Migration is increasingly viewed as a panacea for development. While much research on the ‘migration-development nexus’ has focused on remittances and the developmental potential of these, other work has also highlighted the importance of return migration and, increasingly, the circulation of knowledge and skills, in engendering development. This said, it is important to recognise that the general euphoria surrounding the developmental potential of migration is increasingly framed within a Northern discourse and policy framework which seeks to better manage and control migration to the developed world. As such, it is important to recognise the different, and at times contradictory, agendas pursued by migrants, home and host countries. This article aims to highlight the implications of this for South–North relations.