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INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE – GENEVA
International Migration Papers No. 94
International Migration Programme
Irregular economic activities of migrants in the Czech Republic
Dušan Drbohlav, Lenka Medová-Lachmanová, Eva Janská, Dagmar Dzúrová,
Dita Čermáková, Zdeněk Čermáková and Zdeněk Čermák
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First published 2009
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Drbohlav, Dušan; Medová-Lachmanová, Lenka; Janská, Eva; Dzúrová, Dagmar; Čermáková, Dita; Čermák, Zdenĕk
Irregular Economic Activities of Migrants in the Czech Republic/ Dušan Drbohlav, Lenka Medová-Lachmanová, Eva Janská, Dagmar
Dzúrová, Dita Čermáková, Zdenĕk Čermák; International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2009-03-18
©International Labour Office
Irregular migrant / migrant worker / clandestine employment / informal employment /Czech Republic
14.09.02
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International Migration Papers No. 94 iii
Contents
Page
1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1
1. 1. General background ........................................................................................................ 1
1.2. An analysis of migration in the Czech Republic.............................................................. 3
2. Migrants’ Irregular Economic Activities in the Czech Republic (Delphi Study among Czech
Experts) ................................................................................................................................... 5
2.1. Methodology .................................................................................................................... 5
2.2. Research Design............................................................................................................... 7
2.3. Delphi Study Results........................................................................................................ 9
2.3.1. Forms of irregular economic activities carried out by migrants in the Czech
Republic.............................................................................................................. 9
2.3.2. Reasons for migrants´ irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic ...... 10
2.3.3. Basic characteristics of migrants involved in completely irregular economic
activities in the Czech Republic.......................................................................... 12
2.3.4. Estimated number of completely irregular economically active migrants in the
Czech Republic................................................................................................... 16
2.3.5. Future development of migrants´ completely irregular economic activities in
the Czech Republic ............................................................................................. 17
2.3.6. Future development of migrants´ completely irregular economic activities
within selected sectors of the Czech economy.................................................... 18
2.3.7. Impact of irregular economic activities carried out by migrants in the Czech
Republic.............................................................................................................. 18
2.3.8. Goals and measures for limiting the irregular economic activities of migrants
in the Czech Republic......................................................................................... 20
2.3.9. Regularization of irregular migrants and their economic activities in the Czech
Republic.............................................................................................................. 23
2.3.10. The 2004 EU enlargement and irregular migration .......................................... 24
2.3.11. Measures at the EU level in order to limit the irregular economic activities
carried out by migrants ....................................................................................... 25
2.4. Conclusions of the Delphi study ...................................................................................... 26
3. Migrants´ Tough and Challenging Lives (Irregular Economic and Transit Migration in the
Czech Republic – Qualitative Approach)................................................................................ 31
3.1. Main goals, design of the research and methodological approach................................... 31
3.2. Some selected basic characteristics of the set of respondents participating in the
research............................................................................................................................. 34
3.3. Analysis of the performed interviews .............................................................................. 34
3.3.1. Basic migratory types I....................................................................................... 35
Type A – Bondsmen/women .............................................................................. 35
Type B – Independent and with support from friends........................................ 37
Type C – Those who have learnt a lesson and the courageous ones .................. 37
3.3.2. Elaboration on basic migratory types I............................................................... 38
iv International Migration Papers No. 94
Motivation for leaving the source country/or motivation for coming to the
Czech Republic................................................................................................... 38
Forms of arrival in the Czech Republic.............................................................. 39
Circumstances of the performed economic activity ........................................... 40
Life conditions.................................................................................................... 42
Links to the environment.................................................................................... 43
3.4. Basic migratory types II................................................................................................... 44
Type D – Desperate, confused and naive ........................................................... 44
3.4.1. Elaboration on basic migratory types II.............................................................. 45
Motivations for leaving the source contry/motivations for coming to the
Czech Republic................................................................................................... 45
Forms of coming to- and leaving the Czech Republic ....................................... 46
Future strategies of the behaviour ...................................................................... 47
3.5. Basic migratory types III.................................................................................................. 47
Type E - Special types........................................................................................ 47
3.6. Conclusions of the qualitative survey .............................................................................. 48
4. Irregular/Informal Economic Activities of Migrants in the Czech Republic (A Quantitative
Approach)................................................................................................................................ 51
4.1. Methodology and Survey Design..................................................................................... 51
4.2. Results.............................................................................................................................. 52
4.2.1. Sample characteristics......................................................................................... 52
4.2.2. Transit into the target country............................................................................. 53
4.2.3. Economic activities............................................................................................. 55
4.2.4. Satisfaction ......................................................................................................... 57
4.3. Client system.................................................................................................................... 60
4.4. Conclusions of the quantitative survey ............................................................................ 66
5. Conclusions ................................................................................................................................... 69
REFERENCES:................................................................................................................................. 71
International Migration Papers No. 94 1
1. Introduction
1
1. 1. General background
Migrants’ informal economic activities are closely linked with the phenomenon of
irregular migration, as these activities are very often carried out by irregular migrants (very
broadly and simply characterized - as those without necessary basic documents that would
enable them to come/stay/work legally in a new destination country).
