Voluntary Returns Introduced as Settlement Scheme Deadline Looms

by Din Havolli

With the June 30th deadline for the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) looming, time is running out for vulnerable EU citizens to register for settled status within the United Kingdom. As many flock to take the necessary steps toward securing their current status, the British government have quietly set about offering sweeteners to EU citizens open to the idea of leaving the United Kingdom.  

The government’s voluntary returns scheme incentivises departure for many who have already uprooted their lives to come here. The scheme proposes to offer payment for flights as well as a resettlement sum up to the tune of £2,000. Many have underlined the fact that a cash offer to leave the country seems to directly contradict initial claims by the government that it was doing everything it could to help vulnerable people register for Settled Status. 

The voluntary returns scheme appears to make more sense when considering that facilitating enforced returns can often cost a good deal more than the aforementioned £2,000. Enforced returns could become more common with many EU citizens yet to register for Settled Status, and it appears the government may well have anticipated this prospect.   

In light of this there have been calls from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JWCI) for an immediate lifting of the EUSS deadline. 

In a report titled When the Clapping Stops: EU Care Workers After Brexit (https://www.jcwi.org.uk/when-the-clapping-stops-eu-care-workers-after-brexit), the JWCI found that over half of the care workers surveyed in person were not aware of the date of the deadline. Those that indicated an awareness of the deadline highlighted inadequacies regarding outreach and support. 9 in 10 care workers surveyed in person were not aware of where they could seek assistance regarding EUSS.  

Reports such as that of the JWCI offer important indications regarding the difficulties EU citizens face in this country. The report focuses on key workers and even underlines the devastating impact that a loss of legal status for EEA+ care workers could have on the UK’s already vulnerable care sector. There is a supposition here that the loss of these people could damage the UK, subtly underlining their usefulness or desirability. Even the framing of reports such as this offer a quiet indication of the mood of a public who need to be convinced of the usefulness of people wishing to live here.   

More than half of Brits polled by YouGov in 2020 were in favour of immigrants having a job at an appropriate skill level (https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/03/04/what-do-brits-think-governments-new-immigration). This is perhaps in line with the government’s implementation of a points-based system that adopts a top trumps style method where numerical data relegates the often difficult contexts and circumstances migrants leave behind. 

For EU citizens currently living in the UK as well as prospective newcomers, recent migration policies will have underlined the UK’s intention to focus on what are perceived as its own interests.  And while the pandemic has seen the UK press give migrants some respite, there has already been significant damage. Even the language we use regarding migration has deteriorated to the point where dehumanization is commonplace and the only interests worth considering are our own. For many that have yet to register for settled status, these considerations will surely have an impact on their decision.

Din Havolli is a first year Creative Writing PhD student whose research has been made possible by a Graduate Teaching Assistant studentship. His research investigates the juncture between the short story cycle form and migrant writing. It explores the possibilities presented in the dichotomies of the form and how these are effectively utilised by writers engaging with postcolonial trauma theory. This research will be utilised alongside a creative component, an original short story collection titled ‘Leave to Remain’.


Our Liverpool launch event, 19 June 2019

On the 19thof June, the Liverpool City Council organized a remarkable event in the Arrivals Hall in the Cunard building to launch its migration strategy – Our Liverpool, bringing together policy makers, city councillors, artists, activists, and academics. The Cunard building was transformed into a multicultural space, as the audience who took care to draw on their traditional cultural costumes for the event. The strategy brochure looks at refugees and vulnerable migrants; the vision of the council appears to be focused on welcome and sanctuary which presumably will extend to different kinds of vulnerabilities.


Art work presented

Mayor Joe Anderson linked the new strategy with Liverpool’s past and its legacy to today’s Liverpool culture. Irish migration was highlighted, whilst council’s narrative is mindful of the anti-immigrant climate and increase in hate crime.

