The European Migration Network has published a new study on long-term irregularly staying migrants in the EU Member States. You will learn how the authorities at the national, regional and local level address their situation, to which rights and public services they have access and what measures have been taken in order to end their irregular stay.
The study “Responses to long-term irregularly staying migrants: practices and challenges in the EU and Norway” provides an overview of existing policies and practices in EU Member States and Norway towards third-country nationals in a prolonged situation of irregular stay. The study focuses on those third-country nationals subject to a return decision but whose return was not enforced or was postponed, and on those without a return decision who are unknown to the authorities. The study looks into national legislative framework and policies towards irregular migrants. It maps approaches to different types of services for this category of migratns and their provision. It describes the ways of ending the long-term irregular stay. Finally, it deals with the challenges and future measures to address the situation of long-term irregular migrants that could be implemented at the EU level. The chapters also reflect on the pandemic situation.
• The status of third-country nationals who cannot be returned due to legal or practical obstacles varies within and across the Member States as it usually depends on individual circumstances. Long term irregular migrants with some form of status or authorization of stay have limited access to services compared to those provided to regular migrants, especially concerning social protection benefits and employment.
• In case of third country nationals who absconded or who were never detected by the authorities, access to services is even more difficult and limited as they have no written documentation of any sort to remain or stay in the Member State.
• Services aimed at long-term irregular migrants are provided by national authorities and municipalities, with non-governmental organisations providing complementary or autonomous services. Cooperation mechanisms for service provision between national and local authorities are mostly ad hoc, and do not have a special focus on long-term irregular migrants, but rather irregular migrants more generally.
• In order to end irregular stay (voluntary) return is prioritised in the Member States. Regularisation is only marginally addressed in policy. The study identified return counselling as a good practice. Migrants are discouraged from illegal stay by restricting certain rights while balancing the need to provide humane treatment for all persons.
• The COVID-19 pandemic and urgency in ensuring access to medical care has highlighted the situation of migrants who cannot be returned or who remain undetected by the authorities. Due to border closures, in certain cases labour market shortages led to regularisation of workers with skills in shortage areas.
The study provides an overview of the situation in 25 EU Member States and Norway in the period 2015 – October 2020.
The EU report is accompanied by a shorter Inform and Flash that summarize main findings in succinct manner and by infographics. The Study of the Slovak Republic is available in a questionnaire format in English and Slovak language.