Category Archives: Migrant Communities

All post related to our early work around community building and migrant minorities

Tuition-Free Online degrees Offered To 500 Syrian Refugees

University of the People (UoPeople) offers tuition-free, accredited online degrees in Computer Science & Business Administration to Syrian refugees.

Free online accredited online degrees for Syrian Refugees
Generously donated in-part by the Fondation Hoffmann, this scholarship is available to all students who identify as a refugee or asylum seeker from Syria only.

The special scholarship will cover the costs of examination fees for up to 10 exams. Upon completion of the funds awarded, students may apply for another scholarship, and thus potentially cover the entire cost of a 2-year Associate or 4-year Bachelor’s degree.

Students only need to prove they have a qualified level of English, completed high school and have access to computers with internet. 

A special policy, approved by the DEAC (University’s US accrediting agency), has been established in order to admit refugees and asylum seekers even if official transcripts and documents of previous degrees cannot be obtained.

How to register for the online degree
To apply for the scholarship, refugee students from Syria must simply start their online application. The online application is divided in four steps.

Before you complete Step 4, you will receive an email from your personal Admissions Advisor.

You will need to reply to him/her and mention that you are a refugee from Syria and you are interested in the scholarship. They will be happy to help you from there onwards.

UoPeople is an accredited online university. Refugee students in camps, moving to a new country or returning home will be able to pursue higher education wherever they are.

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.


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!

EU Asylum Seeker Policies, Country by Country

In the past weeks and months, some EU countries have decided to change the way they accept and process asylum seekers’ applications depending on the person’s nationality and how they reached their destination country. A lot of contradictory information is being shared on social media.

Migreat, the trusted platform for information on immigration, will list (and keep updated) the actual asylum policies for most EU countries and highlight the ones with fair policies towards refugees (as well as pointing out the countries with rules that are not ideal).

We will be updating this article every month [Last update: 25th November 2015]

Germany has re-implemented checks at its border and is now sending back asylum seekers to the first EU country where they were registered. This policy went into affect on October 21st.

During the first week of November, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared that refugees arriving on the German border will be deported back to the first European Union country they entered. It means that Germany is now treating asylum seekers’ applications according to the Dublin Agreement. It is a reversal of the policies that were in place beginning at the end of August, 2015.

In addition, refugees from Syria are not being provided protection in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on refugees. The vast majority of Syrian refugees, who traveled through Turkey or other allegedly “safe countries of origin” during their journey, will only receive subsidiary protection. They will receive the right to reside for just one year rather than three years, and they cannot bring their family members to Germany.

The German government is striving to implement this closure, even though an interior ministry spokesman stated that there would be “no turning back at the borders,” only regulated deportations.

Sweden has re-introduced border control checks too. Swedish police are now monitoring trains and ferries arriving from mainland Europe and stopping anyone without valid travel documents.

Anyone seeking to apply for asylum will not be turned back. This measure is implemented to create a more orderly process of arrival for refugees. The intention is to deter those hoping to cross Sweden to reach other Scandinavian countries.

Read more on Swedish reformed asylum seeking process for Syrians – dated: September, 2015.

France has re-introduced border control checks as a result of the Paris Terrorist Attacks of November 13th. The policy of welcoming refugees will not be changed and applicants for refugee status in France are expected to undergo tight security checks.

France will respect its commitment to helping 30,000 asylum seekers over the next several years.

Read more on France recent reform of Asylum Law and Refugee Immigration System.

Austria plans to construct barriers along its border with Slovenia to control the flow of refugees more effectively rather than stop everyone entering the country.

Austria wants to be able to carry out controls on the movement of people and it will not be a razor-wire barrier like the one in Hungary.

Hungary & Slovenia
These countries have begun building a border fence aimed at stopping refugees from both entering and using their countries to transit to more western countries in the EU.


At Migreat, we regret that only Greece, Italy and Hungary are legally being held responsible for the vast majority of migrants due to the refugee seekers first being registered in those countries. Here the five things you can do to help refugees.