Frank Hont, one of the long-standing supporters of migration policies in the city, called the new strategy a strategy of welcome. Asylum and dispersal have been part of the city since 2000 therefore welcome has been part of the discourse at city level. He recognised the contribution of migrants and the non-state organisations and highlighted the 2016 Community Cohesion Panel within the city council – part of policy infrastructure in the city, and also the voluntary family support for migrants. One of the upcoming events is the Windrush day to be celebrated in Liverpool. However, he emphasised the role of the Inclusive growth plan to make sure none in the city is left behind as the city grows. As he said, ‘Tackling racism and social cohesion is a life time’s work. The strategy is a tool box’, recognising the established communities as stakeholders in the strategy of welcome.

Frank Hont

Nina Edge presented an inclusion and diversity artistic project creating a postcard which can be posted anywhere in the world. The book is published, but that is also a postcard and some copies are posted already around the world. Excerpts of the poem deriving from this project and included in the strategy brochure rhyme: ‘With a Scouser by your side, you will never walk alone’.

According to Julie Kashirahamwe, who leads on refugee and asylum seekers’ city council programmes, the focus of the strategy is to coordinate efforts both within the council and across the region, and to coordinate services and inform policy through the voice of migrants. A refugee education officer has been appointed specifically for children in schools. An ultimate goal is to reduce social isolation. How to achieve this? Seven action plans have been delineated, one for each strategic themes and the council plans to work in collaboration with voluntary organizations. A complex structure is put in place including frequent reporting steering group and accountability to the migrants as well.

What is it like when you arrive as a refugee in Liverpool? A member of Our Liverpool migrant group highlighted that destitution is common when asylum seekers’ applications are rejected.

Asylum seeker

Liz Parsons, a city councillor, emphasised that the strategy is a document of accountability. The impact of Our Liverpool will unfold in the coming years, and as part of the Asylum Seekers and Refugee Group  (ASRG) the MWG-NW will be contributing to its implementation in the coming years.

More art work

More info here: https://liverpool.gov.uk/social-care/adult-social-care/our-liverpool-support-for-refugees-and-asylum-seekers/


Promotion inclusion for Migrants’ Empowerment

By Anna, Expanding Horizons

The Booklet for Sharing Experiences and Practices for Inclusion from the PIN project:  “Promotion inclusion for Migrants’ Empowerment”, a EU project that aimed to improve the quality of youth work addressed to the social inclusion of young migrants, is now available.

The project has been developed in partnership with: Merseyside Expanding Horizons (UK), Per Esempio (Italy), Peñascal S.Coop. (Spain), United Societies of Balkans (Greece), Apprentis D’Auteuil (France), AWO KV Bremerhaven e.V (Germany).

The high numbers of migratory flows that move across the Mediterranean and the Balkan route, bringing thousands of people out of wars, conflicts and poverty to Europe, is reflected in the higher and higher number of young migrants, most of them minors. The reason why these young people leave their country are: to escape from persecution or serious damage, and thus seeking “physical protection”, economic reasons and future expectations, and eventually reunion with their families.

Psycho-social support actions are relevant to understand their stories, the reasons that pushed them to migrate, their needs and their future aspirations. Youth workers and youth organizations can play, in these terms, an important role.

Through informal and non-formal activities, if they are trained and equipped with the appropriate tools, youth workers may provide the PIN-code, which is the access key to enter and be included within the host societies.

Starting from these considerations, the project “Pin for ME” aimed at:

• Improving the quality of the socio-educational animation for young migrants through cooperation among youth organizations and youth workers.

• Increasing the capacity and improving the strategies of youth workers and organizations, addressed to the young migrants’ support.

The project included three complementary activities:

1. 1 Training Course in Palermo,

2. 4 Study Visits in Palermo, Paris/Le Mans, Liverpool and Bremerhaven

3. 1 Final Seminar in Palermo.

During the Study Visit in Liverpool, EU participants had the opportunity to visit local organisations and share methodologies with their staff and directors. Special thanks to : Asylum Link Merseyside, Refugee Council in Manchester, Sola Arts, and Fire Fit Hub.

