All posts by Beatriz Martinez

Content writer and social media manager. Expert in SEO and bilingual English/Spanish, I usually write on migration, news and lifestyle.

Latin Americans moving to the UK: How did cuts and migration policy reforms affect them?

Latin Americans that moved to the UK from EU countries with high unemployment rates are living in increasingly precarious circumstances – usually under financial hardship and even in debt.

These are the findings from a new report by Leeds University which illustrates the negative impact that cuts and immigration policy reforms have had on Latin American migrants that remigrated to the UK from EU countries.

According to the last census (2011), a third of Latin Americans living in the UK have lived before in another country of the European Union, the majority of them in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and have then remigrated to the UK after gaining EU citizenship.

Despite having EU passport, these newly arrived Latin Americans face a situation of “practical exclusion” from the public services, due to the lack of understanding of how the system works, the language barrier and the reduced number of outreach, interpreting and translating services in the public services after the recent cuts.

Furthermore, the reduction of public funding to the third sector has limited the capability of Latin American organisations to attend and cover the increase in the demand from new migrants.

The report also suggests that the lack of services tailored to the Latin American diaspora – who too often don’t understand the system and aren’t fully competent in the English language – leads to situations where:

The report, published by Leeds University in collaboration with the Latin American Women’s Right Service (LAWRS), also focuses on the impact that new migration policies have had on migrants’ access to public services, mostly by limiting the entitlement of the new arrivals to work benefits and access the healthcare system.

This shortage of resources has lead to vulnerable situations and a reliance on exploitative systems, worsening the financial hardship and the psychological impact that migration has in this particular group of the Latin American community, undermining their chances to secure a stable economic situation and better opportunities for future generations.

Finally, the report highlights how Latin American women suffer these difficulties especially, as they are often the main carers for children and family.

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This guest blog post was written by Beatriz Martinez, Deputy Editor and Community Manager for Latin Americans at Migreat.  

Read more on life and experiences of Latin American migrants living in the UK by joining the Migreat Latin American community!

Colombians achieve Schengen Visa exemption, as Peruvians wait and Bolivians start negotiations

Colombians no longer need to apply for a visa to enter the Schengen Area as visitors. The measure went into effect on the 3rd of December and put an end to months of negotiations between the European Union and the Colombian Government.

Colombians “reclaim their dignity” with the visa exemption

After the visa lift went in effect, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that “Colombia’s dignity” has been reclaimed and thanked his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy for having lobbied for the visa exemption.

Colombians will be able to travel to the Schengen Zone as visitors for up to 90 days to 22 of the 28 EU states – except for Ireland and the United Kingdom – and to Non-EU countries within the Schengen area, such as Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland.  

Despite the exemption, Colombians will still be required to meet financial standards and show specific documents to prove that their journey is solely for short visit purposes and that they have no intention to overstay or carry out paid activities during their time in the Schengen Area.

According to the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism (ANATO), the air traffic between Colombia and the EU it’s expected to grow by 15% to 20%, boosting the economy of European countries still in recession – such as Spain or Italy – and promoting the travel industry in Colombia.

Peruvian’s visa exemption stopped due to delays in biometric passports

Although Peruvians started the process alongside Colombians, their visa exemption has been stopped due to administrative issues, mostly related to the Peruvian government fail to issue biometric passports to their citizens on time – a vital requirement to ensure the highest levels of security.

However, the Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, reassured Peruvians that the visa exemption will be a reality for their country soon and that they will get the green light early next year.

Bolivians start promising negotiations with the European Union

Seeing the success of Peru and Colombia in achieving the visa exemption, the government of Evo Morales has started a process of diplomatic negotiations with the European Union to secure a similar agreement.

Although according to Ronald Schäfer, Director of the Department for the Americas of the European External Action Service, the exemption is “on its way”, sources involved in the process admit that it will take time to reach an agreement, considering that it depends on complex administrative procedures.

Applying for a Schengen visa? Get your free checklist of documents to apply online with Migreat

Ask the latino community in Europe for more information on the 7 most common motives of rejection of a schengen visa.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Riki Risnandar

Volunteer at Migreat’s Upcoming Migrant Women Entrepreneurs Event

Migreat is organising an exclusive evening event to celebrate Migrant Women Entrepreneurship in the UK and is looking for four migrant women to help us with logistics for the evening.

Inspiring talks from successful migrant entrepreneurs & investors
The private event, happening on the evening of Wednesday October 21st, will bring successful migrant women entrepreneurs and investors together to discuss the stories of their success and how to they raised the funds to start their companies.

Attendees will be able to hear about the backgrounds of these successful migrant women and learn from their experiences. The first panel of entrepreneurial migrants will explore the challenges and opportunities that the UK offers to set up a business; the second panel discussion with investors will provide guidance on how to raise money to start a business in the UK as a migrant. 

Find more information on the speakers and book your tickets here.

