Illegal Immigration around the World: 13 Countries Compared to the United States


We have gathered data on illegal immigration in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and the United States. We included all of the countries we could find with at least three years of illegal immigration data between 2000 and 2010.

While the statistics for the United States and Turkey only include illegal immigration, the 12 other countries listed measure "irregular immigration," which combines people living in the country illegally with people working in the country illegally (whether they are legal residents).

"Irregular immigration" is a term used by the organization CLANDESTINO, which is the European Union-funded, multi-nation consortium designed to provide data on "unauthorized migration" to EU members. The term includes what people in the United States largely consider illegal immigration: 1. "Seemingly regular registered foreign nationals with falsified papers"; 2. "Children without resident status"; 3. "Aged family members without resident status"; 4. "Unemployed foreign national without resident status"; and 5. "Foreign nationals without residence status in regular tax-paying jobs." "Irregular immigration" also includes people who reside in the country (legally or illegally) and who are working illegally: 6. "'Tourists' from non EU countries in irregular unregistered jobs"; 7. "Foreign nationals without residence status working in irregular unregistered jobs"; 8. "Foreign nationals with residence status and without work permission, in irregular unregistered jobs"; and 9. "Foreign nationals with residence status and work permission, in irregular unregistered jobs."

Because the "irregular immigration" statistics include illegal immigration and for purposes of roughly comparing the United States to other nations, we have shown illegal immigration statistics alongside irregular immigration statistics. All estimates are rough estimates and each country may count, estimate, or calculate the numbers using different methods. Some countries have different sources for different years, which may account for some unusual variation. Population ranges and corresponding percentages for individual countries were averaged in the summary chart below.


  People in the country illegally,
as % of population
Country 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
United States flag UNITED STATES 3.0 2.7 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.5 3.9 3.9 3.8 3.5 3.8
AVERAGES FOR 13 COUNTRIES LISTED BELOW 0.54 0.45 0.59 0.77 0.80 0.74 1.5 1.06 1.0 1.04 1.30
austria flag AUSTRIA -- 0.97 0.89 0.74 0.77 0.60 0.55 0.52 0.43 -- --
czech flag CZECH REPUBLIC 2.22 0.38 0.32 0.32 0.26 1.29 0.11 0.07 -- -- --
france flag FRANCE -- -- -- -- -- 0.49 -- -- 0.17 0.12 0.09
german flag GERMANY 0.11 0.11 0.11 1.03 0.50 0.33 0.35 0.40 0.37 0.29 0.31
greece flag GREECE -- 0.36 -- -- 2.07 0.18 0.67 2.30 2.22 2.99 3.49
hungary flag HUNGARY 0.19 0.16 0.16 0.13 0.13 0.18 0.16 0.27 0.15 -- --
italy flag ITALY -- -- 1.20 -- -- 0.92 1.10 0.60 1.10 -- --
netherlands flag NETHERLANDS 0.55 0.61 0.65 0.47 1.07 0.54 -- -- -- -- --
russia flag RUSSIA -- -- -- -- -- -- 8.79 4.21 2.81 -- --
slovakia flag SLOVAKIA 0.23 0.39 0.43 0.56 0.78 -- -- 0.32 -- -- --
spain button SPAIN -- 0.62 1.40 2.80 1.98 2.80 1.70 0.81 0.72 0.75 --
turkey flag TURKEY 0.14 0.14 0.12 0.08 0.09 0.08 0.09 -- -- -- --
united kingdom flag UNITED KINGDOM 0.34 0.74 -- -- 0.36 0.77 -- -- 1.03 -- --


Austria flag button
AUSTRIA
  2001 2008
# of irregular immigrants
78,000 36,000
Population of country (in millions) 8.04 8.34
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.97% 0.43%

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Irregular Migration in Austria," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2009
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
2002
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 50,000 - 80,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 70,000 - 100,000
Population of country (in millions) 8.08
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.61 - 0.86% (minimum)
0.99 - 1.24% (maximum)