Keep up to date with the European Union’s Refugee crisis on Migreat blog by following us.

Girl Power a la Migreat – a night with inspiring women migrant entrepreneurs

This WednesdayMigreat organised its first exclusive multi-community event dedicated to Women Migrant Entrepreneurs living in the United Kingdom.

Sipra Deb, Keynote speaker at Migreat Women Migrant Entrepreneur Event

Our keynote speech, Sipra Deb (who is the founder and CEO behind The Play Arena) started the night with her inspiring story of struggle and of success as an entrepreneur.

To sum up briefly her advice for other migrant women entrepreneurs wanting to start a company:

  • Take your time to make your research and gather information – do not neglect that part at any costs and study well your competitors;
  • A good business plan
  • If you don’t believe a 100% in your idea, you’d better not do it. Motivation and determination, two of the main feature that will make you successful are powered by passion. You must be ready to dedicate all your time and energy to your company.
  • Listen to your customer and to the market. Be open to new ideas and conflicting ideas and never be afraid of recognising mistakes when you make some.

The evening was then divided in two: “How I started my company”

Michele da Silva, Managing Director of Britannia Student Services; Sally Wang – Director of SJW UK Property Investment Ltd; Susan Fang – founder of Academic Powerhouse UK; Kat Wczesniak, Director at Kat’s Adventures.

and “How I funded my own company”.

Tania Hoyos, British & Colombian Chamber of Commerce; Tola Onigbanjo, founder and CEO of ‘Women4Africa’, Leticia Cabral Calvillo independent international consultant and VP of the Mexican Talent Network UK.

You can find all about the speakers and their bios here.

Each of the stories were rich of take aways and of advice to future business women in the audience. We were happy to see attendees of all origins, colour and background joining us until late at night. The networking gave space for interactions between the speakers and attendees around some delicious international migrant food prepared by the lovely Chickpeas Sisters.


You missed it? We thought of you and you can listen to all that was said on the night from our Youtube Channel.

Packed room, inspiring speakers, passionate exchanges and positive energy were all there, and we want to thank our speaker and all attendees to have made this event a memorable success.


More photos from the event here. Join our linkedin group for Entrepreneurial Migrant Women here.

Stay connected to @Migreat on Twitter to learn about our next event.

Can Tech help refugees? Take-Aways of #Techfugees conference and Hackathon

On October 1st and 2nd, leaders in the Tech Community gathered in London to brainstorm about what mobile and web technologies could be created that could help refugees find new homes and begin their new lives in Europe. Migreat was there, to present a prototype of an immigration assistant aimed at refugees and to participate in the effort. Here’s a recap of the intense two days and some of the main ideas that came out of the event.

A Spontaneous Reaction from the Tech Community
The event was organised in just two weeks time via a Facebook group led by Mike Butcher and supported by many other local industry representatives like Nesta,  London Tech Advocates, Skills MattersPavla Kopecna and the Exponential Network who offered space, sponsorship and support during the event.

Over two days, a group of 300 software developers, tech enthusiasts, NGOs and institutions like the UNHCR discussed, demonstrated and started building  technologies that have the potential to do things like save lives at sea and help refugees navigate the EU geography and immigration systems.

Here is the full agenda and live-stream of the presentation and participants


Migreat presented and demo’d its immigration wizard and community platform that serves over two million migrants in Europe today.

We were impressed by What3words mapping technology, inspired by Marieme Jamme speaking as a refugee herself (and who is now a successful entrepreneur) and left energized by the UNHCR’s visionary talk.

The first day demonstrated how complex the crisis is and moved Ed Saperia to write on the hackpad the day after “A lot of people are building a lot of things all across the world, much of which is duplicated or never makes it to deployment. So (..) have  a look at other things people are doing” before building something yourself, Ed advised.

Techfugee Hackathon
Now hacking!