At the turn of the millennia, irregular migration was considered to be the fastest
growing component of migration overall. It is estimated that irregular migrants make up 15
– 20 per cent of the world migrant population, about 30 to 40 million persons. The largest
number of irregular migrants (approximately 11 million individuals) resides currently in
the United States (US) (Papademetriou 2005). As compared to the US, estimates on the
number of irregular migrants residing in the European Union (EU) cannot be based on
census results. EU estimates are based on various methods and resources, however
sometimes not fully appropriate, and range from about 2 million (Global Migration
Perspectives 2005 cited by the European Commission in 2007) to 8 million (United
Nations Trends in Total Migrant Stock: The 2003 Revision cited by the European
Commission in 2007). This is confirmed also by the estimates of Martin (2003), where the
EU itself (in the demarcation before May 2004) gained over 0.5 million irregular
immigrants a year, naturally not all going to settle down in Europe.The largest number of
irregular migrants can probably be found in the Southern European Mediterranean
countries (Papademetriou 2005).
When characterizing irregular migration, one cannot omit to mention two other general
processes: trafficking and smuggling, which irregular migration may closely be tied to.
“It has been argued that while smuggling is an intermediary function which facilitates
the illegal crossing of borders, usually with the consent of those smuggled, trafficking
is characterised by coercion and the subsequent exploitation of those trafficked“
(Europol 2005).
Various international studies elaborated by competent organizations (e.g. IOM,
EUROPOL) state that the numbers of trafficked persons are between 700,000 – 2,000,000,
out of which 300 – 500,000 persons are inside Europe (Černík et al. 2005). Though it is
difficult to accurately measure, the US official sources estimate that 800,000-900,000
human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world´s borders each year (see Obuah
2006). However, current estimates by the ILO put the minimum number of persons in
forced labour at a given time as a result of trafficking at 2.45 million. In fact, by 2003 an
estimated 27 million people were held in some form of bondage worldwide, which
indicates that trafficking in persons is, in terms of sheer numbers, greater today than in any
1
The Working Paper was produced thanks to the support of the following institutions and projects:
1) The ILO; 2) Project of the Ministry of Work and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic No.: 1J 057/05-DP1,
“International migration and illegal working activities of migrants in the Czech Republic in a wider European
context”; 3) Project of the Czech Science Foundation - GA ČR, Eurocores – ECRP, Number: CPR/06/E001,
“Trafficking and Forced Labour for Other Purposes than Prostitution: The Czech Case”; and 4) Investigative
plan of MSM 0021620831 financed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Physical Education of the Czech
Republic. Besides the given authors, also Andrea Baršová and Milan Lupták contributed to getting the relevant
information/data.
2 International Migration Papers No. 94
other period of history (of this figure, about eight million are children forced into
prostitution, pornography and bonded labour) (see sources in Obuah 2006). It is apparent
that irregular migration (namely the organization of the transfers) today is seen from the
point of view of financial profit to the biggest businesses on a global scale (Salt 2000).
According to ILO estimates, the yearly profits of the offenders were about $ 31.6 billion
(National Strategy 2005). Of course, besides (and, in fact, through) quantitative aspects,
the irregular migration and related migrants´ irregular/informal economic activities may
affect many attributes of economic, social, cultural, geographical, psychological etc.
spheres of destination countries.
Today, the foreign workforce represents an indispensable portion of the labour market
in the majority of developed countries. Irregular migration and economic activities
performed by migrants outside the framework of the law are a dangerous phenomenon. As
they do not comply with the law and legislation, they contribute towards undermining
democratic systems, which are built on adherence to regulations. In principle, they are also
inequitable. The participants (employers, employment agencies, and, to some extent, the
migrants themselves) profit from breaking the law. Conversely, those who do adhere to the
law, pay the required taxes and insurance, and act in accordance with the regulations
(employers, local citizens, and legal foreign workers) are at a disadvantage. At the general
level, irregular migration and irregular activities carried out by migrants are accompanied
by a number of risks (for example, economic, social and psychological ones), which are
tied not only to the migrant, but also to the migrant’s “new” environment (destination
country), the environment through which the migrant travelled (transit country), and even
to the environment the migrant left (source country) (e.g., de Tapia 2003). These risks are
diverse in nature.
From the perspective of economic risks as they relate to migrants as individuals, it is
necessary to emphasize, especially in the case of irregular economic activities, the frequent
discrimination that occurs on the part of the employer or employment agent. This is
reflected in, amongst other things, lower wages, longer work periods, unstable
employment, and the overall level of subordination that exists in relation to the
employer/employment agent. Irregular activities carried out by migrants lead to the
deformation of the labour market in destination countries (the quality of working
conditions decreases; non-payment of taxes and other deductions gives companies that
employ irregular workers an advantage, etc.). If reliance on cheap foreign labour reaches
an above-average level, there exists a real threat that certain branches will become
“unhealthily” dependent on foreign workers as well as the danger that structural changes
required for desirable economic development will be delayed. Irregular migration also
introduces risks within the social sphere. Quite often, in close relation to formally resident
migrants, enclosed migrant enclaves might be established which might be socially
marginalized and offer no perspective for improving living conditions and integration
within the majority population. The existence of such communities can subsequently be
linked to anti-state activities, including terrorism. Just the migration process itself, and
especially irregular migration, can be linked with other factors that threaten the safety of
target countries (minor crimes, counterfeit documents, organized crime, human smuggling,
counterfeit consumer goods, weapons, drugs, nuclear materials, and others). Overall open
tolerance of irregular migration also deforms the ethical and moral codes of the receiving
society. At the individual level, as far as the migrant is concerned, psychological risks are
at play specifically stress, ensuing from the migration process and integration (or possibly
non-integration), including breaking existing social ties, living in a new cultural and social
environment, etc. Irregular migrants often struggle with stress caused by the “irregular”
nature of their arrival, residence, or work, fear of being caught, and the possible
subsequent penalties. Overall, it is a situation wherein the migrant lives in a state of
permanent uncertainty and, often, even danger. “Psychological” risks also exist at the
local, regional, and macro-social levels, when migration (regular or irregular) can cause
anti-migrant feelings within the majority society.
