“Immigration” is a hot topic in the news these days. A country’s immigration policy determines who may lawfully enter the country to live and work.
An immigrant is a person who has moved from another country.* (Note that the term does not denote legal status; an immigrant may have entered the country legally or illegally.)
Immigrate is the verb form, describing the action of immigrating.
My grandparents immigrated to the United States before I was born.
Migrate is a related word.
The Pilgrims migrated to North America to establish a new colony.
Migration, however, pertains more to geography than to politics and borders. (A person might migrate to a different region in search of work, for example.)
The miners migrated west in their search for gold.
Migration often refers to seasonal travel or movement.
The annual whale migration has begun.
Not all birds migrate.
A migrant is one who migrates, whether human or animal. Migrant is often used when referring to workers who are not living in a permanent residence during their employment.
Migrant farm workers are also known as migratory agricultural workers.
An emigrant is a person who has left his or her country of residence to settle elsewhere.
His parents emigrated from Germany to avoid persecution.
In short, you are an immigrant to your new country; you are an emigrant from your old country.
Many young men emigrated from the United States to Canada to avoid the draft.
My parents immigrated to the United States after they were married.
I plan to emigrate next year.
I immigrated last year.
*Immigrant can refer a person who relocates to a new country or to a plant or animal “that becomes estalished in an area where it was previously unknown.”