Migrant-sending countries are increasingly exploring schemes where the human capital of expatriates can be used for the benefit of the home country’s socioeconomic development. This paper focuses on the mechanisms of emigration management and problematizes government involvement in diaspora engagement. By exploring two cases of diaspora engagement policies, those of India and of Ethiopia, the paper questions the success of government mechanisms, establishing the conditions under which these mechanisms lead to political and economic benefit from the diaspora. Although countries differ immensely in various aspects, Ethiopia modelled its diaspora policy after the case of India, which provides us with a good case for establishing the necessary conditions. Both countries see diaspora as a key resource in economic development of respective countries and have therefore invested significant resources into developing institutions and policies to engage diaspora. Nevertheless, there are some major differences between the countries, in terms of the countries’ resources and capacities to design and implement diaspora engagement policies and also in the composition of migrant communities. While Indian migration has always had an economic component, the Ethiopian Diaspora is primarily characterized by refugee flows. Moreover, India has a long history of migration and one of the largest migrant communities in the world. The paper argues that government resources and capacities to design and implement policies and the composition of migrant communities play a key role in determining the approach governments adopt with their diasporas.