International Migration Papers No. 94 3
On the other hand, it cannot be overlooked that economic activities carried out by
irregular migrants also bring a number of positive benefits – not only for the migrants, but
also for their countries of origin (through remittances) and the destination country,
primarily for the employer and gross national product (Tapinos 1999).
One can point out that it is necessary to consider irregular economic activities carried
out by migrants as a component of a country’s “grey economy”, not as the cause of it. At
the same time, the informal economic sector is considered to be a structural component of
developed capitalist economic systems. In addition, it can be expected that in those
countries where an informal economic system is widely tolerated by society, the likelihood
of the informal employment of migrants is also higher (Williams, Windebank 1998 cited
by Baldwin-Edwards 2006, Palidda 2005, and Tapinos 1999). All these facts only support
arguments that a systematic research in the given field in new EU member states, in
countries of Central/Eastern Europe (including the Czech Republic), is an inevitable must.
1.2. An analysis of migration in the Czech Republic
At the end of 2007, there were 392,315 foreigners residing formally in the Czech
Republic and, of this number, 309,027 were economically active (Český statistický úřad
2008). It can be expected that a significant part of the economic activities with which
migrants contribute to the Czech economy are performed legally, in accordance not only
with valid legislation pertaining to general employment conditions but also with the laws
governing the residency and the employment or independent business activities of
foreigners in the Czech Republic. It cannot be forgotten, however, that in the Czech
Republic, as in other developed countries, there is also a “grey economy” (Renooy et al.
2004) in which migrants are involved. Like in other post-communistic countries of Central
and Eastern Europe (compared to other developed countries) there is relatively little
knowledge about irregular migration and related migrants´ irregular economic activities
available in the Czech Republic. There are several reasons for this. One being little
experience with migration generally and another being relatively little interest in resolving
migration issues, thus far. On the other hand, there is no doubt that in the Czech Republic –
thanks to the relatively high level of living standard and the demand on the internal labour
market (strong “pull” factors) and also because of the rather liberal legislation and practice
in terms of managing migration/integration issues (typically in the 1990s) – the number of
irregular immigrants might be rather high. Individual estimates, however, have more a
character of “guesstimates” and range between 40 thousand and 300 hundred thousand
individuals, in relation to the definition of an “irregular migrant” and the “method” used
(see e.g. Drbohlav 2003, Intermundia 2005, Fassmann 2006). The Ministry of Labour and
Social Affairs of the Czech Republic estimates the number of irregular migrants working
in the Czech Republic to be comparable to the number of economically active regular
migrants
2
. A somewhat quantitatively different view of the issues of irregular migration is
reflected in the statistics collected by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic.
This authority defines irregular migration in a more specific way: as consisting of the
illegal entry of persons across the state border, unauthorized departure from the country,
and violations of residency laws
3
. In 2007, 7,549 incidents of irregular migration of
foreigners were discovered on the territory of the Czech Republic. Of this number, 62 per
2
E.g., the speech of Minister Nečas (Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic) at the
conference on the Demographic Development in the European Union and the Czech Republic: “Threat?
Challenge? Opportunity?”, Senate of the Czech Republic, May 9, 2007.
3
Violation of residency laws pertains to persons who illegally enter the Czech Republic and then illegally
reside in the Czech Republic, or those who enter legally but do not depart from the Czech Republic when the
permitted residence period expires (Ministerstvo vnitra České republiky 2007).
4 International Migration Papers No. 94
cent consisted of cases wherein residency laws had been violated (Ministerstvo vnitra
České republiky 2008).
To obtain more detailed and structured information about the process of irregular
migration and about migrants´ informal economic activities in the country, one has to
conduct a sophisticated study based on various surveys done in the field. In the Czech
Republic, there have been several studies published devoted to the “Client System”
4
(Nekorjak 2006, Intermundia 2005, Černík 2006) and to the problem of trafficking in
people (Černík et al. 2005, Trávníčková et al. 2004, Hulíková, Kocourek 2005). Despite
bringing some interesting and important results, it is obvious that more is needed to get to
know deeply the whole issue. Still many questions remain unanswered in this field and,
moreover, many aspects may and do change over time.
This Working Paper brings three “independent studies” that differ specifically in the
methods used: “Migrants’ Irregular Economic Activities in the Czech Republic (Delphi
Study among Czech Experts)”, “Migrants’ Tough and Challenging Lives (Irregular
Economic and Transit Migration in the Czech Republic – Qualitative Approach)” and
“Irregular/Informal Economic Activities of Migrants in the Czech Republic (a Quantitative
Approach)”. The report is cemented by the authors’ common background (social
geography) and base (the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development,
Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague), by the common topic (irregular
migration and migrants’ irregular economic activities), studied region (the Czech
Republic), and, last but not least, by common sponsors that enabled that the research was
done and/or the results published.
In our research and, accordingly, in this Working Paper, we use the term – “irregular
economic activities” – for those activities carried out by migrants which conflict with the
law. We distinguish two basic types of migrants’ irregular activities – those that are
completely irregular and those that are quasi-regular.
Completely irregular, or completely informal, economic activity of an immigrant is
considered to be a situation when an immigrant does not possess both a residence permit
and a work permit/trade license or he/she possesses a residence permit (e.g. tourist visa)
but he/she does not hold a work permit or a trade license.
