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A ticket to mobility? Naturalisation and subsequent migration of refugees after obtaining asylum in the Netherlands

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Research on migrants to European countries commonly assumes that with naturalisation, migrants’ futures are closely linked to the receiving country. However, from a transnational perspective, citizenship acquisition does not necessarily lead to permanent settlement. Apart from the right to stay in the country, citizenship provides for extensive mobility rights and the freedom to settle elsewhere. This mobility premium may be particularly acute for refugees, and previous research indeed shows that EU citizenship is key in their international movement. Yet, knowledge of the demography, socio-economic profile and scale of subsequent movement of new citizens of refugee background is limited. We therefore test the ‘naturalisation-as-a-ticket-to-mobility’ thesis for a large and heterogeneous group of refugees who received asylum in the Netherlands. Based on longitudinal data, we follow an entire cohort of refugees registered in the Dutch municipal registers between 1995 and 1999 (N = 60,218) over a period of almost two decades. We examine for whom and under which conditions naturalisation results in subsequent international migration. Results from Cox models reveal that citizenship acquisition is generally associated with settlement in the Netherlands. However, for refugees receiving welfare benefits and those with a ‘weak passport’ prior to naturalisation, Dutch citizenship increases the likelihood of subsequent migration.

    Research areas

  • Citizenship, subsequent migration, refugees, mobility, mobility capital
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Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jun 2019