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Controlling Marriage Migration

Marriage migration is a vexed issue in much of Europe. To live in one's state with one's spouse is arguably central to national membership. Yet marriage migration undermines state capacity to control long-term immigration. The tension has become more pronounced as minorities of non-European origin have used marriage to strengthen transnational ties. This introduces potentially unskilled and poorly-adapted migrants. It also aggravates fears of a reproduction of archaic or oppressive family norms, as well as of migrant poverty and segregation.

There has recently been much policy convergence in Europe around questions such as age, economic self-sufficiency, language competency and integration. This project will compare regimes across Europe and will also compare US control of marriage migration with dominant strands in European policy. The aim is to compare systems arising from contrasting historical and cultural attitudes towards immigration. It involves in-depth investigation of the regime in four countries: UK, US, Denmark and France and the establishment of a database that will enable comparison across a representative sample of 15 EU member states.

The outcome will be a study of similarity and difference, offering new perspectives on both European and USA laws. The project will be completed in September 2013 and the results will be published in several academic articles and disseminated via a seminar.

Funder: Nuffield Foundation
MU Lead Investigator: Helena Wray

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