THE WAYS AND MECHANISMS OF IMMIGRANTS’ LEGAL STATUS OBTAINING IN UKRAINE
Keywords:immigration, immigrant, legal status, legal status obtaining
The article is devoted to the study of the processes of legal status obtaining by immigrants in Ukraine in the period before the full-scale aggression of Russia. The purpose of this article is to identify problems and mechanisms of legal status obtaining by this group of persons. The novelty of the article lies in the conceptualization of patterns of obtaining the legal status by immigrants. In the process of working on the article, survey methods, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, focus groups, and self-registration methods were used. Empirical data for preparing the article were obtained in the study “Migrants with irregular status in Ukraine” carried out within the framework of the EU-funded and IOM-implemented project “Migration and Asylum Management Support in Ukraine” (IMMIS). The survey was conducted among experts (leaders of immigrant communities, civil servants, representatives of non-governmental and international organizations dealing with migrant issues) and immigrants. The selection criteria for immigrants were the absence of Ukrainian citizenship, continuous stay in Ukraine for at least two-month period, and reaching the age of majority.
The study revealed two ways for immigrants to fall into an unregulated situation: violation of the rules of entry into Ukraine and expiration of the stay period determined by visa or other document. The widespread experience, at least temporary, of proper legal status absence among immigrants is empirically proven. For instance, more than a third (38.6 %) of the interviewed immigrants, who at the time of the interview had the necessary documents for their stay in Ukraine, admitted that they had been in an unregulated legal status for some time in the past. This situation occurred among representatives of different gender, age and educational groups.
The key institution for regulating the legal status of foreigners in Ukraine is the State Migration Service. The study revealed several scenarios of contacting the migration service in the process of obtaining documents. A little more than half of the interviewees applied to the migration service on their own, others used the help of intermediaries. The interviewees predominantly cooperated with representatives of international and non-governmental organizations (UNHCR, Right to Protection, HIAS, Rokada). Rarely, individuals were referred to the migration service by familiar Ukrainians or compatriots. The post-war revival of Ukraine should include the modernization of the State Migration Service activity in order to improve the practice of regulating the legal status of foreigners.
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