(March 2002) From the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, applications for asylum rose sharply in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In response, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Trends in International Migration report, these countries introduced restrictive measures such as the expedited processing (and frequent denial) of applications, the extension of visa requirements to additional countries, and the limitation of asylum eligibility to people from countries that have not signed UN conventions on refugees and human rights.

Still, global flows of asylum seekers started to rise from 1997 on because of regional conflicts and restrictions on immigration. The figure below illustrates the reduction in asylum seekers in the wake of the restrictions in Germany and the United States and the increasing popularity of the United Kingdom and Belgium as destinations for asylum seekers. Generous benefits account for much of the increase in the United Kingdom and in Belgium, according to the report. Belgium’s total also rose due to an influx of asylum seekers from the Republics of the former Yugoslavia.


Flows of Asylum Seekers Into Select OECD Countries, 1992 and 2000

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Trends in International Migration, 2001 edition.