Treading lightly: regularised migrant workers in Europe


  • Eugenia Markova University of Brighton
  • Anna Paraskevopoulou Paraskevopoulou Anglia Ruskin University
  • Sonia McKay University of Greenwich and University of the West of England



startup, branding, brand positioning, brand experience, customer relationship and loyalty, e-commerce


This study draws on qualitative interviews with regularised, semi-documented and undocumented migrant workers in seven EU countries, each with a different experience of implementing regularisations as a policy tool to manage undocumented migration. The article examines the relationship between a regularised or documented status and work conditions, including access to employment and social rights. It sheds light on the importance of labour market structures in creating opportunities or otherwise for those with newly acquired legality in the host country. The complex impact of migrant status alongside the importance of a strong industrial relations system to enforce rights at work is revealed.

Author Biographies

Eugenia Markova, University of Brighton

Brighton University

Brighton VBusiness School

Senior Lecturer in Economics

Anna Paraskevopoulou Paraskevopoulou, Anglia Ruskin University

Senior Lecturer in HRM and Leadership
Course Leader - BSc Business and Human Resource Management
Lord Ashcroft Business School
Anglia Ruskin University

Sonia McKay, University of Greenwich and University of the West of England

Visiting Professor University of Greenwich and

Visiting Professor University of the West of England


Abella, M. (2000). "Migration and employment of undocumented workers: do sanctions and amnesties work?". In: D. Cinar, C. A. Gacher, and H. Waldrauch (eds.), Irregular Migration: dynamics, impact, policy options. Eurosocial reports, 67. Vienna: European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research: 205-215.

Bansak, C. (2016). "Legalizing undocumented immigrants, while legalization benefits most undocumented immigrants, deciding how to regularize them is challenging", IZA World of Labor, March 2016, (Accessed: 26 August 2016).

Bloch, A. and Chimienti, M. (2011). "Irregular Migration in a globalising world", Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(8): 1271-1285.

Bloch, A. and McKay, S. (2016). Living on the margins, undocumented migrants in a global city, Policy Press, Bristol.

Bohning, W. R. (1996). Employing foreign workers: a manual on policies and procedures of special interest to middle and low income countries, Geneva: International Labour Organisation.

Cobb-Clark, D. A. and Kossoudji, S. A. (1999). "Did legalization matter for women? Amnesty and the wage determinants of formerly unauthorized Latina workers", Gender Issues, 17(4): 3-14.

Cook, M.L., Gleeson, Sh., Griffith, K.L., and Kahn, L.M. (2018). "Introduction to a special issue on the impact of immigrant legalization initiatives: international perspectives on immigration and the world of work", ILR Review, 71(4): 807-822.

Dzhengozova, M. (2009). "Report Bulgaria". In: M. Baldwin-Edwards and A. Kraler (eds.), REGINE: Regularisations in Europe. Study on practices in the area of regularisation of illegally staying third-country nationals in the Member States of the EU, Appendix A: Country studies, Vienna: ICMPD.

ETUC. (2014). Position on the new European Commission's five-year programme on migration (EC Communication "An Open and Secure Europe: Making It Happen"), ETUC, Position Document.

European Commission (2015). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: a European agenda on migration, Brussels, 13.5.2015 COM (2015) 240 final.

European Commission (2016). Research on migration: facing realities and maximising opportunities, European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.

European Commission (2018). Managing Migration in all its aspects. Commission note ahead of the June European Council 2018, (Accessed: 15 August 2018)

European Parliament (2016). Exploring new avenues for legislation for labour migration to the EU, Directorate General for Internal Policies, Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Mc Govern, C. (2014). EU Regularization Programmes: An Effective Tool to Manage 'Irregular Migration?', United Nations University, (Accessed: 10 August 2018).

McKay, S., Markova, E. and Paraskevopoulou, A. (2011). Undocumented workers' transitions: Legal status, migration, and work in Europe, New York: Routledge.

Menjívar, C. and Lakhani, S. M. (2016). "Transformative effects of immigration law: immigrants' personal and social metamorphoses through regularization", American Journal of Sociology, 121(6): 1818-1855.

MRCI. (2016). Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) proposes regularisation scheme, Press centre, 3 May 2016.

Papademetriou, D. and Somerville, W. (2008). "Earned amnesty: bringing illegal workers out of the shadows", CENTRE: FORUM.

Passel, J. S. and Cohn, D. (2016). Overall number of U.S. unauthorized immigrants holds steady since 2009. Washington, DC: Pew Research Centre. Accessed at:

Piore, M. J. (1980). "Dualism as a response to flux and uncertainty". In: S. Berger and M. J. Piore (eds.) Dualism and discontinuity in industrial society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

REGINE (2009). Regularisations in Europe. Study on practices in the area of regularisation of illegally staying third-country nationals in the Member States of the EU, Vienna: ICMPD, appendix_a_january_2009_en.pdf (Accessed: 14 August 2018).

Ruhs, M. and Wadsworth, J. (2018). "The impact of acquiring unrestricted work authorization on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants in the United Kingdom", ILR Review, 71(4): 823-852.

Siegmann, F. A. and Schiphorst, F. (2016). "Understanding the globalizing precariat: from informal sector to precarious work", Progress in Development Studies, 16(2): 111-123.

Thebe, V. (2016). "'Two steps forward, one step back': Zimbabwean migration and South Africa's regularising programme (the ZDP)", Journal of International Migration & Integration doi:10.1007/s12134-016-0495-8.

Visser, M. (2016). "Reshaping migrant labour market geographies: local regularisations and the informal economy", Population, Space and Place, DOI: 10.1002/psp.




How to Cite

Markova, E., Paraskevopoulou, A. P., & McKay, S. (2019). Treading lightly: regularised migrant workers in Europe. Migration Letters, 16(3), 451–461.