Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Author's Department

Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Second Author's Department

Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Third Author's Department

Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Cairo Studies on Migration and Refugees

Publication Date



Over the past forty years, the situation of the Egyptian labor market has not improved and remains to be the principal factor determining labor migration. In the past decade, creation of job opportunities has lagged behind labor force growth, which has led many to resort to migrating. According to the Egyptian Population Census (2017), Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the main countries of destination for Egyptian migrants. This report tackles the current situation of Egyptian labor migration in one of its major Arab destinations, Jordan. The Syrian crisis in 2011 has generated millions of refugees with Jordan being among the major countries hosting them. Among these refugees are hundreds of thousands of workers who have necessarily affected the Jordanian labor market and may have affected the demand for Egyptian migrant workers. In addition to the demand, the terms and conditions of Egyptian workers employment may have been affected by the excess labor supply, the low wages and long working hours accepted by refugee workers out of necessity. The overall objective of this study is to understand the impact of the regional political environment in terms of the large Syrian influx to Jordan on Egyptian Migrant workers in Jordan. The findings of the study indicate the importance of the economic factors in shaping migration decision and the centrality of migration networks in sustaining migration streams from Egypt to Jordan. The primary drivers for migration are low wages and lack of opportunities in Egypt. The preference for Jordan is that it is considered a close familiar country that offers financially rewarding job prospects and is less costly to migrate to in comparison to other countries in the region. There are bilateral agreements that regulate the migration process between Egypt and Jordan. However, the reliance of migrants on migration networks makes the recruitment process largely informal. This leaves room for brokers and intermediaries to overcharge potential migrants who are not always aware of the procedures. A key concern is, also, the increased cost of work permits that pushes more Egyptian migrants to violate the regulations and turn towards irregularity of their migration status. The study concludes that Egyptian migrant workers in Jordan, who are predominately semi and low skilled workers, face many challenges. The study specifically highlighted the difficult working conditions and the inadequate housing. According to the survey with Egyptian migrants, the presence of Syrians had some negative impact on their chances of finding jobs in Jordan. However, on the other hand, the interviews revealed that the jobs taken by the two groups are different. Moreover, although according to secondary data, the flow of Egyptian workers to Jordan has been decreasing since 2 2016, the interviewed returnees did not attribute their return to Egypt to the presence of Syrian refugees in Jordan. They rather associated it to wanting to reunite with their families, to the limited opportunities and increased living expenses in Jordan and to their intention of retirement and decreasing their exposure to further health risks. Many of the returnees have also indicated their aspiration of returning to Jordan once more, if the opportunity arises, as it still offers better financial opportunities. The study concludes with a set of recommendations for the two governments as well as for civil society organizations in the two countries with the ultimate hope of improving the migration experience of Egyptian migrants in Jordan and enabling the two countries to reap the benefits of migration. The study calls for further quantitative and qualitative research particularly with regard to the actual number of Egyptian migrant workers as well as the role of intermediaries and brokers in the migration process.