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Contexto Migratorio

Uruguayan Migratory Context


The change in the composition by origin of recent immigration is one of the greatest transformations of human mobility in Uruguay.


Source: Prepared from the 2014 and 2019 Continuous Household Survey (INE. 2020).

is the increase in asylum applications in Uruguay between 2014 and 2019. The applications of Cuban citizens represented 89% of the total in 2019.


          People who arrived in Uruguay in the last five years came from Latin American countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.


Source: Prepared from UNHCR data (2020).


172% is the increase in residence applications in Uruguay in the same period (2014 - 2019).


Source: Prepared from the 2019 Continuous Household Survey (INE. 2020).

Source: Prepared from data from the National Directorate of Migration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2020).

Marco Legal

Legal framework for protection
and social inclusion


This country has legal instruments that explicitly recognize the human, economic, social, political and cultural rights of migrants and refugees (Law 18250; Law 18076). However, the implementation of the MERCOSUR Residency Agreement (Law 19254) and the maintenance of visa requirements for some non-MERCOSUR origins (Dominicans, Cubans, Haitians and citizens of a good part of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East), have generated a relative stratification of the effective exercise of the rights guaranteed by the Migration Law (Montiel and Prieto, 2019; Bengochea and Madeiro, 2020; Fernández et al., 2020).

Migration Law 18250 (2008)
Refuge Law 18076 (2006)
Law 19254 “Agreement of Residencies of United States

   part and associates of MERCOSUR” (2014)


What impacts did the pandemic have on the migrant and refugee population?


There were problems in the face-to-face public service that generated a certain delay in the processing services and issuance of residence permits and visa applications to enter the country. The interviews carried out with refugee claimants and the requests for refuge at the border continued their course.


Unemployment and the drop in activity that directly affected workers in the service sector (carriers, delivery men, application workers, domestic service, commerce, gastronomy and tourism), reduced the income from work of this and other populations. In addition, many of the migrants with little time in the country or with unstable work itineraries saw limited opportunities to avail themselves of contributory social benefits -unemployment insurance and partial unemployment insurance-, due to not having a sufficient number of contributions made to the system. Likewise, access to non-contributory benefits was quite low prior to the health emergency as a result of the requirement for certain apostilled documents at the time of filing the application, and this trend continued during the pandemic. As a complement to the set of pre-existing non-contributory benefits, the Ministry of Social Development implemented the Food Emergency Basket.


As a result of the impact on income, a series of evictions and multiple difficulties were recorded in meeting the costs of renting apartments and paying rent in pensions and collective accommodation. Access to housing was already problematic before the pandemic that worsened its severity (Bengochea and Madeiro, 2020).  Civil society in coordination with international agencies (IOM and UNICEF) were the most active in seeking economic and legal responses to families at risk of eviction. The government of the city of Montevideo implemented an emergency subsidy for the payment of rent to residents in registered regular pensions. Although the National Migration Board recognized the housing situation of migrants and refugees during the pandemic as extremely serious, the national government did not suspend evictions or adopt specific support programs to meet the demands of these populations.


How has the
social protection in the pandemic?


In general terms, social protection during the pandemic has been led by the
State with a complementary role of social organizations, agencies
international and departmental governments.


A mode of protection based on the rights approach is preserved and some necessary adaptations were made to ensure access to social benefits in cases of documentary irregularity. 


Impact mitigation measures adopted by the State for the general population:

Reinforcement of pre-existing non-contributory benefits: the amount of the benefits 
Family Allowances for dependent minor children received by registered workers (AFAM BPS) or people in a vulnerable situation (AFAM MIDES Equity Plan) who have obtained or are applying for a refuge or residence permit. Likewise,
increased the amounts allocated to INDA baskets and the Uruguay Social Card,
aimed at the vulnerable population served by the MIDES Equity Plan.

Creation of new non-contributory benefits: an Emergency Basket was created 
Alimentaria (CEA) delivered by MIDES, and its delivery was not subject to the
practice to display documentation proving regular immigration status. Administrative and material challenges were verified for the registration of beneficiaries in the
digital application through which this monetary benefit was administered.

Victoria Prieto

Juliet Bengochea

Camila Montiel


“The protection of the rights of migrants and refugees during the pandemic”

PhD in Demography


Population Program of the Faculty of Social Sciences


University of the Republic

PhD in Population Studies


Population Program of the Faculty of Social Sciences  


University of the Republic

Bachelor of Development



Population Program of the Faculty of Social Sciences  


University of the Republic

This and other publications from our group are supported by the FORD/LASA Special Projects program [Grant # FL-15-01].

This and other publications of our group are supported by the FORD/LASA Special Projects [Grant # FL-15-01].

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