Integration Before Entry?: Immigration Control through Language and Country Knowledge Requirements
39 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 12, 2009
This paper sets out to answer two related questions: (1) what is the major motivation behind integration-from-abroad requirements, which include tests and language courses administered at a migrant’s point of origin?, and (2) what accounts for differences between new programs? After considering the significance and empirical differences of pre-entry integration programs in Western European states, I illustrate how mandatory language and country knowledge training from abroad primarily represent a decisive, strategic, and growingly effective instrument for immigration control. I root the political opportunity for integration controls in supranational, EU Directives on Family Reunification and Status of Third Country Nationals. I also look more closely at the Dutch Civic Integration from Abroad exam to show the effects of controls on family-based visa categories and certain nationalities affected by this “integration” test. Following this examination of the Dutch model, I account for differences between state practices by discussing the process of policy learning and the role of domestic blocking factors, including cost, feasibility, and judicial opposition. I conclude that this stratified convergence in immigration policy yields important consequences not only on the immigration experience itself but also a critical rethinking on the role and instrumentalism of integration in contemporary ethnic relations.
Keywords: immigration, civic integration, Netherlands, family reunification
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