For more info www.expandinghorizons.co.uk

Second generation Albanian girls in South Tyrol. Identity between ethnicity and transnationalism

By Sabrina Colombo, Free University of Bozen

In November 2018, Migration Working Group – North West at Edge Hill University was delighted to welcome visiting fellow Sabrina Colombo, from the Free University of Bozen in Italy. A friendly and vivacious presence in the university, Sabrina was happy to impart with us her first steps and experiences as a PhD student. At the moment, Sabina is attempting to understand the context of her research project, in a unique region in the North of Italy, with a specific history and ethnic mix, which could represent an interesting challenge for newer migrants. Below is Sabrina’s account of how her own experiences as an Italian moving from Rome up North inspired her PhD project. 

My doctoral research project is set in South Tyrol and deals with identity issues concerning young Albanian girls living in that region. South Tyrol is a region located in the North-East of Italy, on the border with Austria and Switzerland. It is an autonomous region that had been, for a long time, part of the Hapsburg Empire, before being annexed to Italy in 1919, at the end of World War One. Most of the people living there speak an Austro-Bavarian dialect of the German language, but Italian-speaking and Ladin-speaking (a Rhaeto-Romance language) communities had already been present at the time of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The forced annexation, the borderline characteristics of the territory, the rise of Fascism and then Italianization, have given rise to a challenging situation from the point of view of identity and belonging.

Nowadays, German and Italian are both official languages of South Tyrol and, in some Eastern municipalities, Ladin is the third official language. Every citizen has the right to use their own mother tongue and must also choose one of these three languages by filling in the Declaration of Linguistic Group Belonging or Affiliation. The school system has separated schools for each language.

Due to professional reasons, in September 2012 I relocated to South Tyrol, where I accepted a position as a primary school teacher of Italian as a second language in a German-speaking school.Like many other Italian people, I knew this region only as a tourist attraction and I totally ignored its past history. Although I was really happy to be in Brixen and to have a good working position, from the first few weeks I realized that something didn’t quite work. I noticed that one of the most important problems was the ‘total’ separation between schools. Possible contacts between children and teachers of other languages were avoided. For example, Italian and German primary schools co-existing in the same building, had different break times, so that pupils and teachers didn’t come in contact with one another in the school yard. At that time, I taught in two schools: one in Brixen and one just 3 km from the town, in Elvas. The children who were in the village school knew only a few words of Italian and couldn’t manage to conjugate verbs in the present form. It was also strange to me that parents stopped me on the street asking when the Province would start bilingual schools. A further perspective gained at school was through observing my colleagues’ behavior, who were behaving differently depending on whether they were facing pupils/parents with a migration, German-speaking or Italian-speaking backgrounds.

Although the situation was difficult and controversial, curious and strongly interested in others as I am, I spent the first months of my stay in the new homeland reading several books to learn more about the past history that has led to such a German-Italian-Ladin split society. Topics included: First World War history, the catacomb schools  – during the Fascist period ‘(…) a covert resistance to Italianization [that] fostered secretive education in German (…)’, according to Zinn, the Autonomy Agreements of 1946 and 1972 (a bilateral treaty between Austria and Italy to protect minorities’ language, culture and customs and to grant self-government and fiscal autonomy), the terrorism period from 1956 until 1988 (when a group of South Tyrolean secessionists supported by some Austrian and German Nazis organized 361 bomb attacks, with several casualties). This historical background is largely ignored by most Italians due to geopolitical reasons.

All this collected information and further discussions with the locals didn’t help me to get over my initial feelings: I felt I was a migrant in my own country. Curious, isn’t it? It was a very strange feeling. I was Italian and supposedly in Italy, but most of the time the people, the written and spoken language and other circumstances reminded me that ‘Südtirol ist nicht Italien – South Tyrol is not Italy’. Identity issues and questions around belonging became a challenge for me in my new homeland.

Thus, when I started to think about a PhD a year ago, I decided to focus the investigation on identity formation and sense of belonging of girls, whose parents come from Albania and deal daily with this divided society. The Albanian community is one of the largest migrant groups in the region (11,1% of the migrant population according to ASTAT 2018) with whom I came in contact during my teaching experience.

