Where Are Indians Migrating to? Looking at Migration Trends

Indian migration- the movement of people from India to other countries- is a vast and complex phenomenon with a lengthy history. There are various reasons why Indians choose to migrate. Some do so for economic reasons, seeking better opportunities in foreign countries. Others flee political persecution or violence, while some join family members who have settled abroad.

The United States is the most popular destination for Indian migrants, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. There are also significant Indian migrant communities in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The impact of Indian migration has been significant in sending and receiving countries. It has resulted in a brain drain in India as many of its most educated and skilled individuals have left. However, it has also led to much-needed remittances, contributing to the Indian economy.

In the receiving countries, Indian migrants have significantly contributed to the economy, culture, and society. They have established businesses, created jobs, and enriched the cultural fabric of their adopted countries. Indian migration is a dynamic and intricate phenomenon, likely to continue growing as more Indians seek opportunities abroad.

The migration of Indians significantly impacts the global narrative, affecting both the sending and receiving countries. Indians lead the way in moving and settling abroad, with a diaspora of 32 million. Of this number, 18.68 million are of Indian origin, while 13.45 million are non-resident Indians. Many countries seek semi-skilled and skilled professionals to address labour shortages, offering them extensive benefits and an improved standard of living. This has led to an increase in people’s desire to migrate.

Recent statistics on Indian migration are as follows:

According to data from the MEA, 788,284 Indians gave up their citizenship in 2021, with the US being the most popular destination. According to recent data, India had 23,533 citizens renounce their citizenship and move to Australia, making it the second most popular destination. Canada came in third with 21,597 citizens, and the UK followed with 14,637. Other popular destinations included Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain.

According to a report by the United Nations, only three of the top 20 countries for international migrants in 2020 were not categorized as high-income or upper-middle-income nations. The US is home to the largest cohort of Indians, with a population of over four million, followed by Gulf countries such as the UAE (3.5 million) and Saudi Arabia (2.5 million).

Highly-Skilled/ Skilled Professionals Target Developed Nations

Many Indians with various skills are attracted to developed countries like the US, Canada, and the UK. These countries offer high-quality living conditions, stable economies, clean environments, and well-established healthcare and education systems. They also have diverse and robust immigration programs and quicker visa processing.

In the post-COVID era, highly-skilled professionals from India are also considering countries like Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Italy, and other EU nations due to their low populations and scarcity of skilled workers. According to the recent Global Wealth Migration Review, Australia is becoming a popular destination for Indian professionals. The immigration system of the country operates based on a points system that seems to favour professionals with high earnings and wealth, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants.

Unskilled/ Semi-Skilled Workers in Gulf and Asian Nations

Many Indians migrate to both developed and developing countries. Still, the majority seek employment in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, West Asian nations, as well as Asian destinations like Singapore and Malaysia. In the Gulf region, around 70% of Indians work as semi-skilled and unskilled workers, while 20-30% are professionals and white-collar workers. Recent reports suggest that more Indians are moving to Saudi Arabia (178,630 in 2022) and Kuwait (71,432), and the UAE continues to be a popular destination with 33,233 Indians.


Indian students studying in economically developed countries often choose to stay and work in the host country after completing their degrees. An INTO University Partnerships survey revealed that almost 80% of Indian students who study overseas plan to work and settle in the country. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development agrees with them, stating that nearly eight out of ten Indian students studying abroad have plans to work and pay in their host countries.

In 2022, over 750,000 Indian students pursued higher education abroad, studying in 240 countries worldwide. Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US are top choices for Indian students, but significant numbers also travel to countries such as Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Russia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Canada hosts the highest number of Indian students, with over 226,450, followed by the US, with 64,300 Indian students in 2022.

The ICE reported that India sent 64,300 students to the country in 2022, accounting for one out of every five US student visas. There are estimated to be over 120,000 students in the UK, while in Australia, there are over 96,000 Indian students.


In 2023, approximately 6,500 individuals in India with an investable wealth of $1 million or more, known as high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), are expected to leave the country based on the 2023 Henley Private Wealth Migration Report. According to the Immigration Experts website, wealthy investors can acquire alternate residency or citizenship in a host country by making a substantial investment through investment migration.

Based on the Henley Private Wealth Migration report, in 2023, Australia, UAE, Singapore, the US, and Switzerland are the top countries that high net-worth individuals prefer to migrate to. Wealthy Indians will likely choose Dubai and Singapore, which offer favourable tax environments, robust business ecosystems, and safe environments, as their top destinations using the golden visa scheme.

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