Those who moved abroad at some point in their lives were bound to sunbathe in a new culture. Any expat is ready for that! But what comes as a surprise in most cases are the different stereotypes or labels that start to appear even from day one.
First, come with us into the Zen area, and try to understand it’s normal… We didn’t say ethical or realistic or logical, just normal. People have the tendency to put others into categories to keep things simple, and have a clear reality.
It’s only when people get to know each other on a personal level that the stereotypes vanish, and myths busted.
Here are the most harsh stereotypes we’ve bumped into.
#1 Undocumented expats come from poor countries
In a nutshell, an undocumented expat is a foreign-born person who moved abroad and doesn’t have a legal right to be or to remain in that county. Under the microscope, in a world where migration is mainly caused by the economical drive for a better life, “poor” is strictly a matter of state economy by comparison. But poor has definitely nothing to do with landscape beauty or natural resources, cultural richness or old tradition. In other words, “poor” is poorly used with this stereotype related to people who moved abroad and their origin country.
“Poor” countries… again, another poor concept and unrealistic, when we don’t define parameters for what “poor” means in numbers. Many times, locals use harsh stereotypes without knowing much about the countries expats come from before they moved abroad.
According to several sources, 33–50% of the total foreigners getting to the USA come with a legal Visa, the rest stay in a grey area, because legislation is not welcoming. Also, the “undocumented” label also applies when foreign nationals continue to be in the country after their visa has expired for example.
But there is also the case of expats who moved abroad and left their motherland to escape war. Many of them are unaware that they might have the right to remain in the U.S. for example thanks to some old laws:
- a valid claim for asylum; check who is eligible!
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS); more details here.
- or another form of immigration relief.
#2 They only come for benefits
When they moved abroad, maybe they didn’t think how precious and new their mother culture can be for their new town, or country, be it the USA or Australia, Canada or any European country. But later, once they started to integrate and adapt, many saw new opportunities thanks to locals’ thirst for novelty. Chinatown is a typical example of expats sharing of their culture within foreign land. They give something back too, besides taxes. They come with new flavours and a new approach on life. And variety is fresh for the brain and the whole society as a mechanism. Look back on history! Waves of expats made way for new worlds.
#3 Latinos or other people with foreign names in the USA must be immigrants
Not true! There have always been large migration waves in the USA since the 15th century. From Europe, later from Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean, and even the far far East, from Asia. Migration is nothing new for the USA! Let’s face it!
So, there are many Latinos or others of foreign origin living in the USA right now, who are descendants of expat families, and bear foreign names while being USA natives with foreign roots.
Here is a famous one! Louis C.K., the comedian, whose real name is Louis Székely. He is Hispanic with a Hungarian name. How come? His father was born in Mexico from a Hungarian man and a Mexican Indian woman. Although he was born in Washington City, he was raised in Mexico City for 7 years.
#4 Expats are taking our jobs & driving down wages
Wages usually drop temporary. And many times there is an economic phenomenon that makes things shaky and a handful of expats.
On the contrary, in Northern Ireland it seems that migration helped the labour market and the economy to grow, just like in Spain after the 1990s. According to the Labour Market Bulletin after 2004, the private sector wages in Northern Ireland rose more strongly than the UK as a whole.
#5 They send money out of the country
People who moved abroad and got a job contribute just like anyone else!
True, they send money home and mobile credit frequently via SendMoney or MobileRecharge.com.
Foreign workers pay many services: national insurance, tax, rent. Plus they spend money on transportation, clothes (even clothes they send home as a gift), utilities, and local pubs, the same way as the locals. They may be better with savings!
On the other hand, the new home state pays less for an expat than a local. It is estimated that immigrants to the UK from Central and Eastern Europe pay 37% more in taxes than it is spent on them by the state.
#6 Expats can’t make it too far
Really? We know thousands of examples that can bust the myth. First of all, expats have what many don’t: courage and the experience of hardship. That makes anyone strong enough to be realistic and fight for a place of their own. They have already left one country, so they will find the solution to find a job they could fit in or create new opportunities where they can be a good resource.
Gloria Estefan for example has left Cuba when she was little, together with her parents. They struggled, it wasn’t easy, for her parents or herself. But she managed to become too popular to be true.