Which implications will I face doing this research? What do I share with the participants? Those were the first emerging questions approaching this field. As an ‘internal’ migrant I still feel an insider, able to share the immigration experience with the girls’ parents. If I think of other key informants necessary for this research such as teachers, I feel that my position in relation to them is that of a professional. If I consider the South Tyrolean society, I’m not an insider but not quite an outsider either – I’m in between: I speak German, but not the local dialect, which I still understand; I didn’t grow up in South Tyrol, but I know very well its historical background. Reflecting on my position as a researcher, I see myself as a bridge between different cultures.

Girls, families, youth centers, Albanian associations and migrant women associations involved in this research speak German and Italian. It is not my intention to exclude the Ladin society, but most of the migrants resident in South Tyrol live in towns where German and Italian are the spoken languages. Factors such as ethnicity, transnationalism, family relationships, education, religion, contact with the locals, will be important and part of my future investigation. Through narrative one-to-one interviews and photo elicitation I will invite the girls to speak in detail about their life stories. The main participants involved in this project will be 20-25 girls aged between 15-20 years, born and/or raised in South Tyrol. Other key informants will be asked to participate in structured interviews about their contact with second generation Albanian girls. The project will start in January 2019 and proceed with data collection, data analysis and writing of the thesis by October 2020.

I would like to end with a quote by Nowicka and Ryan regarding insider and outsider positions in migration research: ‘(…) researchers should give up the idea of any assumed, a priori commonality with their research participants and instead set out to conduct research from a position of uncertainty.’ In my opinion, this is the biggest challenge for a researcher, because doing research doesn’t deal only with the outside world, but above all with your own world, your emotions, convictions and bias.


Nowicka, M. & Ryan, L. (2015). Beyond Insiders and Outsiders in Migration Research: Rejecting A Priori Commonalities. Introduction to the FQS Thematic Section on “Researcher, Migrant, Woman: Methodological Implications of Multiple Positionalities in Migration Studies”FQS: Forum Qualitative Social Research Sozial Forschung, Volume 16, No. 2, Art. 18, http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2342

Zinn, D. L. (2018). Migrants as Metaphor. Institutions and Integration in South Tyrol’s Divided Society

Book recommendations about South Tyrol:

  • Alcock, A.E. (1970). The History of the South Tyrol Question
  • Melandri, F. (2010). Eva sleeps
  • Steiniger, R. (2003). South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century

ACT, Youth in Movement Project

Merseyside Expanding Horizons is part of a project that offers great opportunities for youth/refugee workers and volunteers to understand the refugee situation and pick up valuable skills.

ACT Youth in Movement is an Erasmus+ project aiming to create innovative citizen pathways for young people. Over 60 young people from across Europe have been trained and sent to Greece and Italy to volunteer with local organisations supporting migrants and refugees. Watch the ACT Youth in Movement video showcasing the experience of young volunteers working with migrants and refugees in Italy and in Greece:


Video part 1:


Video part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIvp49Jjwqg

After watching the videos, please help them improve their work by answering 5 questions:


Please read Liam’s impressive testimonial in “Practitioners’ voices”.

What I do as a Social Work Practitioner Working on a Refugee Resettlement and Integration Project

The New Roots Initiative: Empowering Refugees

by Edwin Murambiwa

Liverpool: https://www.newstarthomes.org.uk

Soon after graduating with a Master’s degree in Social Work, I started working with migrant refugees. During my student placement, I identified an immigration policy discrepancy which causes resettlement and reintegration dilemmas to this vulnerable group. Under section 98 or 95 of the immigration and asylum Act 1999, when migrants are granted leave to remain, their support with UK Boarder Agency ceases after 28 days. Transition into the mainstream system is often problematic due to a number of factors. Challenges include: short notice, language barrier, lack of knowledge of the UK housing and welfare benefit system. As a consequence of these factors, refugees are often rendered homeless. These dilemmas and challenges for the new immigrants provided an opportunity for me and my organisation to come up with new initiatives to address the challenges.

I developed a strategic plan to promote community cohesion through setting up and implementing a resettlement and integration project model called “New Roots”. Bearing in mind that most of these migrants have been exposed to traumatic experiences due to adversities that include human trafficking, modern slavery, torture, violence and war, it was envisaged that this resettlement intervention strategy would also help to improve the health and wellbeing of distressed asylum seekers and refugees.