Quasi-regular economic activity of an immigrant is considered to be a situation when
an immigrant possesses a residence permit as well as a work permit/trade licence but
he/she strongly violates work-related laws - e.g. he/she works in a different region, branch
or profession or for a different employer than it is stated in his/her work permit, or he/she
smuggles goods or is employed although having a trade license.
From the de jure perspective, both types of activities are irregular (or rather illegal).
However, when considered de facto, specifically on the basis of the migrant’s “level of
guilt”, there is a significant difference. The fact that there are a number of factual
differences within the framework of migrant irregularity is also confirmed by Tapinos
5
(1999).
4
The Client System is a specific model of controlling the migrant by a „Client“ who organizes the work and
mostly other necessary services for the migrant in the target country. At the same time, however, he/she gets
the migrant into bondage, in which he/she exploits him/her in all possible ways.
5
Tapinos, however, uses not only the ownership of a work permit but also the manner in which the destination
state is entered and the ownership of a residence permit as the criteria for further differentiation within the
illegal/irregular status.
International Migration Papers No. 94 5
2. Migrants’ Irregular Economic Activities in the
Czech Republic (Delphi Study among Czech
Experts)
The economic activities carried out by migrants that are not in compliance with
applicable laws are the subject of this paper. As the activities in question are in conflict
with the law, the options available for a broad research of these issues, especially
quantitative methods, are rather limited (e.g., Chiswick 1988, Heckmann 2004, Jandl
2004). For this reason, we applied the qualitative Delphi method, which is based on
investigating the opinions and approaches of selected experts in relation to the
phenomenon in question.
For the purpose of this article, we use the terms as were defined within the
Introduction chapter. Hence, “irregular economic activities” refer to those activities carried
out by migrants that are in conflict with the law. We further distinguish two basic types of
migrants’ irregular activities – completely irregular economic activity is performed by
migrant who does not possess neither a work permit, nor a trade license, versus quasi-
regular economic activity is tied to a migrant who holds a residence permit as well as a
work permit or trade license but to large extent violates labour- or business-related laws
and rules.
2.1. Methodology
This Delphi method research project is based on the knowledge and opinions of
Czech experts in the field of migration issues. Our goal was not only to obtain expert
opinions from the professionals we addressed and an evaluation of the current situation of
irregular migration and irregular economic activities carried out by migrants in the Czech
Republic, but also to acquire a basic idea of how they might develop in the future. Our
research also did not omit defining goals and measures that could be implemented at both
the national and European level in order to eliminate irregular migration and irregular
economic activities on the part of migrants. Using the Delphi method specifically allowed
us to research a range of topics as diverse as this.
When considered at a broader level, this interactive research technique can be
characterized as a structured group communication process that allows certain
disadvantageous characteristics of group communication to be eliminated
6
and will, at the
same time, emphasize the benefits of group communication
7
(Linstone, Turoff 1975,
Martino 1972).
More specifically, the Delphi method can be described as a method of collecting
expert opinions through a series of distributed questionnaires
8
interspersed with controlled
opinion feedback for individual rounds of the study (Linstone, Turoff 1975, Martino 1972,
Drbohlav 1995). The main characteristics of the Delphi method thus include the anonymity
of the experts (panelists) and multiple rounds with feedback to the preceding rounds,
6
For example, the Delphi method allows the suppression of the influence exerted by a dominant personality,
the pressures exerted by a group on its members, or the influence of the same prejudices and subjectivity
stemming from belonging to the same culture (Drbohlav 1995, Martino 1972].
7
One of the advantages of a group is the fact that the total quantity of information available to the group is
greater than the amount of information held by its individual members (Martino 1972].
8
A technique of in-depth interviews can be used as a flexible alternative to questionnaires (Gordon 1994).
6 International Migration Papers No. 94
which allows the panelists to confront any dissenting opinions indirectly and also to
change their opinion should they feel it necessary (Martino 1972, Masser, Foley 1987).
The Delphi method was first used at the beginning of the 1950s at the American
RAND think-tank as a tool for military strategic forecasting (Linstone, Turoff 1975). Since
that time however, the Delphi technique has recorded rapid internal development. As a
result, not only the scope in which it can be applied has been expanded but it is
significantly differentiated internally as well. Today, there are two major types of the
Delphi technique. The classical form, or “Conventional Delphi”, adds a third characteristic
to the two general ones (i.e. anonymity and controlled feedback), which is a statistical
presentation of the answers. The opinions of the panelists can be represented by a number
of statistical indicators (e.g., mean, standard deviation, median) and not only on the basis
of the majority opinion. This form of Delphi is used primarily for forecasting future
development on the basis of a consensus reached amongst experts (Martino 1972, Gordon
1994, Drbohlav 1995). In comparison, the objective of the second type of Delphi so called
“Policy Delphi” is not to reach a consensus, but rather to analyze a policy problem and to
find possible solutions while still respecting the basic characteristics of the method (e.g.,
Turoff 1975, Martino 1972, Turroff, Hiltz 1996). Systematic evaluation of importance,
necessity, or feasibility of the proposed measures is often used within this type of the
Delphi method (Turoff 1975). Due to the diversity of the topics of our study, we used both
forms of the Delphi method.
When describing the characteristics of the Delphi method, it is important to stress the
fundamental role of the experts, although there is not a specific count of experts required
for a standard Delphi research and usually, their number is not high. According to Gordon
(1994), most of the accomplished Delphi studies used fifteen to thirty-five panelists.
