New research analyzes impact of migration in Trinidad and Tobago

IOM Development Fund

Trinidad and Tobago - A research study conducted by the ACP Observatory on Migration, implemented by IOM and presented this week in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital Port of Spain, analyzes how recent migration flows to and from the Caribbean nation have affected the development of the country and the migrants themselves.

Becoming an Immigration Magnet: Migrants’ Profiles and the Impact of Migration on Human Development in Trinidad and Tobago examines the profiles of immigrants, emigrants and returned migrants and investigates the effects of migration on areas including migrants’ incomes, development of skills, family structures, remittances, life satisfaction and attitudes regarding social values and human rights.

The study found that immigrants from developing countries moved to Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) for employment, while citizens of T&T moved to countries in the North to improve their standard of living and gain qualifications.

Although the report emphasizes the many positive impacts of migration for migrants themselves, it raises questions about the loss of skills when migrants leave the country, as well as the amount of remittances transferred to T&T.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Trinidadians tend to move to countries in the North to improve their standard of living and gain qualifications – 65.9 per cent live in the United States; 18.1 per cent in Canada; 8.4 per cent in the United Kingdom; and 1.3 per cent in Jamaica.
  • 57.7 per cent of Trinidadian migrants obtained certifications and qualifications while living abroad.
  • The flow of remittances to T&T is one of the major benefits of migration to local households. But the study found that 29.4 per cent of respondents admitted to sending remittances only “in emergencies or on special occasions.”
  • Immigrants move to T&T mainly from developing countries in search of employment or to study. The majority are from the region – 21 per cent from Guyana and 22 per cent from CARICOM Member States.  But others arrive from as far away as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Philippines, and South Africa. 62.7 per cent of immigrants reported having higher standards of living in T&T than they had in their home countries.

The study confirms that migration has had a positive impact on national development, mainly in the form of monetary injections from remittances, as well as goods sent to family members who remain behind, and the new skills, qualifications and certification that returned migrants bring home.

The study points to weak migration policies and proposes a number of recommendations to facilitate the migratory process and maximize the positive impacts of migration on development. These include:

  • The establishment of a government department or agency to deal exclusively with migrant issues.
  • The formulation of a clear legal framework to protect migrant workers, based in the constitution of T&T.
  • The establishment of an inter-agency mechanism for migrant service delivery and the creation of an efficient, affordable “one-stop shop” approach to pre-departure preparation for emigrants.
  • The establishment of a database of information to inform migrants what is needed for entry into T&T.

The ACP Observatory on Migration produces and collects data on South-South migration in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries for use by academia, governments, policy makers, migrants, civil society and the general public. It is an initiative of the ACP Secretariat, funded by the European Union, implemented by IOM with the financial support of IOM and the IOM Development Fund, the United Nations Population Fund and Switzerland.  The Observatory currently operates in 12 pilot countries.

To view the complete report please visit:

Two previous ACP reports on migration in T&T are also available: 

  1. Invisible immigrants: A profile of irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons in Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Human mobility in the Caribbean: Circulation of skills and immigration from the South

For more information, please contact

Jewel Ali
IOM Port of Spain
Tel: +1 868 623 2441 Ext 13138/9 or + 1 868 627 6969