Sources:
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
IOM International Organization for Migration, "Illegal Immigration in Austria," www.irregular-migration.net, Nov. 2005
2001 2002* 2003* 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 39,456 29,660 80,000 28,934 30,934 25,174 22,906 22,981 18,439
# of irregular immigrants (central estimate) 77,572 58,312 56,886
70,000
62,980 49,506 45,442 43,243 36,252
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 115,687 86,964
100,000
84,837 95,027 73,838 67,978 63,504 54,064
Population of country (in millions) 8.04 8.08 8.12 8.17 8.23 8.27 8.30 8.34
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.49 -
1.43%
0.37 -
1.07%

0.99 - 1.24%
0.36 -
1.04%

0.86%
0.35 -
1.16%
0.31 -
1.15%
0.28 -
0.82%
0.27 -
0.77%
0.22 - 0.65%

* Note: This source gave two sets of minimum and maximum numbers for 2002 and two sets of central numbers for 2003.

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimates for Austria," www.irregular-migration.net, Oct. 16, 2009
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Oct. 2009



czech republic flag button
CZECH REPUBLIC
"Estimating the size and composition of irregular migrant population has never been the main research topic of any survey conducted in the Czech Republic since 1990s. Most of published estimates were rather 'guesstimates' not based on a reliable method, neither with a clear definition of the target group, nor with a fixed time frame. The range of estimates, thus, varied from about 17,000 to 300,000 irregular migrants living in the Czech Republic."

Source:
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Sep. 2009
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
# of irregular immigrants 53,116
295,000
335,000
39,399 32,205 32,475 26,129 14,545
250,000
10,793 7,549
Population of country (in millions) 10.27 10.24 10.20 10.21 10.22 10.24 10.27 10.33
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.52%
2.87%
3.26%
0.38% 0.32% 0.32% 0.26% 0.14%
2.44%
0.11% 0.07%

Note: The numbers above represent only those "persons apprehended for illegal migration," which includes illegal border crossing (including by Czech citizens) and illegal stay.

Souces:
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Sep. 2009
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013



france flag button
FRANCE

2005
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 200,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 400,000
Population of country (in millions) 60.77
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.31 - 0.64%

Sources:
CIA, "CIA World Factbook," www.cia.gov, 2013
CLANDESTINO, "Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimates for France," www.irregular-migration.net, Nov. 11, 2009

2008 2009 2010
# of irregular immigrants 111,670 76,355 56,220
Population of country (in millions) 64 64.35 64.69
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.17% 0.12% 0.09%

Note: The figures for 2008-2010 above are only those undocumented migrants caught in the country, sourced by several government departments.

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Databases on Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
Eurostat, "Population at 1 January," www.epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu, 2012



german flag button
GERMANY
"Current estimates on the stock of irregular immigrants in Germany range from 100,000 to 1 million persons. This difference presented in officical documents underlines that there is no authoritative assessment available which can claim general credibility."

Source: Norbert Cyrus, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2009
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
# of irregular immigrants 49,231 93,973 101,852 110,208 102,941 100,578 90,531 92,777 94,023 89,935 76,223
Population of country
(in millions)
81.33 81.53 81.82 82.01 82.06 82.04 82.16 82.26 82.44 82.54 83.53
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.06% 0.11% 0.12% 0.13% 0.12% 0.12% 0.11% 0.11% 0.11% 0.11% 0.09%

The figures for 1993-2003 above represent irregular immigrants apprehended at the border. A statistical subtracting method was used by the study authors to further reduce those numbers to account for double counting by the authorities of the same persons being arrested twice. These figures represent a "barebones" minimum, and it is likely the numbers are much larger as the authorities cannot apprehend everyone.