Diversity is an important characteristic of the panel. Generally, the panel should reflect a
broad range of experience and a variety of opinions on the topic under investigation
(Masser, Foley 1987, Martino 1972, Drbohlav 1995).
It is this (arbitrary) selection of experts, together with the structure and the evaluation
of the questionnaires that are considered to be the most vulnerable and thus the most often
criticized components of Delphi research (Linstone 1975, Martino 1972). Furthermore, the
Delphi method as a whole also has its critics (i.e., existential criticism - Sackman 1975,
Rowe, Wright 1999). They primarily point out that there is an insufficient retrospective
analysis of results obtained via the Delphi method. Nevertheless, it is necessary to bear in
mind that a number of Delphi research studies were performed for the purpose of making
long-term forecasts, and thus their validity has not yet been proved.
9
As has been mentioned above, during its early days the Delphi method was used for
military strategic forecasting. Today however, we can find Delphi studies being performed
for technological planning purposes; for example, in the field of telecommunications
(Wright 1998); energy industry (Wehnert et al. 2007), and nanotechnology (Salamanca-
Buentello et al. 2005), as well as in social and environmental fields. Within the latter two
areas, the Delphi method has been applied to transportation issues (Cavalli-Sforza,
Ortolano 1984); healthcare (Hudak et al. 1993); education (Wicklein 1993); housing
(Mullins 2006); climate changes (Wilenius, Tirkkonen 1997); and future societal
development (Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Verkehr 1998). The original
application of the Delphi method for forecasting and planning was thus expanded to
studies pertaining to complex problems influenced by numerous interlinked factors and to
topics lacking appropriate background data (Rowe, Wright 1999, Martino 1972). The
issues pertaining to international migration, and especially irregular economic activities
9
From our own research, we can however confirm a fairly satisfactory correspondence between short-term
predictions and actuality (Lachmanová 2003).
International Migration Papers No. 94 7
carried out by migrants, are thus a very appropriate area for a Delphi study (Drbohlav
1995, Bijak 2006, Kupiszewski 2002).
In spite of this fact, the Delphi method is still not a standard tool for a migration
research. As far as we know, only a few projects in this field of social science were carried
out using the Delphi method. In the US, a Delphi study focused on immigration and its
impact on American cities was completed (Loveless et al. 1996). Within the European
environment, a project concerned with the future development of migration between
Eastern and Western Europe was completed at the beginning of the 1990s (Drbohlav 1995,
1997). Furthermore, a sort of a follow-up study was later performed, which also included a
comparison between the original forecasts and real development. Significant
correspondence between the forecasts and reality has thus been confirmed (Lachmanová
2003, Lachmanová, Drbohlav 2004).
Within the area of irregular migration, the Research Institute gfs.bern performed a
Delphi study in order to estimate the number of irregular migrants living in Switzerland
and to describe their socio-demographic structure and living conditions (gfs.bern 2005).
Although thematically close to our research, this study differed from ours in a number of
methodological and contextual aspects. On the other hand, the Delphi study titled
“Migration und Irreguläre Beschäftigung in Österreich” (Migration and Irregular
Employment in Austria”) (Bilger et al. 2006, Jandl, Hollomey, Stepien 2007) displays
many common methodological characteristics as it was prepared in close cooperation with
authors of this ILO paper. It can thus be said that the Delphi method is an innovative
cognitive tool for international research, especially in the field of irregular migration.
2.2. Research Design
The goal of our research was to expand knowledge of the phenomenon of migrants'
irregular/informal economic activities and of irregular migration. The following research
questions have been addressed:
1. What forms of irregular economic activities occur amongst migrants in the Czech
Republic?
2. What are the reasons behind these activities in the Czech Republic?
3. What is the structure of irregular migrants in the Czech Republic?
4. How many irregular migrants reside in the Czech Republic?
5. What might be the future development of migrants’ irregular economic activities
in the Czech Republic?
6. What are the impacts of irregular economic activities carried out by migrants?
7. What are the relations between the 2004 EU enlargement and irregular
migration/migrants' irregular activities?
8. What measures should be taken in order to limit the scope of irregular migration
and migrants´ irregular economic activities?
In order to collect the answers to the above-specified research questions, we prepared
two rounds of a questionnaire survey. Each questionnaire contained definitions for
completely irregular and quasi-regular economic activities as described above.
8 International Migration Papers No. 94
This Delphi study of irregular migration and migrants´ irregular economic activities
was prepared in autumn 2005. The structure and topics of the study were based on a series
of thirty interviews with selected Czech migration experts that had preceded it. The Delphi
research itself consisted of two rounds of questionnaire survey. The questionnaires were
distributed via e-mail to the experts that were selected on the basis of their direct
knowledge (e.g., working in the non-profit sector) or intermediated knowledge (e.g.,
government workers) of issues pertaining to irregular migration and to economic activities
on the part of migrants in the Czech Republic.
Sixty-four experts were invited to join in the first round, which took place between
November 2005 and February 2006. Of this number, thirty-two participated in the
research. Over the course of spring 2006, the first round was evaluated and the second
round of questionnaires was distributed in May to those that participated in the first round.
The second round was closed in June with a total of 23 respondents. The return rate for the
questionnaires was 50 per cent for the first round and 72 per cent for the second. These
relatively low values are an accompanying characteristic of Delphi research (Martino
1972, Gordon 1994). In the case of irregular migration and migrants´ irregular economic
activities this might be the result of the high complexity of the phenomenon in question
and insufficient available information, which is an “inherent” characteristic of this area. In
addition, completing the questionnaire, especially in the case of the first round, was very
time-demanding process with no money reward.
