To Control Migration Flows and Defeat Human Smuggling, Sell Visas

Alice Mesnard
September 29, 2016

Policymakers in most OECD countries face the challenge that they must fight people smuggling while retaining control of migration flows. Policies designed to increase border controls are not sufficient on their own; the level of enforcement that would eliminate people smuggling entirely would be extremely costly. Further, these policies have unintended consequences in the people smuggling market; they increase the fees charged by smugglers, increase reliance on their services, and increase their cartellization. By contrast, a visa-selling policy can weaken smugglers by decreasing their prices and squeezing their profits. However, eliminating people smuggling only in this way requires cheap visas and necessarily leads to a rise in the numbers of people migrating. An innovative policy of selling visas combined with enforced sanctions on employers and employees for illegal working can control migration flows and put smugglers out of business. Using the revenue generated to finance enforcement allows visa prices to be set at a high level that controls migration flows.

Rights & Permissions

You may use and disseminate CGD’s publications under these conditions.