There will be allocated time at the end of each panel session for questions from the audience and more time at the end for networking, so that everyone can meet other entrepreneurs and like-minded women.

We are looking for volunteers
Volunteer for the night, and get a free pass to our event. We need four migrant volunteers to:

  • Help with the setup and arrangements of the venue
  • Warmly welcome attendees and panelists
  • Register attendees
  • Hand out tote bags, booklets and feedback forms
  • Support the person liaising with the catering company

The event will start at 6.00 pm but we need the volunteers to arrive at the venue at 4.30pm in order to receive a short training and to help with the set up.

What would I get in exchange for my time?

  • We would cover up to £7 of the travel expenses.
  • You would have the opportunity to network with around 50 migrant women entrepreneurs.
  • Refreshments and food provided by a company run by migrant women.
  • A beautiful Migreat tote bag!

Are you interested? If so, please get in contact with Beatriz Martínez at beatriz@migreat.com and explain to us briefly your professional background and why you would like to help us.

Latin Americans in London: a thriving and lively community embracing multiculturalism

This post is part of a series of blog posts introducing the multiple migrant communities living in London.

Almost everyone in London knows one or two good spot for Mexican or Peruvian food, enjoys the yearly parade of Afro-latino communities in the Notting Hill Carnival or has enjoyed a good book from the finest Latin American writers. But how well do you know your “vecinos”?

Ecuadorian women dressed with traditional costume performing during Carnaval del Pueblo. Photo credit: Flickr.com/photos/hozinja
Ecuadorian women dressed with traditional costume performing during Carnaval del Pueblo. Photo credit: Flickr.com/photos/hozinja

More Latinos in the UK than you imagine

No one knows exactly how many Latin Americans live in the UK, but some estimations from 2008 indicate that from the approximate 186,500 in the United Kingdom around 113,500 live in London. Comparing this number with data from 2001, the community has multiplied nearly four times in recent years, making it one of the fastest-growing communities in the UK.

If you still need more proof on how quickly the community has grown, just visit the main places where the community meet, socialise and do business, such as Elephant and Castle – particularly, Tiendas del Sur -, Pueblito Paisa in Seven Sisters or even Brixton Market. You’ll be surprised not just by the numbers, but also by how dynamic the community is in London.

The community is open for business

The Argentinian Noel Alonso created a successful business from her house in Birmingham
The Argentinian Noel Alonso created a successful business from her house in Birmingham

Latin Americans are a hard-working community, with an employment rate higher than 80%. In recent years, London has seen an increase in Latino-run businesses that cater for both Latin Americans and other communities in the UK. You can read some of their stories and how they set up successful businesses from Mariana Ciancio, freelance writer at Migreat.

Since the crisis shook the European economies, the UK looks more and more to Latin America to invest and create new business relationships. The Latin American community in the UK is now looking for the opportunity to serve as a bridge between both economies and lead UK investors to new markets in their countries.

A Latino footprint to the City

Talentos Group is one of the many Latin American groups that spread Latin American culture in the UK
Talentos Group is one of the many Latin American groups that spread Latin American culture in the UK

Latin Americans are seen as cheerful and colorful people, and despite this view being mostly a stereotype, there’s some truth in it. The community has been able to create spaces where they can express its particular joie de vivre in this too often isolating city. Every year, the community holds important events such as film, theatre and food festivals and even its very own Carnival, that after a break is due to continue next year.

A very active community, Latin Americans have a profound influence on London’s nightlife, especially around Brixton and Notting Hill.

A community fitting well in London’s multicultural character

Latin Americans tend to enjoy London multiculturalism because they are themselves a very diverse community: while some Latinos consider themselves white, there’s an important proportion that proudly expresses their afrodescendent and/or indigenous roots.

Race aside, Latin Americans’ migration journeys are very diverse. While some came directly to London to study, a growing number of them migrated from regions of Europe where job opportunities have become scarce after the economic recession. And let’s not forget, of course, the varied nationalities Latinos represent; Brazilians and Colombians being the most commonly found in London.

Blue plaque that commemorates Simón Bolívar trip to London, where he met another key figure in the Independence of Latin America, Franciso de Miranda. The place where they met, Miranda's house, it's now a museum that celebrates the work and life of both distinguished men
Blue plaque that commemorates Simón Bolívar trip to London, where he met another key figure in the Independence of Latin America, Franciso de Miranda. The place where they met, Miranda’s house, it’s now a museum that celebrates the work and life of both distinguished men

Despite clear differences to the British and other migrant communities, Latin Americans have created local connections and made themselves recognised as fully part of London’s street identity.

 

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At Migreat, we support the integration of migrants within their local neighborhood. Beatriz curates and writes news and guides for Latin Americans about events, local services and offers. The community available on the platform is also useful to answer questions that newly arrived migrants may have related to residency, how to meet people and make new friends and generally have fun in the UK.

If you are new to London or interested in the community, visit us at Migreat Latinos and be part of our growing community!