As is mentioned in the section on methodology, a significant characteristic of every
Delphi study is the composition of the panel of experts. The results of Delphi research
cannot be considered as statistically significant, but only as a synthetic opinion of the given
panel (Gordon 1994). For our research, the sphere of potential respondents was limited
only to Czech experts as the primary topic concerns irregular economic activities of
migrants in the Czech Republic. On the basis of our knowledge, we addressed very
competent experts, who tackle one or more aspects of the phenomenon of irregular
migration and the irregular economic activities of foreigners in an ongoing manner. We
tried to build a panel composed of the broadest possible spectrum of experts with various
professional backgrounds. The panel for the first round included three types of
respondents. Type One (N=13) was represented by academics and researchers (primarily
specialized in sociology) who are directly involved in researching the issue at hand. Type
Two (N=8) consisted of representatives from the most significant non-profit organizations
who are often in direct contact with irregular migrants and thus are very familiar with their
living conditions. Type Three (N=6) was made up of state employees from ministries
(Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, and Ministry of Trade)
and migration control authorities. The remaining members of the panel were
representatives of international organizations working in the migration field,
representatives of the political sphere, and representatives of business and labour
associations.
The questionnaire for the first round consisted primarily of open-ended questions
which we used to determine the reasons for irregular economic activities carried out by
migrants, the impact of these activities on various entities, and goals that should be reached
in order to limit the scope of migrants´ irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic
and the European Union. In order to determine the main forms of migrants´ irregular
economic activities, we put together a basic list of these activities and the respondents were
asked to supplement this list with additional relevant activity types. Some other questions
were presented as multiple choice queries. Overall however, the Delphi questionnaire for
the first round was conceived more as a broad platform of topics and the respondents
opinions. On the other hand, the questionnaire for the second round structured the opinions
from the preceding round in a more “closed” format. Thus even the questions were more in
the form of lists of statements from which the experts selected the most significant ones.
The respondents were also asked to review their opinions from the first round and make
International Migration Papers No. 94 9
any changes should they feel it necessary. For some of the questions, the panelists also
used simple methods to evaluate selected statements. A more detailed description of
individual questions is included in the next section of this paper.
2.3. Delphi Study Results
2.3.1. Forms of irregular economic activities carried out
by migrants in the Czech Republic
During the first round of the Delphi research, the respondents were asked to
supplement the list of forms of completely irregular and quasi-regular economic activities
carried out by migrants in the Czech Republic. From all of the replies received within the
first round, a list of a total of nineteen, sometimes overlapping, forms of migrants´
irregular economic activities was identified. During the second round, the experts were
asked to select the five most frequent activities from the list that occur in the Czech
Republic (Table 1).
Table 1: Most frequent forms of irregular economic activities carried out by migrants in the Czech Republic
(Delphi Second Round; N=22)
Forms of migrants irregular economic activities Absolute Count
Claiming business activities (having a trade license) whereas being employed –
“disguised employment” (so called “Švarc system”)
18
Any form of irregular or quasi-regular economic activity organized by a “client” 18
Violating rules of an acquired visa/permit (this applies to visa for a period exceeding
90 days or long term visa), e.g., change of profession or region, etc.
14
Irregular employment while holding only a tourist visa or after a tourist visa has
expired
14
Foreigners establish a legal entity with numerous partners, who then act as employers 10
The type of activity whereby a migrant possesses a residence permit as well as a
trade license but, in fact, works for someone else as an employee and is thus not self-
employed (i.e., “disguised employment” or in the Czech context so called “Švarc
System”)
10
was selected by eighteen experts as one of the most frequent forms of migrants´
irregular economic activities. Needless to say, this form of breaching valid legislation is
also significantly widespread within the Czech workforce (Horáková, Kux 2003). The
same number of panelists chose as a frequent form such a form of irregular economic
activity whereby a migrant performs a job through an intermediary agent, in Czech context
known as “client”. This type of economic relationship is referred to as a “client system”
and it can be briefly characterized as a highly organized network of relationships, which, in
addition to numerous auxiliary services (accommodation, transport, financial loans, etc.),
ensures the most important thing for foreign workers (both irregular and regular) – i.e.,
work – in return for financial compensation. The work is usually performed though a sub-
contract system for a Czech employer (e.g., Černík 2006, Nekorjak 2006, or section 4.3. of
this report).
In the opinion of the experts, other forms of irregular economic activities carried out
by migrants most frequently include: violating rules of an acquired visa/permit (this
applies to visa for a period exceeding 90 days or long term visa), e.g., by change of
10
The “Švarc System” has presented a long-term legislative problem as far as definition is concerned because
it is complicated, ambiguous, and changing over time and difficult to identify in practice.
10 International Migration Papers No. 94
profession or region, as well as working while on a tourist visa or after a tourist visa has
expired.
11
Another situation that the experts on our panel considered to be quite frequent is
an activity whereby migrants establish a Czech legal entity (co-op) with a number of
foreign partners, who subsequently become employed as opposed to performing their own
business activities.
On the basis of the expert opinion of our Delphi panel, we can generally characterize
migrants´ irregular economic activities as being often organized by a client and ‘partially
regularized’ by having (in present or in past) a visa or permit, although not fully
appropriate for becoming employed. Further, it can be said that the economic activities of
migrants who can be considered as ‘truly irregular’ (they never had any type of visa or
residence permit, i.e., did not enter the Czech Republic in a regular situation), seem to be a
quite infrequent type of irregular employment. The regular entry into the country by
migrants who later become irregularly employed is basically a feature of the majority of
developed destination countries (Heckmann 2004, Baldwin-Edwards 2002).
