European Union - Most immigrants “want to settle” in country of residence

Three out of four non-EU immigrants are or wish to become citizens in their country of residence, according to a new survey.

It also shows that, contrary to what some may believe, immigrants highly value language and integration courses.

These are two of the main findings of a study by the Brussels-based King Baudouin Foundation and Migration Policy Group (MPG).

The “Immigrant Citizens Survey” of non-EU-born legal immigrants surveyed over 7000 people in 15 cities in seven countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain).

Francoise PISSART of the King Baudouin Foundation, said: “The results are striking. While public debate focuses mostly on the problems of integration and only little on the successes, this survey shows a different picture.”

The results show that three out of four non-EU-born people are or wish to become citizens in their country of residence.
The results show that three out of four non-EU-born people are or wish to become citizens in their country of residence.

Citizenship helps immigrants and, in turn, makes them feel more settled, and sometimes obtain better jobs and improve their access to further education.

However, people are often discouraged from applying because of policy obstacles, such as problems with documentation in Germany and France, the power of authorities in France and Portugal, hard naturalisation procedures in France, and no right to dual nationality in Germany.

The survey also found that immigrants highly value language and integration courses, which have helped many not only to learn the language, but also get better jobs and involved in the community.

Generally, the survey found that immigrants were as willing as the average citizen to participate in society, for example by voting, getting more training, and learning the languages.

Ms PISSART said the key findings “point to a great desire to fully participate in the labour market in their countries of residence”.

Nevertheless, immigrants are confronted by many structural barriers in society.
Nevertheless, immigrants are confronted by many structural barriers in society.

For example, “one obstacle that immigrants may face includes a mistrust of foreign qualifications, leading to almost one third of immigrants surveyed occupying positions they felt ‘over-qualified’ for”, Ms PISSART added.

The “Immigrant Citizens Survey” or ICS describes itself as the first transnational survey that is “directly relevant” for policy-makers in the areas of integration at local, national and European level.

It asked immigrants for their assessment of whether integration policies and programmes are relevant, implemented, used, and have an impact on their own lives.

Thomas HUDDLESTON, of the MPG, said the results show that policy “makes a difference” for immigrants’ experiences of integration.

“The findings suggest that legal integration—family reunion, long-term residence, and citizenship—has an important and often neglected impact on societal integration.

“There is also potential for investment in broader integration courses, the recognition of foreign qualifications and political participation policies,” he said.
“The findings suggest that legal integration—family reunion, long-term residence, and citizenship—has an important and often neglected impact on societal integration.

“There is also potential for investment in broader integration courses, the recognition of foreign qualifications and political participation policies,” he said.

“How and when these policies are implemented is crucial. By giving immigrants a voice, the ICS adds nuanced depth to the integration policy debate which is often left out.”

Mr HUDDLESTON underlined that the main aim of the study was to make the voice of immigrants “large and representative enough to affect the formulation of integration and immigration policies in Europe”.

The survey’s key findings are available at www.immigrantsurvey.org. The full results will be uploaded there in June.