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Immigrant Citizens Survey


The Immigrant Citizens Survey asked immigrants to assess their aspirations and needs for integration and then evaluated how effective policies are in meeting them. The pilot took place in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

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The Immigrant Citizens Survey has a dedicated website where you can download all Survey products.
Click here or on the image to visit it.

For policy actors to fully understand the integration process and their impact on it, they needed to go beyond asking the general public and reach out to the beneficiaries of their policies and services themselves. We knew what the different laws and policies are across Europe (see the Migrant Integration Policy Index) – but we did not know which policies were working in practice and, above all, why or why not.

This knowledge gap could be overcome by a representative survey among non-EU immigrants— by directly asking about policy impact and by formulating the survey so that the results are comparable and easy-to-use by civil society. Immigrants as direct beneficiaries needed to be asked questions on key integration areas: about their background; integration goals; awareness of current policy; trust in implementing actors; reasons for/against participation, levels of satisfaction; observed benefits; and recommendations.

Though integration is local, many policies are national and, increasingly, impacted by EU law and European trends. To evaluate which policies are improving integration, it was critically important to have data that is comparable between cities, between the local and national level, and between countries. This pilot survey built on past work surveying immigrants, bringing together the most experienced national partners, following best practice, and providing new data in many areas of integration policy.

Results were launched in partnership with a national integration NGO, so that advocacy and policy-making organisations could better use the results of polling and consultation among immigrants. The timing of this project was strategic for the emerging EU agenda on capturing immigrant perceptions and designing common reference indicators to evaluate integration policy. As a result of this pilot, the voice of immigrants was made large and representative enough to affect the formulation of integration (and immigration) policies in Europe. This evidence base aimed to:

  1. Increase knowledge of policy impact and immigrants’ experiences;
  2. Create more impactful policies and services with better integration outcomes for immigrants and diverse societies;
  3. Secure national and European-level interest in structural support of surveying immigrants.

In April 2013, MPG published three papers providing additional analyses of the Immigrant Citizens Survey:

  • The first paper, on over-qualification, helps to explain why working immigrants perceive themselves to be overqualified for their jobs.
  • The second paper, on citizenship, help to explain under what conditions non-EU-born immigrants apply and are accepted for naturalisation.
  • The third paper, on integration courses, identifies which immigrants and under which conditions these courses are beneficial for labour market integration.


Migration Policy Group (MPG, Belgium), High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI, Portugal), Fundacion CIDOB (Spain), Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS, Spain), Fondazione Ismu – Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity (Italy), University of Leicester (UK), Menedék Hungarian Association for Migrants, MTAKI (MTA Etnikai-nemzeti Kisebbségkutató Intézet, Hungary), Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR, Germany), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium), Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (Science Po, France), France terre d’asile (France). Co-funded by the European Commission, Oak Foundation, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and King Baudouin Foundation.


Immigrant Citizens Survey WORK IN USE

Brussels’ premier English-speaking magazine uses MPG’s work for its guide to Belgian citizenship

BelgiumThe Bulletin, Brussels’ premier English-speaking magazine, has published a guide to obtaining Belgian citizenship.

The guide uses MPG’s Immigrant Citizens Survey and Migrant Integration Policy Index to describe how the path to citizenship in Belgium compares with other European countries. It also refers to MPG’s in-depth analysis of the new Belgian National Law went into effect on January 1st 2013.

Extracts from the guide:

Becoming Belgian: there is a will…

For some of us expats, the adventure of living in Belgium has been going on for some time now. And as days turn to months and years, we find ourselves thinking, speaking and acting more like Belgians than ever thought possible. So its not surprising then that, according to the Immigrant Citizens Survey (ICS), 75% of non-EU residents want to celebrate this transformation by becoming Belgian citizens.

…but not always an easy way

Good expat intentions aside, Belgium has not paved the smoothest of roads to Belgian citizenship. For example, the country obtained a score of only 69% in terms of Access to Nationality from the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) because among others its citizenship procedures were found to be discretionary, changeable, and inefficient.

These critiques are mirrored by comments in The Bulletin’s expat forum, where most complain about the lack of information, unclear requirements and a long wait accompanied by the impossibility of asking for an application status update.

To further complicate affairs for Belgian hopefuls, a new Belgian National Law went into affect on January 1st 2013. While Migration Integration Policy Analyst Thomas Huddleston offers a useful in-depth analysis on how the law differs from former legislation, the main message is this: the path to Belgian citizenship, while clearer, is no less demanding.

Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration uses Immigrant Citizens Survey for its policy brief on political participation ahead of the September elections

SVRThe Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), a prominent German think-tank, uses the Immigrant Citizens Survey for its policy brief on political participation ahead of the September elections.

This analysis found that well-integrated immigrants in particular would exercise their right to vote; in many cases, interest in voting also goes hand-in-hand with the desire to become a citizen. The majority of third country nationals already fulfil the main requirements for citizenship (65%) but only a small percentage (17%) wants to have a German passport. The Expert Council’s Research Unit thus recommends a stronger push for naturalisation and greater emphasis on German citizenship and voting rights. The reverse is also true: immigrants who want to be politically active and who satisfy the prerequisites for naturalisation should also apply for citizenship. Furthermore, the Policy Brief shows that immigrants’ interest in participating in the political process can also be strengthened, mainly through better social integration and education, for example, school diplomas, German language proficiency and knowledge of the political system and living conditions in Germany.

The immigrants themselves see a need for change in parliamentary representation: a majority of third country nationals thinks that the German Bundestag should have more Members of Parliament (MPs) with a migration background.

 They hope that these MPs would better understand them, better represent them and believe they would be symbolically important for Germany. This means that the political parties are confronted with two integrative tasks: on the one hand, they have to recognise immigrants’ concerns and problems and take them seriously; this is the only way to win over new voters. On the other hand, immigrants’ interest in politics can be enhanced by more adequate parliamentary representation.

The Expert Council is an independent scientific monitoring, evaluating and advisory council. It critically follows political and policy debates on the national, Länder and municipal level and gives research-based practical recommendations.

Download the policy brief’s executive summary (EN) here.

Download the full policy brief (DE) here.

Immigrant Citizens Survey WORK IN CONTEXT

Only 29% of French people think that immigrants are well integrated in the country

ICS screenshotAn opinion poll conducted by IPSOS and by a major research centre finds that only 29% of French people think “the huge majority of immigrants that have settled in France in the last 30 years are well integrated”.

Opinion polls asking about immigration and the integration of immigrants are not uncommon. But what if we were also listening to what immigrants themselves have to say about their integration and on how effective policies are in meeting their needs and aspirations?

This is what MPG’s Immigrant Citizens Survey aims to do. Learn more about the survey and its results here.



Are you looking for past news and events related to the Immigrant Citizens Survey?

News and events prior to 2012 are available in our archive.

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