Migration and Home Affairs

Glossary Background

Scope of the Glossary

The EMN Glossary is a multilingual and multidisciplinary glossary for terms that are important in the field of asylum and migration. It has a focus on legal concepts deriving from the EU acquis, while at the same time acknowledging different understandings
of terms in a more global or national context, or in different disciplines (e.g. demography, sociology, economics). Emphasis is given to terms relating to international protection and refugees, and legal migration, as well as irregular migration and return. In addition, terms that are relevant to asylum and migration, which pertain to fundamental rights, integration, equality and crossborder movement, are also included. The Glossary includes entries for European and international institutions, organisations and processes which play a key role in the European migration policy, including bodies contributing to the implementation of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility
– i.e. the external dimension of the EU’s policy on asylum and migration (e.g. Bali Process, Black Sea Synergy, European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF for Africa)).

Throughout the Glossary, wherever there is a reference to a phenomenon (e.g. migration), there is always a reference to the corresponding person (e.g. migrant). To limit redundancy for some terms, preference has been given to the term for either a person or the process, depending on which term is more commonly used. For example, ‘highly qualified migrant’ is a term that is more commonly used than ‘highly qualified migration’.

Terms (Preferred terms and synonyms)

The preferred terms are listed in (English) alphabetical order. Where the term is an expression or compound word (i.e. comprised of more than one word), the entry reflects the ordering of the term in common usage – e.g. economic migration or applicant for international protection.
Where multiple interchangeable terms (synonyms) were available for a single concept, a ‘preferred term’ was selected and all the other possible terms (including quasi-synonyms and acronyms) were listed as synonyms.
In the alphabetical list of terms the preferred terms are highlighted in bold caracters, whereas the entries of synonyms refer with a hyperlink directly to the preferred term.

Terms are listed in the singular (not plural). Only in exceptional cases, when a term is commonly used in the plural form, such as e.g. “fundamental rights” or “reception conditions”, it is listed in plural. To the greatest extent possible, both the terms and their
definitions are gender neutral. For consistency with the IATE database, the gender-neutral plural pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’ have been used throughout, even when referring to the singular. While some EU languages employ a gender system of
agreement for nouns (e.g. in German, Migrant for a male migrant and Migrantin for a female migrant), for simplicity and for consistency with other glossaries only one gender form of such terms (the most generic) is used for these entries.


Each EMN glossary definition has been formulated according to the IATE standard, meaning that they can directly replace the term in any given text. For example, the term ‘applicant for international protection’ can be directly replaced in any text with its
definition: ‘third-country national or a stateless person who has made an application for international protection in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken’.

Some terms are understood differently when they are used in a global context, an EU context or specific legal contexts (e.g. in the context of the Schengen Convention or Dublin Convention). In such cases, the context in which a term should be understood
is indicated in the definition.

All reference to EU and EEA Member States (and Switzerland) and their languages, whether in the definition, notes or subheading, uses abbreviations according to the country codes of the ISO standard 3166-alpha. All other countries and languages
are mentioned in full.


Notes compliment the definition by providing up-to-date information, clarifying the scope of the concept (and its understanding in different contexts) and indicating web sources from which further information can be sought.

Relationships between terms

Most of the entries listed in the Glossary list a number of terms related to the preferred term through an equivalence, hierarchical or associative relationship.

  • An equivalence relationship is a relationship between two terms that represent the same concept and which are therefore (virtually) interchangeable. In the Glossary, synonyms have an equivalence relationship and are understood to also include terms that may represent a slightly different concept (i.e. quasi-synonyms), as well as acronyms and abbreviations.
  • A hierarchical relationship is a relationship between a pair of concepts in which one falls within the scope of the other – see broader term and narrower term.
    A broader term indicates the relationship between a more generic and a more specific term. For example, ‘economic migrant’ is a broader term of the term ‘labour migrant’, which in turn is the narrower term.
  • An associative relationship is a relationship between a pair of concepts that are not related hierarchically but which share a strong semantic or conceptual connection. Such related terms are not related in a hierarchical manner but have an association, which may help users to understand wider contexts and meanings of the terms in which they have an interest.

References to other terms and sources in the Glossary

Where a preferred term existing and defined elsewhere in the Glossary is used in a particular definition, note or by an indicated (hierarchical or associative) relationship, then this term is indicated in bold the first time it is used in the definition or note and a hyperlink is directly referrinig to the respective term.

Where in a definition or note, a source of an information (legal norms such as EU directives, international treaties, webpages, publications) is mentioned, a hyperlink is directly referring to the respective source.


Translations of the terms are listed in accordance with the abbreviations of EU
Member States languages following the languages codes of the ISO standard 63913.