Beyond Borders: The Causes and Solutions to Irregular Migration

Self-employment and entrepreneurship offer some of the most potent solutions to the global surge in irregular migration. In fact, empowering communities through self-employment may as well break the chains of illegal migration.

Among the major factors that drive irregular migration mostly from the poor south to the rich north is a desperate desire to seek better economic opportunities. These include better-paying jobs and improved standards of living.

Helping people looking for greener pastures abroad by any means possible to create their own economic opportunities at home through self-employment may just be the best way to solve the illegal migration puzzle.

This is because self-employment together with small business ownership has been known as a force for changing lives economically. That is when it is deployed to unleash the dormant potential of desperate aspiring migrants.

In this post, therefore, I will discuss ways in which self-employment can be a tool for curbing unnecessary irregular migration.

I will also demonstrate how self-employment and entrepreneurship can shift minds away from perilous journeys across unending deserts and vast oceans to starting and growing prosperous ventures at home.

Look out for additional solutions to the problem of irregular migration.

Table of Contents

Something Better Than Irregular Travel Overseas

Are you looking for reasons why it may be better to hold back from crossing international borders, stay back in your country and make do with what you have rather than embark on a risky journey overseas?

Maybe you have decided to be part of those who want to help tackle the problem of irregular migration and its associated problems.

Find below the key points that offer some of the best solutions to irregular migration.

But we need to start with a clear understanding of some key terms here. So here we go.

What is migration?

Migration refers to the process of people moving from one place to another with the intention of establishing a new, usually permanent, residence. This movement can occur within a country (internal migration) or across national borders (international migration).

Migration has always been an integral part of human history. And it is still a daily phenomenon in the modern world.

What is irregular migration?

Irregular or illegal migration is the act of crossing international borders or residing in a country without proper authorization. It is migration that violates the destination country’s immigration laws and regulations.

Put differently, irregular migration involves people attempting to enter or stay in a country through unofficial, undocumented, or unauthorized means, bypassing official immigration procedures.

Examples of Irregular Migration

There are many types and examples of irregular migration. Here are a few.

  • Crossing national borders without valid entry visas or travel documents.
  • Overstaying a visa or permit and remaining in a country beyond the authorized period.
  • Entering a country through unauthorized entry points. This may involve crossing fences, deserts, or rivers without going through border checkpoints.
  • Ganging up with human smugglers or traffickers to facilitate illegal entry or transit.
  • Working without proper work permits or authorization in the destination country.
  • Residing in a country without any legal status. Such people are often referred to as undocumented or illegal immigrants.
  • Utilizing fraudulent or forged documents to gain entry or residency.

Regular Migration vs Irregular Migration

Let’s establish a distinction between illegal or irregular migration and legal or regular migration. Since you already know what irregular migration is, I will quickly give you the meaning of regular migration.

Regular migration involves individuals entering a country through authorized channels with valid visas, permits, or immigration status.

The Major Causes of Migration

Migration can be driven by various push and pull factors. For the purpose of this post, however, I want us to focus more on the push factors that drive irregular migration in particular.

These are factors that make individuals take the decision to embark on very dangerous journeys to other countries far from home.

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Economic Reasons

People often move to seek better job opportunities, higher wages, or improved living conditions.

Social and Political Factors

Conflicts, wars, persecution, discrimination, or political instability in a region lead people to migrate.

Environmental Factors

Natural disasters, climate change, or ecological challenges can force people to leave their homes. Such migrants do so in search of safer and more sustainable living conditions.

Family Reunification

Individuals may migrate to be with family members who have already moved to another location.

Better Education and Career Opportunities

Students and professionals might migrate to access better educational institutions or job prospects in different places.

Barriers to Regular Migration

For us to adequately discuss the solutions to irregular migration, it is necessary to find out why the phenomenon exists. To some extent, the obstacles to the lawful movement of migrants across borders, contribute to irregular migration.

So the first question to answer is this: What do we mean by barriers to regular migration?

Barriers to lawful or regular migration refer to the obstacles and challenges that individuals may face when attempting to migrate legally to another country.

These barriers can vary significantly depending on the immigration policies and laws of the destination country. Some of the common barriers include the following.

Visa Restrictions

Immigration authorities in many countries require individuals to obtain specific visas or permits to enter, work, study, or reside within their borders. Obtaining these visas can be a complex and time-consuming process.

Typically, it involves multiple requirements and documentation.

Limited Quotas

Some countries have annual quotas or limits on the number of immigrants they accept. This makes it difficult for individuals to secure a spot even if they meet all the necessary criteria.

High Visa Application Fees

The cost of applying for visas, permits and other immigration processes can be prohibitive for many potential migrants. This is particularly so for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Stringent Eligibility Criteria

Governments may set strict requirements for migrants, such as specific job skills, education levels, language proficiency, or family connections, making it challenging for some individuals to meet these criteria.

