International immigrants in Jordan face many obstacles to integration under the slightly unfavourable policies. Despite recent improvements, Jordan ranks in the bottom 5 out of the 56 MIPEX countries, only faring better than Saudi Arabia. Jordan scores 21 on the 100-point MIPEX scale, while the average MIPEX country scored 49. The obstacles facing international immigrants in Jordan are greater than in most other MIPEX countries.
Jordan’s approach to integration is categorised by MIPEX as ‘immigration without integration’ because Jordanian policies refuse to recognise Jordan as a country of immigration and integration. Although certain categories of international immigrants are able to settle long-term in Jordan, they are denied basic rights and equal opportunities to participate in society. In fact, access to basic rights and equal opportunities are weaker in Jordan than in almost all MIPEX countries.
Jordan’s approach to integration matters because state policies can influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The way that governments treat international migrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country. Jordan’s current policies may encourage the public to think of international migrants as their subordinates and as strangers. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants not only as equals and potential citizens, but also as neighbours and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
Many obstacles emerge for immigrants in nearly all areas of life in Jordan. Immigrants enjoy half-way opportunities for family reunification and permanent residence, while policies on political participation and antidiscrimination emerged as critically unfavourable for integration. Compared to the situation in the other 56 MIPEX countries, international migrants in Jordan are confronted with the most restrictive political participation policies, and some of the weakest policies on access to nationality, labour market mobility, health and education. Jordan’s integration policies are similar to other ‘immigration without integration’ countries, such as China and India. Compared to other Middle Eastern countries included in MIPEX, Jordan has less favourable policies than the United Arab Emirates and more advanced policies than Saudi Arabia.
- Labour market mobility: Unfavourable: Jordan scores among the lowest 5 countries in the MIPEX 56 in terms of labour market mobility. Immigrants face major obstacles to access the labour market, as they do not enjoy equal access to the labour market as Jordanian nationals. Furthermore, there is no general and targeted support to improve their professional skills or opportunities.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Although there is no provision in law regarding the period immigrants have to reside in Jordan to be able to bring their family members, only employed, investing or highly qualified migrants can apply for family reunification and a rather restrictive definition of dependency is enforced. The law does not set any integration or language requirements. Reunited families have few and less secure rights, including no right to an autonomous residence permit.
- Education: Unfavourable: Although migrant pupils can legally access public compulsory education, they face numerous practical obstacles. Jordan does relatively little to encourage and support them across the education system. However, since 2017, Jordan has extended access to the educational system to undocumented migrants, while the Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research established a new directorate aimed at promoting the country as an educational destination and at improving the experiences of international students. **Update 2020: The score improved from unfavourable (2019) to slightly unfavourable (2020) due to the introduction of optional in-service training on diversity for teachers.
- Health: Unfavourable: Jordan scores among the lowest 5 countries in the MIPEX 56 in terms of health policies for immigrants. Regardless of their status, immigrants are not included in the Jordanian public health system and they have to pay the full costs of their medical treatments. Asylum-seekers can be exempted from fees upon presenting a valid UNHCR certificate attesting their status. International immigrants enjoy little information and no support targeted to meet their specific health needs.
- Political participation: Critically unfavourable: International immigrants are completely denied the opportunity to participate in public life in Jordan, as foreign citizens have no right to vote or to join political parties, to be consulted by policymakers and no support is provided for immigrant organisations at a national level.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: International immigrants have to satisfy selective economic and/or employment requirements to be able to obtain permanent residence and the latter can be requested only after 10 years of residence in the country. However, the law does not set any integration and language requirements.
- Access to nationality: Slightly unfavourable: Jordan ranks in the bottom ten in the MIPEX 56 in terms of access to nationality. The path to Jordanian citizenship can take from 4 (for non-Arabs) to 15 years (for Arab migrants, who represent two thirds of the overall migrant population in the country). Furthermore, restrictive integration and economic requirements need to be satisfied. Jordan has not followed international reform trends to open up birthright citizenship entitlements for immigrants’ Jordanian-born children. Dual citizenship is not allowed, but there are multiple substantial exemptions.
- Anti-discrimination: Unfavourable: Together with India, Jordan has the weakest antidiscrimination policies among MIPEX 56 countries. Foreign citizens who are victims of ethnic, racial, religious or nationality discrimination have little chance to access justice in Jordan, as they are not covered by anti-discrimination laws. The country has an equality body with a general mandate to uphold human rights and combat discrimination, but there are no enforcement mechanisms or support for victims.