In observance of International Migrants Day, Dec 18
Return emigration is an optional yet natural consequence of emigration, especially when the prospect of permanent residence in the destination country is limited. In the case of emigration of South Asian migrants to countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the inevitability of return anchors their sense of self and their reference groups to their soils of origin. For several such emigrants, COVID-19 advanced and forced their return en masse, causing a decline in the international migrant stock for the first time in recent history. For Kerala in India, a state whose development trajectory is inextricably tied to its emigration history, return migration was an estimated 1.43 million emigrants returning between May 2020 and April 2021 constituting two-thirds of the total number of 2.1 million emigrants estimated to live abroad in 2018. To investigate the determinants of return and the short and medium-term impact of COVID-19 on Kerala migrants, through the Centre of Development Studies and the International Institute of Migration and Development, India, we have conducted a Return Emigrant (REM) Survey of 1985 REM between May and December 2020.