Lengthy Processing Times

The application and approval process for immigration can be lengthy and uncertain, causing delays and uncertainty for potential migrants.

Age Restrictions

Furthermore, some countries have age limits for certain immigration categories. This may exclude older or younger individuals from eligibility.

Health Status Requirements

Immigration authorities often have health checks and medical requirements that applicants must meet. This constitutes yet another barrier especially where a person has certain medical conditions.

Criminal Record Checks

Criminal records can impact an individual’s eligibility for immigration in many countries, especially for certain visa types.

Geographical Barriers

The geographical distance between countries can limit opportunities for legal migration.

Diplomatic Tensions

Nationals of countries whose governments are not on good terms find it more difficult to travel to the unfriendly country. This may be due to their governments taking hostile diplomatic measures to restrict travel and communications.

Limitations on Family Sponsorship

Family reunification is a common pathway for migration. However, it can be limited by factors such as income requirements or restricted family relationships.

Language Barriers

Some countries may require proof of language proficiency. This too can be challenging for migrants from non-English-speaking countries, for example.

Employer Sponsorship Requirements

Certain immigration routes may require sponsorship by an employer, making it difficult for individuals without job offers in the destination country.

Causes of Irregular Migration

It is important that we identify the major causes of irregular migration. This is the best way to find lasting solutions to the problem.

Some migrants have to resort to illegal ways to travel abroad because, somehow, all the avenues to do so in a legal manner have been denied them.

Thus, the above barriers to lawful migration contribute to irregular or unauthorized migration.

However, illegal or irregular migration is driven by a combination of complex factors. These often push individuals to undertake risky and unauthorized journeys to enter or stay in a country.

The factors can vary depending on the specific circumstances in the migrants’ countries of origin and the destination countries.

Let’s have some of the major drivers of irregular migration.

Economic Factors

Economic disparities between countries can motivate people to seek better job opportunities, higher wages, and improved living standards in more prosperous countries. Limited economic prospects in their home countries may lead individuals to resort to irregular migration as a means of survival or improving their lives.

Poverty and unemployment are among the most common drivers of migration. For example, in regions with high levels of poverty and limited employment opportunities, individuals may feel compelled to migrate irregularly in search of better prospects abroad.

Conflicts and Political Instability

Armed conflicts, civil wars, and political instability can displace large populations and force people to flee their homes, seeking safety and stability in other countries.

Lack of Legal Avenues

Strict immigration policies and limited legal migration options can leave individuals with no viable alternatives but to pursue irregular migration to reach their desired destinations.

The Need for Family Reunification

Some migrants are driven to reunite with family members who have already migrated, and if legal channels are restricted or slow, they may resort to irregular means to achieve reunification.

Environmental Problems

Climate change and environmental degradation can contribute to the displacement of populations as resources become scarce, making irregular migration a last resort for survival.

Gang Violence

In areas plagued by gang-related violence victims are forced to flee from those who may target them and their loved ones.

Different Forms of Persecution

In countries where individuals face persecution due to their ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs, people may seek refuge through irregular migration.

Activities of Smuggling and Trafficking Networks

Criminal networks that profit from human smuggling and trafficking exploit vulnerable individuals by promising them safe passage and opportunities in destination countries.

Perceived Leniency in Enforcement

Perception of lenient immigration enforcement or the existence of “sanctuary” policies in certain countries may encourage people to attempt irregular entry, believing they will not be deported or detained.

Corruption Among Enforcement Officials

When immigration officials and embassy personnel in either the origin country or the destination country have their integrity compromised through corrupt practices such as bribery, it opens the door for a lot more people to try to find illegal means of migrating.

Social Media Networks

Word-of-mouth information from friends and family members who have successfully migrated irregularly can lead others to follow suit, creating a chain migration effect.

Difficulty with Finding Alternative Options

For some individuals, irregular migration becomes the last resort when faced with dire circumstances and no other viable solutions.

Lack of Awareness

Some people join the illegal migration bandwagon because they are unaware of certain things associated with international migration.

Being ignorant of any one of the following has made many people decide to travel abroad.

  • Existing, but not-too-obvious economic opportunities at home
  • Dangers of travelling without the right documents
  • The real dire conditions in the destination country
  • Their own potential to work and escape poverty at home
  • The amazing opportunities offered by the digital revolution to practically anyone in the world

Before we discuss the possible solutions to irregular migration, let’s take a brief look at the dangers such migrants face.

The Dangers of Irregular Migration

Illegal or irregular migration poses numerous risks to the individuals attempting such journeys. These dangers can vary depending on the specific route, destination, and methods employed during the migration process.

Some of the major risks involved in illegal or irregular migration include the following.

