Improving the Living and Labour Conditions of Irregularised Migrant Households in Europe (I-CLAIM)

I-CLAIM investigates the living and working conditions of migrant households with precarious legal status in Europe

The goal of the I-CLAIM project is to uncover the spectrum and drivers of migrants’ irregular status, as well as the impact it has on migrant families, through an intersectional and intergenerational lens. 

The project combines the need to advance scientific knowledge and theorisation on the production of irregularity with the urgency to contribute to policy and public debates aimed at improving the lives of undocumented migrant households in Europe. Notably, it introduces the concept of “irregularity assemblages” to capture how irregularity is produced by the interplay of immigration and asylum laws, policies and practice; broader labour market and welfare regimes; and dominant public narratives and perceptions. This understanding underpins the co-design, assessment, and validation of policy options and public interventions that target place-specific, sectoral, and intersectional criticalities and vulnerabilities experienced by a range of people with uncertain or no legal status in Europe.

Public Engagement

The project achieves its overarching ambition to inform public and political debates on irregularised migration by engaging with relevant European, national, local, and sectoral actors at all stages of the research process. These include labour unions and migrant rights’ organizations in six countries. 


Methodologically, the project applies policy and discourse analysis of the legal and narrative frameworks that produce a complex infrastructure of irregularity in Europe. It also employs survey experiments to capture public perceptions of irregularity and ethnographies of labour market sectors with high numbers of undocumented migrants and varying degrees of digital platform penetration (agri-food, care and domestic work, and logistics and delivery). The project also utilizes collaborative, multimodal, and art-based research methods.


The I-CLAIM project consists of four closely linked research streams (or work packages) that collectively constitute the “irregularity assemblage”. 

  • The first stream examines the politics of irregularity at the intersection of immigration, labour, and welfare regimes and how it has been affected by recent geopolitical events such as Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine (WP3).
  • The second stream analyses political, media, and public narratives and counter-narratives on irregular migrants and irregular migration. It also offers unique insights into how the public perceives the phenomenon (WP4).
  • The third stream uses in-depth qualitative and ethnographic methods to focus on key labour sectors where people with irregular or precarious immigration status are employed. It explores how these sectors operate, migrants’ experiences of mobility (social and geographical) within and across sectors, and the tactics used by undocumented migrant workers to challenge labour exploitation. It also casts light on the impact of precarious status on migrant households (WP5).
  • The fourth research stream brings together the different dimensions and scales of the analysis, comparatively examining critical sectors of the labour market, processes of racialization and how they intersect with the “irregular condition”, and the gendered, intergenerational impact of irregularity (WP6).

Throughout the project, I-CLAIM establishes and sustains dialogue with relevant policymakers, civil society actors, trade unions, and migrants’ rights organizations around ideas, lessons, and actions to improve the conditions of undocumented migrants in Europe (WP7).


The I-CLAIM research is led by academic institutions in six European countries: Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think-tank with unique expertise in EU and international policy research, acts as a bridge between research and knowledge exchange, providing a truly European and global perspective for the project.

At an EU level, our impact and engagement activities draw on the unique expertise and networks of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

At a country level, the national impact and engagement partners are central to developing policy options and public interventions to improve the conditions of migrants with precarious legal status and their families. They include the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (United Kingdom), the Association for Legal Intervention (Poland), ActionAid (Italy), FairWork (Netherlands), the Deaconess Foundation (Finland), and the Catholic Forum “Living in Illegality” (Germany). In addition, the art gallery Centrala (United Kingdom) will lead artistic residences across Europe.

Find out more about the I-CLAIM Consortium

The University of Birmingham research team


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The I-Claim project