At the hack, the atmosphere was definitely more collaborative than competitive. Teams of volunteer software developers were split amongst small tables and given a common online hackpad with information from the previous day. Some people roamed the room to exchange information on what each table’s project was on and to connect similar/complimentary projects.

Migreat’s Experience
We met a group building an online platform to connect refugee families to local UK host families – and it made us want to share our experience developed while building local online communities with Migreat.

We discussed with the Hack Humanity group the possibility of building an algorithm of probability of refugee applications approval.

Refugee Immigration Wizard App

The event brought food for thoughts for Migreat team who proudly presented an immigration wizard for refugees at the end of the night (above).

Outcome & the future of Techfugees
Serving as a platform to connect concerned individuals and organisations, the event successfully showed  how the UK tech community can collaborate and work towards solutions to what looks to be one of EU’s most pressing issues.

Techfugees hackathon group picture

The event enabled the creation of a crowd-sourced map of organisations, and connections between them. The hackpad is still being updated with new events everyday since the event earlier this month and has started an online exchange of information between people building similar projects at the European level.

One of the essential goal of the Techfugees, says Mike Butcher is to build a “Minimum Viable Product” which in the language of the tech community means to see working prototypes and solutions emerging in the next months. For our part, Migreat is looking forward to launching our refugee immigration wizard 🙂

TechFugees Conference Line-up

Here is the full agenda and video of the Techfugees Conference of October 1st 2015.

03:24 – Mike Butcher – Welcome – Techfugees @TechFugees
10:21 – Sadaf Ahmed – Refugees in Calais – Musafir Collective @Musafir_Kitchen
25:50 – Adam Rodriques – Mapping Smuggling Networks – Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime – @darthsunglasses
44:30Sonia Ben Ali – The Urban Refugee experience – @UrbanRefugees
1:01:33 – Andrej Mahecic – UNHCR – @UNHCRUK
1:24:19 – Klaus Bravenboer – Hack Humanity – @HackHumanityCo


1:58:00 – Peter Conlon – Global Donation widget – ammado – @ammado
2:15:36 – Richard Sargeant – Home Office – @richardsargeant 2:20:35 – Sholi Loewenthal – My Refuge – @sholiloewenthal
2:32:00 – Giles Rhy Jones – 3 words to address the crisis – What3Words – @What3Words
2:43:55Marieme Jamme – The Refugee Experience – Africa Gathering – @AfricaGathering


4:01:55 – Josh – Childrens English language learning app Little Bridge – @Little_Bridge
4:04:05 – Anne Kjaer Riechart – Refugees On Rails – @RefugeesOnRails
4:16:05 -Funding Tech for Good Projects


Gary Stewart @garystew – Moderating panel
Gi Fernando – Founders for Good – @gifernando
Kieron Kirkland – CAST – @kieronkirkland
Paul Miller – Bethnal Green Ventures – @rellimluap
Damian Peachey – BBVA – damian.peachey @
Debu Parkayastha – Mercy Corps – @MercyCorps_UK
Sadaf Ahmed – Musafir Collective – @Musafir_Kitchen
4:45:00 – Marianne Bouchart – Data Journalism & The Refugee Crisis – Hei-Da – @Maid_Marianne


5:27:55 – Paula Schwarz – Startup Boat – @startup_boat
5:33:30 – Katharina Dermuhl – Migration Hub
5:40:20Tara Mikheal – Migreat@taramikhael
5:46:30 – panel moderator Rohan Silva – Second Home – @Rohan_Silva Demos
6:08:40 – Franziska Becka – Hashtag Charity – @franziskabecker 6:12:05 – Frank Khan Sullivan – Project Temp Home – @fksullivan 6:15:50 Pranay Manocha – Refugee Maps – @RefugeeMaps 6:19:25 – Dr Asif Qasim MA PhD FRCP – MedShr – @MedShrOnline 6:22:40 – Helen Campbell / Emerson Tan – NetHope – @NetHope_org
6:29:00 – Raphael Mazet – CliqStart – @Cliq_Start

