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Becoming British citizens? : Experiences and opinions of refugees living in Scotland

Stewart, Emma and Mulvey, Gareth (2011) Becoming British citizens? : Experiences and opinions of refugees living in Scotland. [Report]

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Abstract

The overall aim of this project was to explore the experiences and opinions of refugees living in Scotland towards the UK citizenship process and becoming British citizens. In the wider context of the social cohesion agenda, the UK Government has promoted the integration of refugees. Alongside these developments, there have been several changes that have impacted upon refugees including English language and Life in the UK tests, citizenship ceremonies and the introduction of the Active Review. By drawing upon theoretical literature, analysis of secondary data and 30 in-depth interviews the project explored the impact of these changes upon refugees living in Scotland. The research identified four key reasons for refugees deciding to become British citizens (or not). These include instrumental reasons, a search for safety and security, to develop a sense of belonging to the UK and securing legal rights in the UK. The project explored the difficulties that refugees have faced in progressing towards citizenship including costs and the application process. Finally the research examined the relationship between citizenship, integration and sense of belonging. Alongside the substantive component of the project, the research has promoted and facilitated knowledge exchange activities between the University of Strathclyde and the Scottish Refugee Council.