Sources:
Norbert Cyrus, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2009
DeStatis Statistiches Bundesamt, "Population," www.destatis.de, 2013
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
# of irregular immigrants
(minimum estimate)
1,000,000 62,825
81,040
500,000
64,247
49,196
280,000
64,605
240,000
200,000 180,000 140,000 100,000
# of irregular immigrants
(maximum estimate)
1,500,000 1,000,000 680,000 560,000 450,000 420,000 330,000 400,000
Population of country (in millions) 82.53 82.50 82.44 82.32 82.22 82.00 81.80 81.75
% of population that is irregular immigrants 1.20 - 1.80% 0.08 - 1.20% 0.08 - 0.82% 0.078 - 0.68% 0.24 - 0.55% 0.22 - 0.51% 0.17 - 0.40% 0.12 - 0.49%

Source: CLANDESTINO, "Database on Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012



greece flag button
GREECE
"The main difficulty in the study of stock and profiles of illegal immigration concerns documentation. Most of the existing methods of estimation regarding illegal immigration make use of various data sets stemming from different sources (administrative sources, such as ministries and local authorities, statistical services, border and police control). However the precision and reliability of such methods are in serious doubt. The difficulties derive from the fact that illegal immigration, due to its clandestinity, can only be measured indirectly through the traces illegal immigrants leave in the labour market, borders control, domestic police controls, etc. Thus, these data sets can be used only as an indication of the extent of illegal immigration and do not account for a precise measurement."

Source: European Migration Network, "Practical Measures for Reducing Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
2007
# of irregular immigrants 481,501
Population of country (in millions) 11.19
% of population that is irregular immigrants 4.30%

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2009
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
# of irregular immigrants 19,519 75,053 142,015 249,108 337,163 443,800
Population of country (in millions) 11.10 11.15 11.19 11.24 11.28 11.32
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.18% 0.67% 1.27% 2.22% 2.99% 3.92%

Sources:
European Migration Network, "Practical Measures for Reducing Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
2001 2004* 2007* 2010 2011
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 40,000 30,000
230,000
260,000
280,000
172,000
350,000 390,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) -- 330,000
300,000
209,000 -- --
Population of country (in millions) 10.95 11.06 11.19 11.32 11.30
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.36% 0.27%
2.07 - 2.98%
2.35 - 2.71%
2.50%
1.54 - 1.87%
3.09% 3.45%

* Note: This source gave three minumum numbers and two maximum numbers for 2004, and two minimum numbers for 2007.

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimates for Greece," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2, 2012
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013



hungary flag button
HUNGARY
2007*
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 10,000
30,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 20,000
50,000
Population of country (in millions) 10.06
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.10 - 0.20%
0.30 - 0.50%

* Note: This source gave two sets of minimum and maximum numbers.

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimates for Hungary," www.irregular-migration.net, Oct. 16, 2009
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
2008
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 10,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 20,000
Population of country (in millions) 10.04
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.10 - 0.20%

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Nov. 2008
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
# of irregular immigrants 15,764 22,906 19,213 19,717 15,976 15,976 12,990 13,103 18,294 16,508
Population of country
(in millions)
10.29 10.27 10.24 10.21 10.19 10.16 10.13 10.11 10.09 10.07
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.15% 0.22% 0.19% 0.19% 0.16% 0.16% 0.13% 0.13% 0.18% 0.16%

Note: The numbers above are the "[n]umber of migration related border apprehensions including foreigners and citizens of the reporting country, 1997-1006."

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Nov. 2008
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013



italy flag button
ITALY

2002 2005 2006 2007 2008
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 702,156 -- -- -- --
# of irregular immigrants (central estimate) -- 541,000 650,000 349,000 651,000
Population of country (in millions) 57.00 58.50 58.80 59.10 59.60
% of population that is irregular immigrants 1.20% 0.92% 1.10% 0.60% 1.10%

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Databases on Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
Istat.it, "Population and Households," www.istat.it./en/, Mar. 14, 2013



netherlands flag button
NETHERLANDS
"No institution in the Netherlands is specifically engaged in collecting statistical data in relation to illegal immigration, as this information is simply not available. Information obtained from the police hoever (the number of people stopped and questioned in connection with illegal residence) is regarded as the best indication to be used in research into the nature and extent of this phenomenon. The estimated combined figure that includes both non-Western and European illegal aliens comes to between 125,000 and 225,000 illegal aliens annually."