6:32:35 – Cristoffer Harlos – Migreat – @Migreat
6:36:15 – Mans Gardfeldt – Orphan Gift – @gardfeldt (non attendance) Murtada Alsaif – Written Medicine – @WrittenMedicine
6:41:35Bernhard Niesner – Busuu – @bernardooo
6:45:40 – Sarah Raslan – Aktashif – @sarahrazzel
6:51:30 – John Handcock – British Red Cross – @uxjonh
6:52:40 – Shelley Taylor – Refugee Aid App –
6:55:20 – Mike Butcher – Techfugees Next Steps – @Techfugees

Some good blog post that summarise the day talks:
TechFugees Rally to Tackle European Refugee Crisis by RefMe
We are techies. We are here to help by Nesta
Techfugees in London by Andy Mayer
Techfugees by Lynn

Read our blog post about the event – and for more information visit techfugees’ website

Sweden offers permanent residency to all Syrian refugees

Following Germany’s announcement to drop EU rules to accepted  more refugees, Sweden announced it will grant permanent residency to all Syrian Refugees and Syrian Asylum seekers.

The decision comes in the light of the non resolution of the conflict in Syria and means that approximately 8,000 Syrians who have temporary residency in Sweden will now be able to stay in the country permanently. With permanent residency rights come the right to bring one’s family to Sweden.

In 2012 and 2013, a total of 14,700 Syrian asylum seekers came to Sweden. Together with Germany, Sweden is the EU country which has accepted the highest number of asylum seekers from the war-torn country. 

Warning: these policies were implemented over the summer 2015 as emergency measures. At Migreat, we do our best to update content and immigration information with the latest news – and give you always the date at which the content has been published or update. Check our page on refugees to get up to date with immigration legislation for refugees in Europe

How you can help refugees: 5 things you can do right now

If European leaders do not want to raise the quotas of refugees accepted in Europe, more people will die in their desperation to flee persecution and reach safety.

Here are some of the ways you can help at home – You can also read our blog post about great long term initiatives that helps refugees integrate their new country.

Giving back a smile on Refugees faces Photo Credit Jason Floro
Giving back a smile on Refugees faces Photo Credit Jason Floro

1. Sign an online petition
The first thing that needs to happen is for quota from each country to be raised. Tell your governments you disagree with their conservative numbers by signing a petition.

2. Make a donation
Give money to one of these non-governmental organisation (NGO) that have been working with refugees from the beginning.

  • Migrant Offshore Aid Station: dedicated to preventing migrant deaths at sea. This is the first and most imminent need.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR): providing water, mosquito nets, tents, healthcare. It is important people feel secure and are provided with a shelter for their families.
  • Red Cross Europe: providing emergency health services at central train stations. Many suffer from illness and sickness provoked by the hardship of life as a refugee.
  • Refugee Action: advice about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support. It is important for refugees not only to feel safe and in health but to believe in a brighter tomorrow and be granted civil rights in a country to move forward. This is what Migreat does by providing information on immigration and people at Refugee Action go the step further.

3. Volunteer, offers good or collect for these organisation

  • Offer shelter to a Syrian refugee in your own house:
  • Volunteer to provide care and health services with Doctors of the World
  • Volunteer at to translate paralegal content in Arabic and French.
  • Put #RefugeesWelcome banners at football matches
  • Support WatchTheMed: A network of volunteers are helping migrants/refugees at sea in the Mediterranean. When Migrants are in distress, they can send a mobile phone alert and the charity track their movements on the map and send a warning to the closest authorities:
  • Send books to Calais for the makeshift Jungle Library
  • Teach English and help refugees find a house with

4. Vote with awareness of what is happening

Stay informed about immigration policies of your country at all times by  subscribing to Migreat newsletter, and agree or disagree if they are making sense to you and protect migrants from abuse. Migrants for most have no right to vote. Don’t forget this.


