irregular migrationLast updated
“Irregular migration” is the process by which individuals enter, reside in, or are employed in a transit or host state, outside the laws and regulations that govern entry into and residence in that state. A migrant can be said to enter, reside in, or be employed in a country “irregularly.”
In the United States, “irregular” is the equivalent of “illegal,” which may be the more commonly used term, though “irregular” avoids implying criminality, which can be stigmatizing.
Per the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, irregular migration can encompass trafficking victims, refugees, and unaccompanied migrant children.
- Why “undocumented” or “irregular”? (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
“Irregular migration” refers to migration that is also described in the United States as “illegal,” though “irregular” avoids suggesting criminality.