Temporary immigration to Bolivia has varied between 17,000 and 26,000 between 2010 and 2012, falling to 18,000 in 2013. Even so, the numbers are much higher than the levels of permanent immigration, which ranged from approximately 1,000 people in 2010 to almost 3,800 in 2013. More than 50% of temporary immigration is due to international agreements, essentially in Mercosur.
The population born abroad has remained stable in relation to the total population, representing 1.4% of the total, a figure that corresponds to the general average of the foreign population in the total population of Latin America and the Caribbean.
From 2009 to 2012, emigration has increased by 23% – increasing around 6 thousand people per year – calculating for the year 2012 that around 98 thousand Bolivians emigrated abroad, of which three quarters of them went to Argentina, followed by Chile, Spain and the United States. From 2009 to 2012, migration to Spain and the United States fell by 36% and 30%, respectively.
The insertion in the labor market of Bolivian migrants in Europe and the United States is not very favorable in general. The unemployment rate has exceeded 20%, and for men it reached more than 27% in the period 2012-2013. Unemployment for Bolivian women has remained considerably lower than for men, and although it has also increased since the 2010-2013 period, it has been two percentage points less than that registered for men.
Remittances represent almost 5% of Bolivia’s Gross Domestic Product. Despite the decrease due to causes attributable to the international crisis between 2007 and 2012, they have begun to increase again. For 2013, Bolivia received 1,182 million dollars in remittances, which represented an increase of 8% compared to 2012.
In 2012, through the “Refugee Protection Law”, Bolivia established the protection regime for refugees and applicants for such status, in accordance with the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and other instruments conventions on human rights ratified by Bolivia. However, it is worth mentioning that both the number of annual asylum applications and the number of refugees living in the country have remained very low. By 2013, 20 applications were submitted, and the number of refugees in the country was less than 800, mostly from Peru and Colombia.
In 2013, the new Migration Law was enacted and its Supreme Decree dictates the regulatory framework of Bolivian migration policy. The purpose of the Law is to regulate the entry, transit, permanence and exit of persons in the territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and to establish institutional coordination spaces that guarantee the rights of Bolivian and foreign migrants, in accordance with the Political Constitution of the State, the International Instruments on Human Rights ratified by the State and the regulations in force.
The law replaces the 1996 Migration Law, the rule grants a broad protection to foreigners, which includes: Right to family reunification, to vote in municipal elections, to freedom of worship and religion, and to the assistance of an interpreter . The law originally contemplates migrant associations, which, legally constituted and registered in the National Directorate of Migration, will contribute to the protection of their rights.
The law establishes different categories of permanence: a) transitory, for a maximum period of 180 days; b) temporary, for a maximum period of 3 years; and c) definitive, for which it is necessary to have 3 years of permanence. Additionally, the law recognizes the right of the migrant to carry out lucrative tasks – on their own or in a dependency relationship – to all categories of permanence. Employers, for their part, are obliged to strictly comply with current labor legislation, regardless of the legal status of the migrant, whether they are regular or irregular.
Additionally, the new law introduces the express recognition of migration due to climate change.
At the end of 2013, a Decree was approved based on the provisions of the new law, which establishes the migratory regulation of foreigners in an irregular situation in Bolivia who wish to remain in the territory. Foreigners who wish to regularize had to present themselves between January 5, 2014, when the law came into force, and June 5 of that same year.
Additionally, the new law grants facilities for the return of Bolivian men and women. Returnees with labor and/or artistic skills can request a trade or occupation certification from the Ministry of Education through the Plurinational Skills Certification System. Likewise, the regulations allow the introduction of personal effects for normal use (family unit) without being subject to the payment of import customs duties.
As part of Mercosur, the Agreement on Residence for Nationals of the Mercosur Party States is applicable in Bolivia to all citizens belonging to the Party countries who wish to settle in Bolivian territory. This is intended to grant legal residence to nationals of a State Party who wish to reside in the territory. Temporary residence is granted for 2 years after which the nationals of a State Party may opt for permanent residence. Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia expressly recognize the right to health and education for all migrants protected under the treaty.
Main indicators of migratory movements, the migrant population and the employment of emigrants
|Bolivia (Plurinational State of)|
|Immigration (foreigners)||Number of people||Per 1000 inhabitants||Change in percentage|
|Permanent immigration (foreigners) by type||Number of people||% distribution|
|Others and unknown||713||763||69.901960784314||20.00524383849|
|Temporary immigration (foreigners) by type||Number of people||% distribution|
|Others and unknown||3826||3779||21.885367806887||20.483495040382|
|Emigration (nationals)||Number of people||% of the total||% change|
|Non-standardized data of destination countries||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|All the countries||79644||67179||88480||98120||100||23.198232132992|
|Asylum applications and refugees||per million inhabitants||Number of people|
|Components of population growth||per thousand inhabitants|
|Natural growth (vegetative)||25.814||26.094||23.803||22.195||19.826|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage with respect to the total population||Personas||% change|
|remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|Real Gross Domestic Product||4.1||5.2||5.2||6.8||5.3||–|
|Gross Domestic Product/per capita (PPP at 2011 international dollars)||2.5219299628179||3.5||3.5||5||3.6||5934|
|Labor insertion of national emigrants in Europe and the United States||percentages|