The project involves providing new refugees with supported housing services. The New Roots migrant user group consists of both single adults and families. The main objective of the project is to address homelessness and unemployment; this is to help new refugees move on. New Roots intervention is therefore playing a pivotal role in addressing resettlement and reintegration needs of this group in the local communities. By getting into fully furnished supported houses, refugees have an opportunity to settle down and plan their life without the hassles of finding landlord references or buying household items. Once a person demonstrates the necessary motivation and feels ready to move on, they are assisted to register on the “property pool plus” website. Thereafter, they are supported to bid for properties until they are eventually offered their own independent homes. Upon getting their own home, my team supports refugees to sign new tenancies, set up utility bills and obtain furniture before being assisted to move in.

We use “The Outcomes Star”, an evidence based online IT tool, for measuring changes that people go through, as both record-keeping and an assessment tool. It acts as an assessment and intervention tool to address needs around ten key areas, giving scores from 0-10, namely:  “motivation and taking responsibility”; “self-care and living skills”; “managing money”; “social networks and relationships”; “drug and alcohol misuse”; “physical health”; “emotional and mental health”; “meaningful use of time”; “managing tenancy and accommodation” and “offending”.

At referral point, just to give one example, a person may score on “motivation and taking responsibility” because of low motivation to find accommodation due to lack of housing knowledge in the local area and language barrier. This may have resulted in “sofa surfing” with friends on a temporary basis. This might have caused a big impact on mental wellbeing due to feeling anxious around lack of independence and security. However, the score may improve when reviewed after 3 months as a result of interventions made. Upon attaining improved scores of say 8/9/10 across all the key areas the person is assumed to have demonstrated readiness to move on.

As a project manager, I am also involved in recruitment and training of new project support workers. I am responsible for allocation of caseloads, supervision, monitoring and reviewing provision of support services. I organise and chair staff meetings, workshops and training on identified professional development needs. Additionally, I do risk assessments and contribute towards resolving safeguarding matters.

My role also involves empowering refugees to gain skills and knowledge of life in the UK to enable smooth resettlement and integration in new communities and moving to independence through employment, education and training and subsequently getting their own tenancy. My duties entail leading and supervising the team, carrying out assessments of individual needs, drawing up, implementing and reviewing support plans. The duties also entail supporting people to live safely in their homes and using household facilities appropriately (tenancy sustenance). I also help refugees with benefit claims, access to food banks, essential items and urgent needs awards, in cases of benefit delays. I support them to manage their money and paying bills as well as helping service users to access health services through registration with doctors. In some cases, I help to finding school places for the children and support good parenting.

My role also entails multi-agency working with several external organisations that include, British Red Cross, Liverpool City Council in particular-Housing Options team and Citizens Support Scheme, Migrant Help, Merseyside Refugee Network for Change, White Chapel, YMCA, Refugee Action and immigration lawyers in supporting family reunion processes.

Because most of the refugees have low-level literacy and numeracy skills I assist them to fill in important paperwork, the most common being learners’ driving applications and Home Office travel documents. The travel document application form has got a section 9 which must be completed by a professional person who is not a relative. I have assisted hundreds service users to successfully apply for travel documents as part of the free service that my organisation offers. This helps them to travel and meet families and friends left abroad to avert anxiety and depression arising from loneliness and isolation due to separation from their loved ones.

The majority of refugees have communication barriers because English is not their first language while a good number are from non-English speaking countries. Consequently, support and advocacy to access English for Second Language Speakers (ESOL) is paramount. I facilitate access to English language skills and this helps service users to gain the requisite skills that lead to employment and better integration in the community. I support and signpost refugees to appropriate ESOL providers. Furthermore, I work in partnership with capacity building organisations to support the development of the migrant community to access training and skills development to help them gain employment. I have referred a good number of refugees to “Liverpool in Work” and the newly established “Our Liverpool” teams to access short courses in health and social care leading to employment.

