Sub-header of what looks like it will be an intriguing piece by one Ritwik Deo, in the Guardian:
The British living abroad see themselves as expats rather than immigrants – but Indians in the UK don’t get that choice
Mr Deo shares this take on his personal feelings regarding that assertion:
…For a year or two I fancied I was an expat myself. I came from India to study at St Andrews on a bursary. I mingled with classmates who had multiple passports, whose parents were expats in Zurich, Dubai, New York and Tokyo. But as I marvelled at the ease with which they glided into France, took trains in Croatia and made friends with Bedouins in Jordan, I was having protracted arguments with customs, who jabbed at my documents every time I tried to nip over to Ireland or France.
Such treatment made me realise I would never been (sic) an expat – only an immigrant…
Mr Deo raising the issue of “the difference,” it might have been expected that he actually attempt to tackle it?:
…So what is the difference? It seems expats have a special prerogative. It is an entitlement with far-reaching consequences…
The central question of the entire article is raised … and goes unaddressed. In fact it serves merely as a setup for his complaints, bemoanings and snide observations. Overall — even by the standards of Comment is Free — it is poor writing.
Possibly the main reason the piece is so sloppy is found in his failure to grasp fundamentally what it means to be a European Union passport holder in the first place:
…The British in Spain number close to a million, and they positively abhor being called immigrants…
They may be because as EU citizens they are not immigrants. And why aren’t they? Because as EU citizens, the British do not require permission from the Spanish government to settle in EU Spain.
…Australia, Canada, America, New Zealand and scores of pins and flags on the world map were once firmly and exclusively Anglo-Saxon in identity. Not any more. The last few decades have seen planes and boats disgorge people of other, newer ethnicities, and they and their children have gained momentum in their adopted countries. In face of this rising demographic pressure there is an even more urgent need to distinguish themselves as British…
…The term expatriate is a stamp of superiority and is reserved for those who have the right passport – and look the part.
I, sadly, will never fit that mould.
That is reasonable in this sense: Mr Deo as a non-EU passport holder absolutely lacks the correct passport to move around the EU without consulting individual national governments. His Indian passport does not confer on him the legal right to free movement and settlement within the European Union. Although he may take comfort perhaps in learning that restriction would apply to him also all the same even if he were the most “Anglo-Saxon” of non-EU passport holding North Americans, Australians or New Zealanders.
EU passport holders are as entitled to work, travel, relocate and retire within the EU as easily as if, say, an American wants to move from New York to retire to Florida. Fleeing rainy-climate Britain for sunny Spain is clearly much the same motivation for those EU British. Note too importantly that while EU Spain is available to them, British who “don’t have the right passport” could not move to US Florida nearly as easily; that would require permission from the non-EU US government, of course.
Hence why an EU passport holder moving within the EU is, technically, NEVER an “immigrant.” That clarified, what is “the difference” between the two words then? First, “expatriate,” as defined by the Cambridge Online Dictionary:
someone who does not live in their own country
Next, from the same source, “immigrant“:
a person who has come to a different country in order to live there permanently
Outside of the EU example, real “permanence” in the mind of the individual in terms of settlement is what most underscores “the difference.” For instance, a century ago most British who migrated to the Cape or Southern Rhodesia were essentially “immigrants”. But most British who relocated to India were not.
Why? Those British who left for southern Africa and did not plan to return to Britain were settling permanently. In comparison, those who moved to India and did plan to return were expatriates: they knew they would be “out there” a time, but would return to Britain eventually. Similarly Indians who deplane today in Britain are “immigrants” … if they plan on living out their lives in Britain permanently.
Naturally there are exceptions. But that is “the difference” in general terms. Moreover as one who today considers himself “expatriate” and not “immigrant,” yours truly previously had asked this…