What is what? – Expat or Immigrant? 4 Types of “Immigrants”

What is the difference between an Immigrant and an Expat? We examine four types of definitions of people that come under this definition of “immigrant”.


Voluntary immigrants:
 those that leave their country of origin to find employment, economic opportunity, advanced education, marriage, or to reunite with family members that have already immigrated.

Refugees: those who have been involuntarily displaced by persecution, war, or natural disasters.

Asylum seekers: those who willingly leave their native country to flee persecution or violence.

Sojourners: those who relocate to a new country on a time-limited basis and for a specific purpose. It is important to note that this group fully intends to return to their native country.

These would include the term “expats”, “missionaries” and “military kids”.

Third Culture Kids

So where do “Third Culture Kids” come from?

They can come from any of these type of immigrants. Furthermore, often, many of these type of immigrants may consider themselves Third Culture as circumstances and exposure to other cultures may have caused them to adopt or adapt other cultures into their cultural identity.

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