Source: European Migration Network, "Illegal Resident Third Country Nationals in the EU Member States: State Approached Towards Them and Their Profile and Social Situation," www.irregular-migration.net, Sep. 2005
2004
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 125,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) 225,000
Population of country (in millions) 16.28
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.77 - 1.38%

Sources:
European Migration Network, "Illegal Resident Third Country Nationals in the EU Member States: State Approaches Towards Them and Their Profile and Social Situation," www.irregular-migration.net
, Sep. 2005
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
2000* 2001* 2002 2003 2005
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 71,578
72,629
46,500
77,973
77,721 60,469 62,320
# of irregular immigrants (central estimate) 84,523
91,788
80,000
117,373
104,990 77,077 88,116
# of irregular immigrants
(maximum estimate)
97,467
110,948
115,600
156,772
132,262 93,684 113,912
Population of country (in millions) 15.93 16.05 16.15 16.23 16.32
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.45 - 0.61%
0.46 - 0.70%
0.31 - 0.72%
0.49 - 0.97%
0.48 - 0.81% 0.37 - 0.58% 0.38 -0.69%

* Note: This source gave two sets of minimum, central, and maximum numbers for 2000 and 2001.

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimate for Netherlands," www.irregular-migration.net, Oct. 16, 2009
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013



russia flag button
RUSSIA
"Russia is primarily a destination country for irregular migrants; secondly, a transit state for those on their way to Western and Central Europe... The major route of irregular migrants arriving in Russia is through the southern borders--the states of Central Asia and Trans-Causasus."

Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM), "Migration in the Russian Federation: A Country Profile 2008," www.publications.iom.int, 2008
"Estimating the scope of illegal migration to Russia, however, has been difficult. Arriving at a meaningful definition of who is an illegal immigrant is even harder in Russia then [sic] elsewhere because of the legal status of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose confederation of 12 former Soviet countries."

Source: Timothy Heleniak, "Migration Dilemmas Haunt Post-Soviet Russia," www.migrationinformation.org, Oct. 2002
2006 2007 2008
# of irregular immigrants 10-15,000,000 5-7,000,000 4,000,000
Population of country (in millions) 142.20 142.20 142.20
% of population that is irregular immigrants 7.00 - 10.50% 3.50 - 4.92% 2.81%

Sources:
Federal State Statistics Service [Russia], "Population," www.gks.ru, 2012
International Organization for Migration, "Migration in the Russian Federation: A Country Profile 2008," www.iom.int, 2008
RIANOVOSTI, "Russia's Population Down 0.39% to 142.2 mln in 2006," www.en.rian.ru, Feb. 21, 2007




Slovakia flag button
SLOVAKIA
"The Slovak Republic does not collect data on the total number of irregular migrants residing in the territory of the SR. There are only gross estimates in this area, and no in-depth research on these issues has been conducted so far."

Source: Andrea Mrlianova, Natalie Ulrichova, and Monika Zollerova, "Practical Measures for Reducing Irregular Migration in the Slovak Republic," www.irregular-migration.net, Nov. 2011
"[T]he data on stocks of irregular migrants in Slovakia are practically not collected/generated/provided by any institution. This face may be considered one of the gravest methodological problems and much aggravates conducting reserach on the topic. That is why we have to be satisfied with rough estimates with a high potential risk of error. In addition, these estimates vary to a large extent. We have also to realise that Slovakia has still been more a transit than a destination country for undocumented migrants (though this has begun to change after Slovakia's accession to the Union...)."

