immediately think of American authors James Baldwin or Ernest Hemingway living in France.  

This blog is "Christopher's Expat Adventure" because I came to Brno for a two to three year gig with the intention of going back to the USA.  Then after five years I got permanent residency which meant that I could stay in Czechland without having to continually apply for new visas every couple of years.  In my head I was still an expat.

An immigrant, just like an expat, is a person who lives and/or works in a foreign country.  Usually with the intent to remain for good and not return back to their home country.  Now that I'm going to apply for Czech citizenship I suppose that I'm officially an immigrant.  Or am I an expat until I get Czech citizenship?

Quite often it seems that the difference between an expat and immigrant comes down to race, social class, economic status and country of origin.  Expats tend to describe usually white, educated, financially well off professionals working abroad while people working in less prestigious positions are immigrants or even migrant workers.  A well educated person from North Africa working in Europe would more likely be considered an immigrant rather than an expat.

Someone from the Philippines working as a maid in Hong Kong would not be considered an expat.  She most likely wouldn't even be an immigrant but rather a migrant worker.

During the migrant crisis I remember talking to my friends and mentioning that I too was an economic migrant in Europe.  They simply told me that I was the good kind of migrant.  Hmmm...  Yet I still remember that anti-imigrant flyer I received by Zeman supporters.

There are an estimated 6,32 million Americans and 4,7 million British expats living overseas.  I don't know about the British but the majority of Americans living abroad are in Canada and Mexico.

Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, and Singapore are the top five countries with the highest percentage of foreign workers based on their total populations.

Back in 2018, foreigners in here in Czechland made up about 4,7% of the population.  The top three groups coming from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Vietnam.  Brno was home to more than 30.000 foreigners from 150 countries.

In Brno there are around 40.000 Slovaks but I don't think that Czechs really consider Slovaks as foreigners.  For one thing, Slovaks do not have to register for residence like other EU citizens here on work contracts.  So skipping the Slovaks, the biggest groups of foreigners in Brno come from Ukraine, Russia, Vietnam, Romania, India, and Turkey.  All of the American expats are in Prague.

According to the "Brno Expat Survey" that was conducted in 2019 here are some details about the typical Brno expat.

I came to Czechland as an expat and ended up an immigrant.  Hopefully I'll get Czech citizenship and become an American Czech in Brno.

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