In order to address language and cultural challenges, as I do not speak other languages like Arabic, Farsi and French, which are common languages in the refugee community, I have created peer mentoring services to improve the contribution of peers with lived experience and I have arranged peer mentoring trainings.

These training opportunities have gone a long way in enhancing and empowering the service users to gain valuable skills. This has in turn helped to enhance the quality of services offered to new refugees. I should also point out that those that have done peer mentoring have further improved their employability skills and some have secured employment. The organisation has also acted as a referee to employers.

Attending a reflective practice training conducted by Dr Neil Thompson on understanding the impact of loss and grief gave me an insight of how the separation and loss of loved ones, disruptions of usual life styles because of moving away from countries of origin put refugees in a “state of grief.” Also due to past traumatic experience of war, modern slavery issues, torture, and human trafficking, refugees may suffer from distress and mental health. This awareness brings in collaboration with doctors and mental health practitioners to help refugees access early help to prevent escalation of mental health issues.

In conclusion, a combination of continuous training, workshops and practical experience have taught me that refugees may suffer discrimination, stigmatization, stereotyping, isolation and exclusion. I have managed to recognise oppressive practices and structures.I promote anti-discriminatory/anti oppressive practice and make sure that “equal opportunities and diversity awareness policies” are embedded in all aspects of my practice. I am aware of the importance of recognising and respecting individual differences and how these differences may impact on styles of work; preferred ways of meeting needs and desired outcomes.

Mediterranea, an Italian-flagged migrant rescue ship heads into the Mediterranean


Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 09.42.35

Merseyside Expanding Horizons is a not-for-profit organisation based in Liverpool focussing on social inclusion. Among our European network of organisations supporting migrants and refugees’ rights, we work collaboratively with the promoters of a great initiative: Mediterranea.

This initiative comes as a response to Italy’s recent policy of refusing non-Italian rescue ships to dock in Italy with migrants they have rescued at sea. But the Italian government cannot refuse a ship flying an Italian flag. So, a group of activists is challenging the government because Italy will be forced to accept migrants arriving on their Italian-flagged ship. That means, in theory, Italy cannot turn the ship away at port.

Mediterranea is a 37-meter vessel, its objectives are to monitor, denounce, and rescue knowing that “saving one life in danger means saving everyone”.

Mediterranea is a non-governmental project by the joint work of heterogeneous organizations and individuals open to all voices from different perspectives, secular and religious, social and cultural, union and political, that feel the urge to share the goals of this project, which aims at giving hope, rebuilding humanity, and defending law and rights.

The project has been promoted and supported by several associations and NGOs. The mission has received the financial support of a group of Italian parliamentarians, as well as representatives of the world of culture and civil society.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1,741 migrants have died in the attempt to cross the central Mediterranean this year alone. The specialized NGOs and UNHCR demand the implementation of legal and secure access routes to European countries so that these people are not forced to put their lives in danger at sea.

Anyone can contribute to it by promoting it, by becoming member, or through financial support.

Merseyside Expanding Horizons asks their partners to stand up for Mediterranea and wishes to develop a British supporting committee. Please get in touch: admin@expandinghorizons.co.uk

Andrea Gonzalez

Merseyside Expanding Horizons


For more info : www.mediterranearescue.org


A new UK immigration system after Brexit?

Ruxandra Trandafoiu

A better understanding of what the immigration system will look like after Brexit, especially in relation to EEA (European Economic Area) rights, is slowly emerging. The headline? No preferential regime for EU citizens, policies to attract higher skilled workers and more generous visa arrangements for international students who finish their studies here, in an attempt to encourage the brightest minds to stay. There also seems to be an indication of new initiatives to train British born young people to meet the shortfall in lower skilled migration from the EU.

We’ve already had the news that EU citizens will lose the preferential treatment they currently enjoy as part of the EU’s freedom of movement policy. Mid-September, in an interview for BBC’s Panorama programme, Theresa May said: “What I’m very clear about is the message from the British people was very simple. It was they didn’t want a situation where they could see people coming from the European Union having those automatic rights in terms of coming here to the United Kingdom, and a set of rules for people outside the European Union.”

