Impact of Admission Criteria on the Integration of Migrants (IMPACIM) December 2011 – October 2012


This transnational comparative project, which was coordinated by COMPAS, investigated the impact of admission criteria that impose restrictive conditions of stay (in particular those relating to jobs, services, benefits and voting), on the economic, social, cultural and political integration of third country nationals (TCN) in four EU Member States: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Family migration among TCN migrants is a significant migration channel to many European states. For a long time, having family members join their families has been understood as a positive step for the integration of migrants and has some protection through human rights legislation. This assumption has been increasingly questioned, however, with concerns expressed about the possible slowdown effects of family migration on the integration of some migrant communities.

Despite these concerns, and the numerical significance of this migration channel, not enough is known about family migrants. To contribute to a better understanding of this important topic, the IMPACIM project aimed to identify, analyse and explain more about the integration of TCN family migrants, offering indications of the role that states play in shaping opportunities for legal migrants’ full economic, social, cultural and political participation.

Principal Investigator

Sarah Spencer
Caroline Oliver


Hiranthi Jayaweera
Vanessa Hughes


European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

Professionals' Advisory Group

European Forum for Migration Studies (efms), Bamberg
Erasmus University of Rotterdam
University Complutense Madrid

News & Media

Light of Evidence 2: the wider debate on migration
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Versta je me? (Do you understand me?)
Blog | COMPAS Communications

The Love of Learning: Migrants and Education
Blog | COMPAS Communications

An exclusive party?
Blog | COMPAS Communications

Caroline Oliver interviewed on Eye on Wales
BBC Radio Wales | 27 Oct 2013


Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, UK


European UnionFamilyIntegrationPoliciesWelfare




The research is grounded in scholarship around citizenship and belonging, welfare states and migration, national sovereignty and international law, equality and discrimination, gender, family migration and integration. It draws on the work of a range of scholars, including Yasemin Soysal, Seyla Benhabib, Linda Bosniak and Diane Sainsbury.


The project began with reviews of the relevance of the European legal framework and of the welfare state traditions in the countries studied, as well as a consideration of relevant academic debates, particularly on immigrant integration. Each country team produced national reports setting out the legal framework of access and restrictions to a number of key services and benefits for TCN family migrants, as well as the rationales for them provided by their governments. These were summarised in a transnational report.

National teams then undertook analysis of existing datasets to gain insight into family migrants’ characteristics and examined associations between immigration status (entry as family migrants) and integration across a number of areas (e.g. employment, education). Finally, the partners engaged in fieldwork nationally and in two selected local case-study areas, including interviews or focus group discussions with national and local/municipal policymakers, consultants and representatives from migrant community organizations. Across the countries, 118 interviewees took part. Country teams presented their emerging findings in seven policy workshops for feedback.

For the UK report, researchers analysed the Quarterly Labour Force survey and conducted 43 interviews nationally and locally with policy-makers, council officials and NGOs in two case-study areas 4 with high concentrations of family migrants, in Reading and Birmingham. Feedback was also sought on emerging findings during two policy-workshops held in those cities.


The research revealed important variations in the extent to which admissions-related restrictions on post-entry access to jobs, public services, welfare benefits and voting exist for TCN family migrants across the four countries. It was found that for the majority of family migrants, restrictions are limited in relation to access to the labour market, compulsory education and healthcare. Regulations become more significant (albeit in some countries more than others) in relation to welfare benefits, social housing, voting and post-compulsory education (including access to language classes). In Germany and Spain, once admission is granted, there are currently few restrictions that regulate access to services for family migrants. In the Netherlands and the UK there are notable restrictions on access to public funds for five years after entry and limited or no financial support for post-compulsory education for specific periods. In all four countries, family migrants face a distinctive condition: that for varying time periods their residency relies on their continued relationship with their sponsor.

The research exposed that although there is a concern about the integration of family migrants among policymakers (particularly in the UK and the Netherlands) at a local level there is often no specific policy focus on their integration. In Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, it is often assumed at this local level that family migrants may experience ‘easier’ integration than other migrant groups because of the support of family members. However, across all of the countries, family migrants may experience some consequences for integration arising from the restrictions. Due to the limited national data available on this group, it was not possible to assess in all circumstances the extent of these problems, how far they are specific to family migrants or to what extent they are shared with other migrant groups.


IMPACIM: The Impact of Restrictions and Entitlements on the Integration of Family Migrants. A Comparative Report
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

IMPACIM: The Impact of Restrictions and Entitlements on the Integration of Family Migrants. Executive Summary
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

IMPACIM: The Impact of Restrictions and Entitlements on the Integration of Family Migrants. National Report UK
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

IMPACIM: Mapping the Conditions of Stay and the Rationale for Entitlements and Restrictions for Family Migrants in the United Kingdom
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

IMPACIM: Country Case Study on the Impacts of Restrictions and Entitlements on the Integration of Family Migrants: Qualitative Findings United Kingdom
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

IMPACIM: Analysis of Existing Quantitative Data on Family Migration: United Kingdom
Reports | COMPAS Communications | 2013

Background Papers

Impact of Admission Criteria on the Integration of Migrants (IMPACIM)
Background paper and project outline | Apr 2012

Family Migration and Access to Social and Economic Rights under the Legal Regimes of the EU and the Council of Europe
Background paper | Nuala Mole |  Jun 2013

Changing European Welfare States and the Evolution of Migrant Incorporation Regimes
Background paper | A.C. Hemerijk, T.P. Palm, E. Entenmann, F.J. Van Hooren | May 2013

The Impacts of Rights on Family Migrants’ Integration in Europe: Literature Review
Background paper | Friedrich Heckmann, Doris Lüken-Klaßen | Oct 2013

Transnational Mapping Report
Background report | Carolina Ivanescu, Semin Suvarierol | Sep 2013

Country Reports

National Report – Germany
National Report – Netherlands
National Report – Spain

Working Papers*

Country mapping reports of the entitlements and restrictions for family migrants

Mapping Report – Germany
Mapping Report – Netherlands
Mapping Report – Spain

Case study reports

Qualitative Report – Germany
Quantitative_Report – Germany

Qualitative Report – Netherlands
Quantitative Report – Netherlands

Qualitative Report – Spain
Quantitative Report- Spain

Please note that papers in this section are working papers ONLY and were produced by the IMPACIM team to develop their own knowledge and thinking of this area of research, with the aim of contributing towards the final reports of the project. If you would like to quote these reports, please seek explicit consent from the relevant authors (contact details are given in the reports). The reports in this section must not be used or quoted without the authors’ consent.

Other media

Immigrants and Access to Public Services
ESRC evidence briefing | August 2013

What are the consequences of changing policies for family migrants in the UK?
Podcast | 12 July 2013



The project provided a platform for family migrants to be considered within the agenda of local, national and European policy-makers. Events were held in Reading, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Leeuwarden, and Bamberg, as well as at the national meeting of the ‘Qualitätszirkel’ representing administrators of integration policy of 34 cities in Germany in Saarbrücken in September 2013. A final Roundtable event was held in Brussels in partnership with the Migration Policy Institute, with participation of figures from the European Commission, Dutch government, Vice Mayor of the City of Rotterdam and a variety of European civil society groups and think-tanks.

Specialist input was commissioned from Professor Anton Hemerijck, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University Amsterdam; and Nuala Mole, founder of the Aire Centre.