Physical Danger and Health Risks

Migrants often undertake perilous journeys, crossing dangerous terrains, deserts, or seas with inadequate or unsafe transportation.

They may face extreme weather conditions, lack of water and food, and exposure to criminals, armed gangs, and diseases, resulting in injuries, illness, or even death.

Exploitation and Abuse

Migrants, especially those who employ the services of human smugglers, can become vulnerable to various forms of exploitation and abuse.

Smugglers may demand exorbitant fees, subjecting migrants to debt bondage.

Migrants may also face physical and sexual violence during their journey or upon arrival at the destination.

Detention and Deportation

If caught by immigration authorities in the destination country, irregular migrants face the risk of detention and subsequent deportation to their countries of origin.

Detention conditions can be harsh. Detained immigrants often lack access to quality healthcare and legal representation.

Loss of Documentation

Irregular migrants often discard or lose their identification and travel documents during their journey.

This tends to create additional difficulties in proving their identity and obtaining protection or assistance.

Victims of Human Trafficking

Some irregular migrants fall victim to human trafficking. Traffickers coerce and lure them into forced labour, sexual exploitation, or other forms of servitude.

Exclusion from Social Services

In destination countries, irregular migrants may be afraid to seek proper medical or social services. This is due to their illegal immigration status.

Xenophobic Attacks and Discrimination

Irregular migrants may face xenophobia and discrimination from both national authorities and the local population. One result is that they become vulnerable to exploitation and further marginalization.

Separation from Family

The journey of irregular migration may involve leaving family members behind or getting separated during the journey.

This situation can cause feelings of nostalgia, emotional distress and uncertainty about their well-being, especially when conditions become unbearable.

Legal Consequences

In addition to deportation, irregular migrants may face legal consequences and criminal charges for immigration violations in the destination country.

Unemployment, Poverty and Homelessness

In an ironic turn of events, some irregular migrants end up in a worse economic state than they were back in their home countries.

This happens because even if successful in reaching the destination country, irregular migrants may encounter difficulty finding legal employment.

Mental Health Problems

The stress and trauma of the migration journey and the challenges faced in the destination country can lead to mental health problems among irregular migrants.

Practical Solutions to Irregular Migration

It is now time for us to find possible solutions to irregular or illegal migration, especially from the less developed south to the developed north.

Addressing illegal migration requires a multifaceted approach. It must involve comprehensive national policies and cooperation between countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Here are some key solutions to combat irregular migration.

Friendlier Legal Regime

One of the most effective solutions to irregular migration is the creation of a more friendly legal environment for potential migrants.

Creating more accessible legal migration channels can help reduce the incentive for individuals to resort to illegal means of travelling abroad.

Simplifying visa processes, expanding family reunification programs, and offering opportunities for skilled workers are effective ways to provide viable alternatives.

Addressing Root Causes

An effective antidote to irregular migration is identifying and dealing with its root causes.

Tackling the underlying drivers of migration, such as poverty, unemployment, conflict, and political instability, is crucial.

Investing in economic development, education, healthcare, and conflict resolution can help create conditions that reduce the need for people to migrate illegally.

Enhanced Border Security and Cooperation

Destination countries that are serious about finding solutions to irregular migration

need to increase security along their borders.

Affected countries must work together to strengthen border controls. They must engage in intelligence sharing to prevent irregular border crossings and disrupt human trafficking networks.

Tackling Human Trafficking

Further, governments must enforce laws against human trafficking. They must provide support and protection to victims. These are essential measures that will disrupt trafficking networks that exploit irregular migrants.

Creation of Public Awareness

Public education remains one of the best solutions to irregular migration.

Educational campaigns in countries of origin can raise awareness about the risks and dangers of illegal migration. Such programs must also inform potential migrants about available legal migration options.

Also, governments and other stakeholders must educate the public on the hidden economic opportunities in the countries of origin.

Regional and International Cooperation

Cooperation between countries is essential if we really want to find lasting solutions to irregular migration.

Joint efforts in information sharing, law enforcement, and support for migrants can help manage migration more effectively.

Regularization Programs

Some countries have implemented regularization programs that provide a pathway for undocumented migrants to gain legal status.

Such programs can help integrate migrants into society and reduce their vulnerability to exploitation.

Integration Policies

Implementing integration policies in destination countries can help assimilate irregular migrants into society. It will give them access to basic services, language training, and education opportunities.

Addressing Employer Demand

Governments must take steps to reduce the demand for undocumented labour. For example, enforcing penalties for employers who hire illegal workers can help deter illegal migration.

Temporary Work Programs

Establishing temporary work programs can offer opportunities for seasonal labourers to work legally in destination countries. This will help reduce the incentive for illegal migration.

