This paper is an updated version of a paper initially prepared for the ILO Asia-Pacific Regional Symposium for Trade Union Organizations on Migrant Workers organized by the ILO Bureau of Workers Activities in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia during 6-8, December 1999. The author first discusses problems with current terminology and examines some popular myths about migrant workers. He points out that receiving countries reap considerable benefits from migration, which are usually overlooked. He traces main trends and features in Asian labour migration in the recent past, and identifies the most vulnerable groups of migrant workers who need priority attention. The paper also highlights the current dilemma faced by labour sending countries in ‘protection’ of national workers abroad and promotion of overseas employment. In the final section, the author discusses the specific role of trade unions and broader policy options open to countries for protecting migrant workers in the light of ILO and other international instruments.