2.3.2. Reasons for migrants´ irregular economic
activities in the Czech Republic
During the first round of the Delphi research, the respondents expressed their
opinions with regard to why there are migrants in the Czech Republic who perform
completely irregular or quasi-regular economic activities, the reasons that bring these
migrants to the Czech Republic, and why they obtain employment here. The answers to
these questions were subsequently analyzed and systematically sorted into a list of reasons.
During the second round, the experts evaluated each set of reasons according to their
importance using a scale of 1 (key reason) to 5 (unimportant reason). The reasons selected
as most important, as well as those that are least important, are listed in Table 2.
11
A foreigner residing in the Czech Republic on the basis of a tourist visa does not have the right to work.
International Migration Papers No. 94 11
Table 2: Most important and least important reasons for migrants’ irregular economic activities in the
Czech Republic (Delphi Second Round; N=23)
Most important reasons Mean importance
Strong and established lobby of intermediary agents (“clients”) 1.70
High demand for irregular (cheap and flexible) foreign labour, especially for physically
demanding work
1.78
The irregular employment (even of Czech citizens) is a fairly widespread phenomenon 1.82
The procedure for obtaining a legal work permit is complicated and burdened by needless
bureaucracy
2.00
Strong “push” factors exist in the countries of origin of irregular migrants, which are primarily
linked to undeveloped economies and political instability (possibly even to internal conflicts),
which force the local citizens to leave for elsewhere, including the Czech Republic
2.29
The Czech Republic does not have an effective “migration administration” regime for
temporary labour migration
2.36
Less important reasons Mean importance
The Czech Republic is used as a transit country along the way further West 3.52
Labour migration to the Czech Republic is a traditional activity (especially for Ukrainians
from the western part of the Ukraine)
3.29
Entering the Czech Republic is very easy 3.00
Cultural and especially language proximity are a strong magnet, mainly for many citizens of
Slavic post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe
2.95
Uncovered irregular employment is not heavily punished by the Czech administration –
“gentle legislation”, “low level of punishment and fines”
2.95
Note: The respondents rated the reasons on a scale of 1 (key) to 5 (unimportant).
Table 2 clearly shows that irregular (completely irregular and quasi-regular)
economic activities performed by migrants are linked to strong migration “pull” factors.
This primarily involves an established lobby of intermediary agents (clients), a high
demand for irregular foreign labour (cheap and flexible, especially for physically
demanding work), and the fact that the irregular employment of Czech citizens is a fairly
widespread and tolerated phenomenon throughout the entire country. Furthermore,
corruption, which is another phenomenon generally disapproved of but nevertheless deeply
rooted, also appeared as one of the important explanatory factors. On the other hand, the
Czech Republic as a transit country, historical and cultural relationships, relatively easy
entry to the country, and the relatively small penalties for breaking the law were
considered by the respondents to be unimportant within the given context.
The opinions received from the respondents active in the academic sphere differed
from those given by the representatives from the governmental and non-governmental
sector, specifically in the fact that the former emphasized the significance of the demand
for irregular (cheap and flexible) foreign labour more strongly and decreased the
importance of the fact that the Czech Republic serves as a transit point for migrants on
their way West.
The high importance of the demand factor corresponds to some common theories of
migration (dual market theory, world systems theory, neoclassical theory, or the push-pull
model). The significance of intermediary agents (clients) is confirmation of the “efficient”
functionality of social networks as described in the theory of the same name (Massey et al.
1993). The role of institutions - especially the governmental migration administration and
the intermediary (client) structure - refers to the “organized procedure” of the migrant
(irregular) employment process (see institutional theory of migration, Massey et al. 1993).
12 International Migration Papers No. 94
Correspondence with the above-mentioned theories is also confirmed to a high degree
by the similarity between migration processes taking place in the Czech Republic and
many other developed immigration countries (on which some of these theories are based).
The tolerance of Czech society towards the phenomenon of irregularity and its
manifestation in the labour market is also listed as one of the important reasons behind the
existence of irregular economic activities. In this respect, the Czech Republic, thanks to its
communist heritage, is similar to other countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Renooy et
al. 2004). However, a parallel can also be observed in the situation in Southern Europe, as
described by, amongst others, Baldwin-Edwards (2002).
2.3.3. Basic characteristics of migrants involved in
completely irregular economic activities in the Czech
Republic
12
One of the fundamental tasks assigned to the respondents was to specify the structure
of migrants that are currently involved in completely irregular economic activities in the
Czech Republic. The answers submitted by the panel are summarized in Table 3.
Table 3 presents the results from both the first as well as the second round of the
Delphi study. In the second round, the experts were provided with the summarized results
from the first round. Thus, they had the opportunity to review their own positions with
regard to the opinions of others concerning the significance of listed source countries.
They could change the order of importance of the entire list of given source countries from
the perspective of saturating the Czech Republic with irregular labour migrants, or could
re-assess their opinion only on the three countries (Russia, Moldavia, and Bulgaria). These
three source countries were evaluated very differently in the first round – their standard
deviation reached the highest values. Twelve respondents took advantage of the
opportunity to re-evaluate their opinions on the sequence of the countries.
12
Only migrants involved in completely irregular economic activities were addressed in this section due to
easier handling of the issue.
