Most immigrants in Europe want to become citizens

At least three out of four immigrants in Europe are or wish to become citizens in their country of residence, a new survey has revealed.

The study shows that becoming citizens helps them feel more settled, obtain better jobs and improve their access to further education.

The Immigrant Citizens Survey (ICS) by the King Baudouin Foundation and the Migration Policy Group, also shows that immigrants highly value language and integration courses, which for many also enhances socio-economic integration.

It also shows that immigrants are as willing as the general public to vote or to join political parties and trade unions. They also wish to see more diversity in politics and are willing to vote for it.

The report further shows that family reunification improves family life and increases a sense of belonging.

One obstacle that migrants may face includes a mistrust of foreign qualifications, leading to almost 1/3 of immigrants surveyed occupying positions they felt “overqualified” for.

“The Immigrant Citizen Survey results show that policy makes a difference for migrants’ integration experiences,” said Thomas Huddleston of the Migration Policy Group. “The findings also suggest that there is potential for investment in broader integration courses, the recognition of foreign qualifications and political participation policies. How and when these policies are implemented is crucial. By giving migrants a voice, the ICS adds nuanced depth to the integration policy debate which is often left out.”

The Immigrant Citizens Survey is the first transnational survey that is directly relevant for policy-makers in many areas of integration at local, national and European level.

More than 7,000 non-EU legal immigrants in 15 cities in seven countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain) were interviewed.

“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,” said Francoise Pissart of the King Baudouin Foundation.

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