The aim of this research was to further understanding of refugee integration in the UK by focusing upon onward migration after dispersal. The rationale of UK dispersal policy, implemented by the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, was to ‘spread the burden’ of housing asylum seekers across the UK and discourage long-term settlement in the South East. The impact of a policy regime that determines the geography of refugees’ movements upon long term integration has been largely neglected. Instead, the majority of literature has critiqued dispersal policy as part of the restrictive and deterrent UK asylum apparatus. This research explored how onward migration after dispersal can provide insights into refugee integration by examining the structural and individual agency factors that influence migration decisions. The key research objectives were:
- To map the geography of onward migration amongst dispersed refugees across the UK.
- To explore the main factors that influence individuals and/or households to migrate (or not) and how this impacts upon the process of refugee integration.
- To consider the policy implications for different levels of governance, service providers and the voluntary sector, in terms of the impact of UK dispersal upon refugee migration and integration.
The project addressed these questions through quantitative analysis and in-depth interviews with refugees across the UK. The project ran for two years from October 2012.