Kazakhs abroad (in China, Mongolia, and other newly independent republics of the former USSR) are encouraged to return. Those who fled in Stalin's time automatically received citizenship; others must apply.
In 1996, there was an organized return of 70,000 Kazakhs from Mongolia, Iran, and Turkey. During 1991–95, 82,000 Ukrainians and 16,000 Belarussians repatriated. Between 1991– 96, 614,000 Russians repatriated and 70,000 Kazakhs had repatriated from CIS countries. During 1992–96, 480,000 ethnic Germans had returned to Germany. These Germans were forcibly deported to Central Asia during World War II as from the Volga region.
As of 1996, 42,000 Kazakhs had been displaced internally or had left for other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries as a result of the ecological problems of the Aral Sea, which had lost three-fourths its volume of water. There were also 160,000 displaced persons as a result of Semipalatinsk, an aboveground nuclear testing site in northern Kazakhstan. Since 1991, 45,000 Kazakhs were displaced internally, and 116,000 had left for other CIS countries.
As of 1999, there were an estimated 35,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Kazakhstan. Of these, there were some 25,000 returnees of ethnic Kazakh origin, 6,000 Tajiks, 3,000 Afghans, Chechens, Georgians, and Armenians, as well as individual cases from China, African and other countries. The majority of the refugee population is located in the former capital Almaty and the southern part of the country. In 2000 the net migration rate was -12.2 migrants per 1,000 population, amounting to a loss of 200,000 people. The government views the emigration level as too high.