Young migrants to London are keen to start their lives in the metropolis, but find that they are blocked by the toxic migration debate that is producing policies that are ungenerous and unimaginative.
Katrin was born in Bolivia. She came to the UK in 2006, originally on a tourist visa, but then applied successfully for a student visa. The application process has become very demanding – ‘we have to write our life’, she says. Her hearing for renewal, scheduled months after the process began, then shifted later, by which time her original visa had lapsed. Once her renewal was granted, it took her many more months to receive her new paperwork, during which time she felt as though she was in limbo.
Katrin’s story is taken from new research by sociologists Les Black and Shamser Sinha in the report A door to the Future? , part of the European project EUMargins, that documented young migrant lives in European cities. The UK sample was fairly small – thirty biographical interviews with young migrants in London – but produced a richly textured, intimate account of their experiences. The research methodology attempted to make them observers in their own lives too, and drew on photographic and diary records they themselves produced.