The immigration decision triggers many challenges, and you have to manage the resulting effects carefully. We discuss the most common issues, as well as how to identify your personal top 10 issues to manage during and after immigration.
The most common three reasons for migration, legal or otherwise, are to escape persecution or conflict, find refuge after an environmental disaster and to escape poverty.
However, this discussion is concerned with the voluntary, informed and well-planned immigration decisions, of people who have the means to begin a new life in another country.
Immigration is a common occurrence. The world’s foreign-born population, which is the number of people living in a country they were not born in, is about 244 million. That vast number, however, does not imply that immigration is devoid of challenges.
I would suggest that the starting point of an immigration decision is honest introspection. Investigate your reasons for wanting to immigrate, and ensure that you understand your partner’s point of view too.
Apart from the reasons as such, critically evaluate your personality to determine how easily you will adapt to the changing circumstances. In addition, consider the personalities of your partner, and those of the children, if applicable.
Immigration is a costly exercise, so a careful analysis of your financial position, both the current and the expected future position, is required.
Next to soul searching, good preparation is required to set you up for a smooth immigration experience.
The hardest part of preparation is not getting documents ready or selling the house. It is the intangible preparation by reading about and researching your host country. From its history, through to its customs and cuisine. It is trying to imagine everyday life, visualising how the family will settle down. This is what will facilitate your assimilation into a new culture.
“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality” – Eliyahu Goldratt
I am surprised, almost on a weekly basis, about the questions people ask on forums or Facebook groups. Moreover, I am surprised at the timing of the questions. Many of these questions start like this: “We are arriving in Panama next month, so need help with…” Very often, these questions are not about trivial things; they are about important issues, such as where to live and where to find schools!
I cannot help but think that such people should rather reconsider immigration. You are not doing anybody any favours by being blasé about it.
Immigration is a number of major life events rolled into one. Let me explain.
We all experience the so-called life events, such as starting school, starting university, finding a job, losing a job, buying a house, selling a house, separation from family or divorce.
During the immigration process, you will likely experience four or five of these life events, and sometimes it could feel like they are happening simultaneously.
Regardless of preparation, there will be testing times
Murphy is alive and well, and living exactly where you are about to emigrate to! And his law is as valid as it has always been.
As part of your preparation, ask yourself a few what-if questions. By discussing these scenarios and possible options with your partner, or just contemplating various alternatives, you will subconsciously prepare for that inevitable curve ball.
50+ things to consider
The Canadian immigration-consulting firm, IMMIgroup, has listed what they believe to be the ten most common immigration issues:
- Access to services (specifically healthcare)
- Cultural differences
- Children adjusting to their new environment
One of those issues, namely cultural differences, needs special attention. It is a single concept that includes a number of aspects, including social customs, attitudes towards gender, religious diversity and ethnicity.
Because of its complexity, it is difficult to manage and can contribute significantly towards culture shock.
At Travel Hippi, we have gone a step further, and compiled an e-guide “50+ Things To Consider Before Immigration”. You can download a PDF version of the guide to read at your convenience.
The guide is not another checklist. Instead, its purpose is to promote thinking, introspection and further research. Its design prompts your reasoning without being prescriptive about your decisions.
How to identify your personal issues
The guide will trigger lots of thinking, but as you can expect, not all of the issues will be equally important. In fact, some of the aspects may not be relevant to you at all.
The question is, how to identify your top 10 issues?
When you download the e-guide, you will have access to an interactive worksheet that will reveal your top 10 immigration issues. Although a short tutorial is included, it is very user-friendly.
When using the questionnaire, you do not have to answer the questions about all the aspects – you only have to cover those aspects that you think could affect your immigration. For example, if you are a retiree, you can probably skip the aspect of schooling. Unless of course, you have children of school going age.
Regardless of the number of aspects you choose to cover, the worksheet will reveal your top 10 issues. It also allows you to go back a step and adjust your answers.
I have a suggestion for couples: before sharing your results with your significant other, ask him or her to complete their own first. Then compare the results. The difference in results can be a revelation.
Focus on a top few
Before narrowing down the number of issues you want to focus on, try to reconcile the two sets of results. Then you can move on to select the critical issues.
The worksheet’s ranking mechanism is quite sensitive, and an aspect’s score will give you a clear indication of its importance, relative to the others.
You will have no or little control over some aspects, while others can be managed actively. By focussing on the latter, on just a few critical aspects, you will be able to prepare as best you can.
“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation” – Robert H Schuller
I would love to have your thoughts on identifying the top 10 issues to manage during and after immigration.
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