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The two words 移民 and 移居 are really confusing to me, I’ve searched the dictionary but they are still vague to me. Can someone help me with the use of these 2 words and add some examples?

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移民(v) immigrate; (n) immigrant

移居(v) migrate; move to ~ (to live)

  • 移居中国= move to China (to live)

You just need to move to China to quality as 移居, even you don't become a citizen of China. Since it is very likely for someone 移居 to a country will later become an immigrant to that country, "移居" can also implies "to immigrate".

If you just move from Beijing to Shanghai, you are definitely not "移民"(immigrating) from Beijing to Shanghai; you are "移居" (migrate to) Shanghai from Beijing

  • 移民中国 = immigrate to China - You are expecting to become a Chinese citizen

  • 中国移民 = Chinese immigrant

  • 移居 is not a noun, therefore, there is no such thing as 中国移居

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The original sense of 移民 is that a government migrates people to a particular region, either by force or by incentive. 移 is "to move" and 民 is "people". The people migrated is also known as 移民.

In Chinese diaspora, lots of Cantonese people emigrated to foreign countries for work. The department in foreign country that deals with immigrants is Immigration Department, 移民局.

Now it binds to English meaning of emigration, namely, the act that a person migrates to a foreign country, although it does not fit well to the characters 移民.

In some sense, it includes the meaning of acquiring foreign citizenship although it is not necessarily true. The best term about this is naturalisation. In Chinese it is 歸化.

For example, 你移民美國. You emigrates to UK.


移居 is to move home to another area. 居 is a house, a dwelling. The meaning is very simple comparing to 移民.

For example

水上人由船上移居陸上. Tankas moves their home from their boats to the land.

移居德國. Migrate to Germany.

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