Read more on the refugee crisis and its latest news by clicking on the EU refugee crisis tag.

Refugees Searching for a New Continent – Photographic journeys from undocumented migrants

Migreat spoked with Phil Le Gal,  a French documentary photographer, currently travelling in regions where asylum seekers are found to be entering the EU. Phil tells us about his initial documentary project on the Schengen space, what is happening in Calais on the ground and the importance to paint a more human picture of the crisis in the media.

The Start of the New Continent Project

Two years ago, Phil had formed the project to tour Europe’s in the aim to document with pictures and local migrant stories the human impact of the Schengen Agreement signed thirty years ago – on June 14th 1985.

“[Europe] has been suffering from bad publicity, whether it’s about migration, or about Greece and economics. But so much has been achieved,” he said. “Twenty-six countries without passport controls — you just whizz through and it’s amazing. And the fact that you can have rights in all these countries is amazing. People now take it for granted.”

The project named “the New Continent” aimed first to report on the new borders of the EU and celebrate the agreement’s achievement: a peaceful Europe, finally re-united. But the project went through a major refocus after May 2014.

A defining moment: the rise of extreme rights movements and the Calais crisis.

In May 2014, European extreme right parties – the likes of UKIP, Golden Dawn and Le Front National – won a majority of seats – and soon followed an IFOP poll that stated half of Western Europeans would be in favour for a return of border controls.

For Phil Le Gal, the EU elections was a “defining moment. That’s when I decided to go forward with the project”. Initially, Phil had a map of places where he wanted to go and collect stories. This is how it looked like:

Refugee Europe Map

However, after his visit to Calais and the news of an unprecedented wave of refugees crossing borders of Europe, Phil Le Gal had to adjust his travel plans to accommodate with the news. He no longer follows his map but let the news and refugees tell him which places to go next.

Using a documentary approach to media – he writes on his blog his reflections – coupling this with an embracement of social media tools – he posts daily on instagram and facebook pictures on the ground. He even set up a studio for a day.

Abdullah from Sudan. Photo Credit: Phil Le Gal.
Abdullah from Sudan. Photo Credit: Phil Le Gal.

Phil has now been documenting the refugee’s perspective of the Schengen space and it is working: his pictures illustrated an article from the World Policy Institute and other major media. What he has to say about the crisis seen from the ground is tough and draws a real insight of the current complex situation out of sensationalist headlines, expert ego fights on numbers and empathetic but naive calls.

First Insights.

Calais Refugees Afghani Brothers holding
The two friends from Afghanistan met on the route to the UK. They have arrived in Calais and they say there are looking after each other. They are posing in front of a makeshift shop in Calais’ Jungle.

Phil started in Calais’ named “jungle” – today perhaps one the most embarrassing and mediatic hot spot of the refugee crisis after the Macedonian border and the wall being currently built in Hungary. At the end of the summer, he will have stopped by most hot spots: Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.

“What you see there is an unprecedented of number of people who have reached this area. Calais is unique because it offers three ways to reach the UK: by boat, lorry or train; and it is one Schengen border within the EU.”

Most asylum seekers Phil has met had sometimes little knowledge of European Geography. In Hungary, Phil met an undocumented migrant who asked him where he could find a taxi to Sweden. “They do not know that there is a border in Calais” – says Phil.

With a little sense of Geography, they also all share no knowledge or poor information about their rights in the UK. “Some asylum seekers in Calais have friends or relatives in the UK. They are bilingual with some mostly speaking a bit or good English. They are coming from regions which were, for some of them, previously part of the British Empire. They think life will be better there for what they have been told. They have no idea that they will likely end up living in modern slavery and that refugees can be detained there – unlike in France”.

Over the summer, Phil started distributing disposable camera to them so they can themselves document their journey and life. So far 20 cameras have been distributed over Europe and Phil has had no news yet. “I asked them to get in touch when they are in a safe place”.

