The project

I-CLAIM aims to investigate the living and working conditions of undocumented migrants in six European countries.

Its goal 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.

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).


Generate new knowledge on the conditions and vulnerabilities of irregularised migrants in Europe.
I-CLAIM introduces a novel conceptual framework called “irregularity assemblages” to analyse commonalities and differences in the experiences and needs of migrants with precarious legal status, as well as the factors shaping them.

Improve the governance of irregular migration in Europe.
I-CLAIM examines the interplay between immigration and asylum policies, labour markets, and welfare regimes at the international, European, and state levels. Rather than viewing irregular migration in isolation, the project considers its interdependence with other policy domains and regulatory regimes.

Change the dominant narrative on irregular migration.
Drawing on the analysis of narrative and counter-narratives on irregular migration, as well as survey experiments aimed at gauging public attitudes and perceptions, I-CLAIM proposes practical interventions to address public misconceptions and build support for policy measures aimed at improving access to fundamental rights, services, and protections for irregularised migrants.

Propose policy measures and public interventions to improve the living conditions of migrants with precarious legal status in Europe.
I-CLAIM aims to develop policy options targeting various policy stakeholders and addressing various protection risks and intersectional vulnerabilities.

Develop policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the working conditions of migrant workers in critical sectors of the labour market.
I-CLAIM provides a nuanced understanding of the working conditions experienced by migrants, the role of irregularity in these sectors, and the strategies and tactics employed by trade unions, migrants’ rights activists, and migrants themselves to challenge exploitation practices and abuse.

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