Working paper

Sale of visas : a smuggler's final song?

Emmanuelle Auriol, and Alice Mesnard


Is there a way of eliminating human smuggling? We set up a model to simultaneously determine the provision of human smuggling services and the demand from would-be migrants. A visa-selling policy may be successful at eliminating smugglers by eroding their profits but it also increases immigration. In contrast, repression decreases migration but fuels cartelized smugglers. To overcome this trade-off we show that legalisation through selling visas in combination with repression can be used to weaken human smuggling while controlling migration flows. Our results highlight the complementarities between repression and selling visas and call into question current policies.


migration; human smuggling; market structure; legalisation;

JEL codes

  • F22: International Migration
  • I18: Government Policy • Regulation • Public Health
  • L51: Economics of Regulation
  • O15: Human Resources • Human Development • Income Distribution • Migration


Emmanuelle Auriol, and Alice Mesnard, Sale of visas : a smuggler's final song?, TSE Working Paper, n. 16-645, May 2016.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 16-645, May 2016