Eritrea proud refugee boy
Awel is from Eritrea. He is only 12 and has been living in the Calais Jungle for many weeks.

The summer UK headlines of Calais and a surge of journalists reporting there seems to have empowered migrants – and brought a positive change in the camps. Night lights and water are now available in what Phil continues to call a “shanty town”.

The French Government closed the Sangatte centre, the humanitarian centre and shelter that was build for asylum seekers in Calais in 2002. “The French Government does not want to build a full scale asylum center as a way of not acknowledging the problem”.

Caption: Musa from Darfour. Musa has arrived 3 weeks ago in the Calais Jungle. He has been wearing the amulet around his neck since he left Africa. He hope it will protect him when trying to reach the UK.

“Many of them suffer of post traumatic disorders because of their journey through the Mediterranean. When I meet them, some want to share their stories. They want to talk, talk, talk, and talk to tell what happened – like a psychologist. They want their stories recorded and known; for others that are going to take the same journey, they ought to know better the truth of the way we welcome asylum seekers in Europe”

Phil is at the moment putting together these stories gathered during summer 2015 and aim to release related material in the coming weeks.


Follow the project on social media: The new continent on Facebook, The new continent on Instagram. and web site :

Family members of Refugees may choose to apply for asylum in the same EU country

For many asylum seekers, choosing the country of asylum is already a complex issue – it gets even more complicated when the country they want to apply for asylum in, is actually not responsible for the review of their asylum application under the EU “Dublin” regulation.

Syrian Refugee asylum application

Indeed there is a misunderstanding in the media that asylum seekers can only apply to the country they arrived first. However, the regulation sets out a more complex list of criteria for determining which EU member state where an asylum seeker can concretely apply for asylum. 

Understanding this mechanisms makes it easier to determine the country in which an asylum application can be lodged. It may also allow applicants to join family members that previously applied for asylum in the EU.

Applying for asylum in an EU country where family is already resident
Notably, any asylum seeking applicant with a family member (regardless of whether the family was previously formed in the country of origin) currently allowed to reside in a EU member state as a beneficiary of international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection for instance), can apply for asylum in that same country. It is this country that is responsible for examining the application for asylum, provided that the person concerned expressed this desire in writing.

For example, a Syrian in Italy can express in writing his desire to join his partner recognized as a refugee in France. Unless an express request is made, the transfer won’t happened.

Same mechanism applies if the applicant has a family member in a member state whose application for international protection is pending and has not yet been the subject of a first decision.

An Afghani located in France can apply to join his partner currently living in the UK If that partner has made an application for asylum in the UK.

What is a family member?
Note however that for the purpose of the regulation “family member” does only include:

– the spouse of the applicant or his or her unmarried partner in a stable relationship (where the law or practice of the member state concerned treats unmarried couples in a way comparable to married couples under its law);

– the minor children of couples referred to in the first indent or of the applicant;

– when the applicant is a minor and unmarried, the father, mother or another adult responsible for the applicant;

– when the beneficiary of international protection is a minor and unmarried, the father, mother or another adult responsible for him.

According to French judges, this mechanism does not apply to siblings (CE, réf., 24 décembre 2007, n° 311677) and to extended family. Read more about how to apply for asylum in France on Migreat blog

For example, this mechanism does not apply to a Syrian in Germany willing to join his brother who is a refugee in France.

The “Dublin” regulation sets out other criteria for the determination of the responsible member state taking into consideration the interests of minors, family procedure, issue of residence documents or visas, entry and/or stay in another member state, visa waived entry, application in an international transit area


You can ask further details to Migreat expert and author of this article, Lou-Salomé Sorlin, lawyer in France specialised in refugee law and immigration law (focus on asylum applications – Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc.; advocacy; risks of detention, expulsion and extradition).

Photo credit:

Read more on the refugee crisis and its latest news by clicking on the EU refugee crisis tag.