At the Conservative Party Conference which took place at the beginning of October in Birmingham, Theresa May used her leader’s speech to emphasize that leaving the EU would enable the UK “to reduce the numbers” of immigrants coming into the country – giving British businesses “an incentive to train your own young people”.

Back in September, the Migration Advisory Council published its report on the impact of international students (around 750,000 every year) on the UK’s economy, in which it recommended:

  • there is currently no cap on the numbers of international students able to come to the UK to study and we recommend it stays that way
  • a more generous regime for post-study work visas; currently, PhD student visas allow students to remain in the UK for four months after expected course completion, but they can apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, allowing them a year of work; Master’s students and undergraduates have up to four months, though those Master’s students in the Tier 4 pilot have six months; to remain in the UK for work, non-EEA students need to find a Tier 2 sponsor or to be accepted onto a Tier 1 Entrepreneur scheme; we recommend that PhD students automatically be given one year’s leave to remain after completion of studies, that the current MSc pilot should be extended so all these students have six months, and that the window of opportunity to apply for a Tier 2 visa be widened; graduates of UK Higher Education Institutions should also be eligible for the existing easier access to Tier 2 jobs for two years after course completion that is not dependent on them physically remaining in the UK as it is at the moment

The full report is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/739089/Impact_intl_students_report_published_v1.1.pdf

This week, the same Migration Advisory Council published a report, commissioned back in July 2017 by the Home Secretary, to set out the current patterns of EEA migration into the UK and to assess the impact of EEA migrants on the economy and society of the UK. Here are its main recommendations:

  • we recommend moving to a system in which all migration is managed with no preferential access to EU citizens
  • there should be a less restrictive regime for higher-skilled workers than for lower-skilled workers in a system where there is no preference for EEA over non-EEA workers
  • for lower-skilled workers, we do not see the need for a work-related scheme with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme

The report is available in full here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741926/Final_EEA_report.PDF

[The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues. Its current chairman is Prof. Alan Manning.]


Not a beginning…more of a continuation – Let’s talk!

Ruxandra Trandafoiu

For someone born in isolated, communist Romania, migration had to be a mental thing. We had translations of great authors and ‘ideologically correct’ films and ultimately, towards the end of the 80s, we had Western television, arriving via satellite dishes hidden at the back of buildings, on balconies. Mental migration kept the hope alive while free media seemed like the best thing to have. With the post-communist transition came the opening of borders, tourism, family reunification, labour migration and asylum applications.

Communism had kept hidden the ethnic hierarchies carved by nationalism and the quest for statehood that characterized much of 19th and 20th century Eastern Europe, but ethnic and religious identities suddenly became relevant after 1989. As a journalist, I found myself thrown into very raw political debates and identity and ‘difference’ became my bread and butter. But it was only years later that migration turned into a defining issue for me, both professionally and personally. Research is connected to the world we live in, cannot exist in isolation, and is often inspired by personal experience or the experience of those around us.

I became a scholar of migration and diaspora when I realized I was now a migrant and a reluctant member of the Romanian diaspora. The realization took some years to sink in, possibly obscured by the fact that I kept seeing myself as merely an international student, then an academic for hire. I had never defined myself as a migrant, but many encounters suggested people saw me as one in England and many in Romania began to think of me as one of those who had left without a return plan or date, an émigré. By then, I was practicing mental migration in reverse, an exercise in reimagining the homeland. And then there was the media, building an image of Romanians that I did not recognize. Suddenly, media did not seem so liberal anymore and I found myself a new raison d’être.

Outside, being a migrant had become the new paradigmatic way of being in the world, as friend and fellow academic Marius Lehene often reminds me. At home, I became worried that my Romanian, Greek and Hungarian heritage was being lost for my children, who, through their father could also choose to be Irish, Welsh, English and Scottish. And then there was Brexit, but about that another time. Migration is what defines us, despite the great lengths we go to in order to deny it, contain it, curtail it and vilify it. I am hoping that this blog will provide the opportunity for myself and many like me to share our journeys, thus continuing the quest we have been on our entire lives. This is not a beginning, it is a continuation of a perpetual conversation with ourselves and others.

Let’s talk!