Migrant groups are diverse, and may have social, cultural and health needs. Migration is driven by numerous reasons (including economic, family reunion, study, humanitarian reasons or human trafficking). As a consequence migrants may experience several diverse health and social care needs.
Migrant populations experience different health and wellbeing issues depending on lifestyle risk factors, cultural practices, country of origin, genetic and hereditary factors and wider determinants (poor housing, lower economic opportunities, unemployment and living in deprived areas). Poverty, isolation and discrimination lead to poor health outcomes (especially for mental health).
The UN Convention on the Rights of Migrants defines a migrant worker as a "person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.". From this a broader definition of migrants follows:
"The term 'migrant' in article 1.1 (a) should be understood as covering all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of 'personal convenience' and without intervention of an external compelling factor."
This definition indicates that 'migrant' does not refer to refugees, displaced or others forced or compelled to leave their homes. Migrants are people who make choices about when to leave and where to go, even though these choices are sometimes extremely constrained. Indeed, some scholars make a distinction between voluntary and involuntary migration. While certain refugee movements face neither external obstacles to free movement nor is impelled by urgent needs and a lack of alternative means of satisfying them in the country of present residence, others may blend into the extreme of relocation entirely uncontrolled by the people on the move.
A refugee is a person who:
'owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country'
Source: Article 1, 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for protection through the legal process of claiming asylum and is waiting for a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee. In other words, in the UK an asylum seeker is someone who has asked the Government for refugee status and is waiting to hear the outcome of their application.