This paper provides an overview of current debates questioning the relationship between migration and development. A key argument is that mainstream academic and policy discussions often remain within a non-critical paradigm that sees the relationship between migration and development as natural, and development as something that can be achieved through direct or indirect policy initiatives. The contributions to this special issue challenge this perspective by showing that the connection between migration and development is the product of a political and scientific construction. They demonstrate that both migration and development policies are embedded in imbalanced power relations and north–south divide. This calls for building upon the findings of critical development studies to rethink the so-called ‘migration and development nexus’. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.