Source: Boris Divinsky, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Date and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Dec. 2008
1998 2000 2001* 2002* 2003 2004 2007
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) 8,000 12,500 15,000
12,900
20,000
10,500
20,000 42,000 15,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) -- -- 35,000 40,000 40,000 -- 20,000
Population of country (in millions) 5.39 5.39 5.38 5.38 5.38 5.38 5.40
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.15% 0.23% 0.27 - 0.65%
0.24%
0.37-0.74%
0.19%
0.37 - 0.74% 0.78% 0.28 - 0.37%

* Note: This source provided a set of numbers for 2001 and 2002 as well as an additional minimum number for those years (12,900, and 10,500).

Source: Boris Divinsky, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Date and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Dec. 2008


spain flag button
SPAIN
"Spain is unique in Europe as regards the data on the number of immigrants since irregular immigrants register voluntarily. Thus, we can compare the number of aliens registered with those aliens with residence permits and obtain the number of irregular immigrants. All estimates about the size of irregular immigration in Spain are based in the comparison between these two sources."

Source: Carmen Gonzalez-Enriquez, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncoutable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, Jan. 2009
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
# of irregular immigrants
(minimum estimate)
-- -- -- 691,655 -- -- 280,000 300,000 300,000
# of irregular immigrants
(maximum estimate)
250,645 572,551 949,881 998,031 1,203,751 747,014 438,092 353,927 390,000
Population of country
(in millions)
40.48 40.96 41.66 42.35 43.04 43.76 44.47 45.28 45.83
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.62% 1.40% 2.80% 1.60 - 2.30% 2.80% 1.70% 0.63% - 1.00% 0.66 - 0.78% 0.65 - 0.85%

Source:
CLANDESTINO, "Databases on Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
Eurostat, "Population at 1 January," www.epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu, 2012



turkey flag button
TURKEY
"Due to its geo-political location, Turkey lies on a major migration route with a significant number of irregular immigrants coming from the East trying to cross Turkey towards the wealthy Europe."

Source: Alin Chindea, "Migration in Turkey: A Country Profile 2008," www.publications.iom.int, 2008
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
# of immigrants in the country illegally(minimum estimate) 94,514 92,365 82,825 56,219 61,228 57,428 64,290
Population of country (in millions) 67.80 64.54 65.45 66.34 67.24 68.14 69.06
% of population that is immigrants in the country illegally 0.14% 0.14% 0.12% 0.08% 0.09% 0.08% 0.09%

Note: The above numbers represent apprehensions of immigrants without proper documentation at the border, not a methodological estimate of all undocumented migrants in the country.

Sources:
Google Public Data, "Population," www.google.com/publicdata, Jan. 17, 2013
Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Turkey's Fight Against Illegal Migration," www.mfa.gov.tr, 2011
Turkish Statistical Institute, www.turkstat.gov.tr
, accessed Mar. 14, 2013



uk flag button
UNITED KINGDOM

2000 2001 2004 2005 2008
# of irregular immigrants (minimum estimate) -- 310,000 -- 120,000
515,000
417,000
# of irregular immigrants (central estimate) 200,000 430,000 216,850 240,000
670,000
618,000
# of irregular immigrants (maximum estimate) -- 570,000 -- 380,000
870,000
863,000
Population of country (in millions) 58.89 59.11 59.84 60.24 61.39
% of population that is irregular immigrants 0.34% 0.5 - 1.00% 0.36% 0.20 - 0.60%
0.86 - 1.40%
0.70 - 1.40%

Sources:
CLANDESTINO, "Database on Irregular Migration," www.irregular-migration.net, 2012
Migration Watch, "The Illegal Migrant Population in the UK," www.migrationwatchuk.org, July 28, 2005
Office for National Statistics, "Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland," www.ons.gov.uk, 2012
Bastian Vollmer, "Undocumented Migration: Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends Across Europe," www.irregular-migration.net, July 2009
Jo Woodridge, "Sizing the Unauthorised (Illegal) Migrant Population in the United Kingdom in 2001," www.webarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk, May 29, 2001



United States flag
UNITED STATES
For more information on illegal immigration in the United States, see "Illegal Immigration, Population Estimates in the United States, 1969-2011."