It’s believed that there are now up to 100 million people dotted around the planet who have migrated from their country of birth to another. With such a large number, it’s clear there are as many different experiences as there are reasons for moving in the first place. What are a few of the key psychological factors that most people have to face up to in this process?
The fears and anxiety provoked by the paperwork
Getting the paperwork in order to start a new life can be a huge challenge in some cases, while for other immigrants it’s merely a troublesome matter to get out of the way as quickly as possible. How difficult it is to sort out a visa usually comes down to nationality and the immigration laws currently in place in the country they plan to move to.
If we look at the example of Ireland as a destination, this immigration solicitors Ireland site states that the complexity of the law means that a specialist can be chosen to act as a legal representative as well as an advisor. They confirm that naturalization by residence can be claimed by someone who has spent five of the last nine years in Ireland, and who has been there continuously throughout the last year.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the USA requires a visa for anyone who plans to enter the country, except those visitors from countries that form part of their Visa Waiver Program. Someone planning to live there needs to get an immigrant visa, which usually involves finding someone to sponsor them. Around a million people enter the US as permanent residents each year, with a Green Card often issued after a long waiting period and a lot of anxiety.
Culture shock and settling into a new culture
After arriving in a new country, there are likely to be some hurdles such as culture shock. This is the feeling of confusion or anxiety that generally hits people when they leave their comfort zone to live in a foreign country. Making new friends and being open-minded can help a newcomer to get through this period, although it also takes time to fully accept a new culture.
Culture shock is typically divided into four stages, known as honeymoon, frustration, adaptation, and acceptance, respectively. Some people find it easier to settle in when there is a large community from their home country to turn to, but others prefer to immerse themselves in the new culture immediately and try to make friends as soon as they can.
Dealing with what they left behind
Depending upon the reasons for leaving home, there may be a need to deal with the issues that they left behind. This could include anxiety resulting from money worries, loneliness because they’ve left family members behind, or trying to come to terms with some sort of traumatic incident that caused them to leave their country.
Each immigrant has a unique experience, but by making an attempt to understand the psychological issues involved in the process of moving to a new county, it can become a less stressful and more rewarding journey.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.