Self-Employment As a Solution to Irregular Migration

Amidst all these challenges lies a potential solution that can alter the course of this narrative.

Here is a critical question we need to address as we approach the end of this discussion about the solutions to irregular migration:

Can self-employment help solve the problem of irregular migration?

Yes, self-employment can play a significant role in addressing the problem of illegal migration. The reason is that self-employment is capable of providing individuals with economic opportunities and alternatives in their home countries.

Creating an environment that supports self-employment and entrepreneurship can help reduce the motivation for people to migrate irregularly in search of better economic prospects.

Welcome to the world of self-employment and entrepreneurship! It is definitely an area that holds the promise of empowerment, economic independence, and lasting change.

You are about to discover the role self-employment can play in addressing the root causes of illegal migration.

We will uncover how promoting entrepreneurship can bring hope, prosperity, and stability to the lives of individuals and their communities. So keep reading.

Job Creation

Self-employment allows individuals to create their own businesses and generate jobs for themselves and others in their communities.

By starting small businesses, people contribute to the local economy and provide employment opportunities. This will help in reducing unemployment and poverty – two major drivers of illegal migration.

Economic Empowerment

Self-employment is one of the best solutions to illegal migration because empowers individuals to take control of their economic futures and become more self-reliant.

It enables them to improve their living conditions, access better education and healthcare, and invest in their communities.

Diversification of Economic Activities

Supporting self-employment can lead to the diversification of economic activities in regions with limited employment opportunities.

This diversification will create a more resilient local economy. This will reduce overreliance on a single industry or sector.

Ability to Work Remotely

In today’s digital economy, self-employed individuals like bloggers, freelancers, and e-commerce store operators are earning full-time incomes.

This digital workforce is able to work and earn the most valued foreign currencies without necessarily migrating to places like the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.

An incentive to Stay

When individuals have the means to earn a decent living and support their families through self-employment, they are more likely to choose to stay in their home countries.

Many are likely to choose this route over the risky option of irregular migration.

Entrepreneurial Training and Support

Providing training, mentorship, and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs can help them develop their business ideas. It will, in turn, improve their chances of success.

Further, this support can foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, encouraging more people to explore self-employment opportunities.

Reducing Brain Drain

Brain drain, where highly skilled individuals emigrate to seek better opportunities elsewhere, can be reduced by promoting self-employment.

By creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship, skilled individuals may be more motivated to stay and contribute to their home countries development.

Self-Employment Initiatives to Combat Irregular Migration

We need proactive strategies if we want to employ self-employment as one of the most decisive solutions to irregular migration.

Practical examples of self-employment initiatives that will help address the issue of illegal migration include the following.

Microfinance Programs

Microfinance institutions provide small loans and financial services to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. These are people who may not have access to traditional banking services.

These loans help them start or expand their businesses. Besides fostering economic growth such loans help in reducing the need to migrate for economic reasons.

Business Incubators and Accelerators

These programs support and mentor startup businesses, helping them develop and grow. By nurturing local entrepreneurs and their enterprises, these initiatives create sustainable job opportunities,

This is another way to encourage people to stay and invest in their communities.

Vocational Training and Skill Development Programs

Providing vocational training and skill development in areas where there is a demand for specific expertise can empower individuals to start businesses in those fields.

For instance, training in agriculture, healthcare, or technology-related skills can lead to self-employment opportunities in rural areas.

Support for Women Entrepreneurs

Initiatives that empower women to start and manage their own businesses can have a positive impact on reducing illegal migration.

By increasing women’s economic independence and opportunities, these programs contribute to more inclusive economic growth.

Training in Digital Technology, Digital Publishing and Digital Marketing

The coming of digital technology has taken self-employment to a whole new level. Now, people sit at home with a simple laptop or smartphone connected to the internet and run very profitable online businesses.

The problem is that so many people are still ignorant about the amazing job opportunities waiting for them online. This is where training and awareness creation regarding digital technology come in.

With the right skills in such areas as online publishing and digital marketing, many people will no longer see the need to travel abroad in order to earn good money and improve their economic circumstances.


It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to irregular migration. The effectiveness of the measures we’ve been looking at so far depends on different factors. Key among them are political will, international cooperation, and the specific context of each origin and destination country.

Addressing irregular migration requires a holistic approach that involves comprehensive policies and cooperation between countries of origin, transit, and destination.

And amidst all these, upholding the rights and dignity of migrants must remain paramount.

Above everything else, self-employment and entrepreneurship can serve as effective solutions to irregular migration. They have proven to be effective in creating economic opportunities, reducing poverty and unemployment, and encouraging individuals to stay and invest in their home countries.

There is no doubt in my mind that when all stakeholders back these measures with the right resources and policies, self-employment will significantly mitigate the challenges posed by irregular migration.

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