International Migration Papers No. 94 13
Table 3: Country of origin of migrants (according to their citizenship) performing completely irregular
economic activities in the Czech Republic (Delphi First Round; N=24; Delphi Second Round;
N=12)
Note: Slovakia and Poland were both on the original list of evaluated countries. However, as these countries have been members of the EU since
2004, they have a special status (governed by different directives, rules, and practices in relation to immigration) and were excluded from further
evaluation. It is also important to keep in mind that, at the time the research was performed, neither Bulgaria nor Romania were members of the EU.
According to the experts, Ukraine is undoubtedly the most important source country
of completely irregular labour migrants in the Czech Republic. The uniformity of this
opinion, as measured by the standard deviation, is noteworthy. This fact also corresponds
to the number of regular migrants, amongst whom the number of Ukrainians is also
dominant. At the end of 2007, they made up 32 per cent (126,721 individuals) of all
foreigners who hold regular residency status in the Czech Republic. Ukrainians also made
up 62 per cent (2,904 individuals in 2007) of foreigners who were detained by the Police of
the Czech Republic for breaching residency rules (Ministerstvo vnitra České republiky
2008). Further, the respondents also reached a fairly high consensus in their opinions
regarding Viet Nam and some of the countries of the former Soviet Union (specifically,
Moldova, Russia, and Belarus) as amongst the most important source countries. On the
other hand, Canada, the United States, and Albania are not at all important in the eyes of
the experts within the given context. Bulgaria and Romania were somewhere in the middle
between these two polarized groups. It is worth mentioning that the re-evaluation of the
sequence of the countries that took place during the second round of the Delphi research
more or less confirmed the original results from the first round (in an even more coherent
pattern), whereby Russia strengthened its position as a source country – it moved from
fourth place to second.
Country of origin of
completely irregular
migrants (according to
citizenship)
Sequence
Delphi
1
st
Round
Standard deviation
Delphi
1
st
Round
New sequence
Delphi
1
st
& 2
nd
Round
New Standard
deviation
Delphi
2
nd
Round
Ukraine 1 0.20 1
Vietnam 2 2.16 3
Moldova 3 3.08 4 2.43
Russian Federation 4 3.31 2 1.18
Belarus 5 2.84 5
Slovakia
*
6-7 4.89 6-7
Other countries of
former USSR
6-7 2.81 6-7
Romania 8-9 2.49 9
Bulgaria 8-9 3.26 8 2.63
China 10 2.77 10
Countries of former
Yugoslavia
11 2.77 11
Poland
*
12 3.34 12
Albania 13 2.51 13
United States 14 2.95 14
Canada 15 1.50 15
14 International Migration Papers No. 94
During the first round, the experts also had the task of identifying regions of the
Czech Republic that probably have the highest concentration of migrants involved in
completely irregular economic activities and identifying the citizenship of the irregular
migrants in the applicable regions. Prague and the neighbouring Central Bohemian Region
far outweighed other areas
13
. Although it is obvious that the territorial specification of
migrants´ irregular economic activities presented the experts with significant difficulties,
certain trends could be indicated. Russians were localized in Prague and the Karlovy Vary
Region; Vietnamese in Prague and the Czech-German border areas (the south, west, and
north of the Czech Republic); according to the experts, Ukrainians are, following Prague,
most often in the Central Bohemian Region but are also active in many other areas of the
Czech Republic.
Many of the regions in which significant completely irregular economic activity on
the part of migrants was identified also have a high rate of regularly employed foreigners
and also contain the largest Czech cities, from the perspective of both population as well as
importance. This relationship between the territorial distribution of regular and irregular
migrants has been confirmed in other countries (Jandl, Kraler 2006, de Tapia 2003).
The respondents were also asked to identify the main sectors or areas of the economy
in which completely irregular economic migrants in the Czech Republic are active most
often. The results specify a fairly wide range of diverse sectors and areas of the economy
(refer to Table 4).
13
The other regions that were mentioned most often include the region of Karlovy Vary, Ústí nad Labem, as
well as Jihomoravský, Moravskoslezský (with the explicitly specified city of Ostrava), and Plzeňský region.
International Migration Papers No. 94 15
Table 4: Completely irregular economic migrants and the sectors/areas of the Czech economy in which
they are active (Delphi First Round, N=24)
Completely irregular economic migrants according
to source country (citizenship)
Economic sectors/areas
Ukraine
Construction
Auxiliary work
Cleaning
Agriculture and forestry
Hospitality and accommodation services
Industry
Vietnam
Retail
Hospitality
Industry
Services
Moldova
Construction
Agriculture and forestry
Russian Federation
Construction
Services
Sales
Hospitality
Industry
Information technology
Belarus
Construction
Agriculture
Services
Healtcare
Romania
Construction
Hospitality and accommodation
Services
Forestry
Bulgaria
Construction
Industry
Agriculture
Sales
China
Wholesale
Hospitality industry
Countries of the former Yugoslavia
Construction
Hospitality industry
Agriculture and forestry
Sales and services
Albania
Hospitality and accommodation services
Construction
Goldsmith
Note: The sequence of sectors (areas of the economy) does not indicate the importance of the specified activities.
In contrast to the manual types of labour that are performed by the above-specified
groups of migrants (with Russia being the only exception), according to the experts
Americans and Canadians are, in addition to services (hospitality industry), also irregularly
involved in more intellectually demanding activities, primarily translating and English
teaching.
The respondents also estimated the possible overall sectoral structure of completely
irregular economic activities carried out by migrants (Table 5).
16 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 5: Sectoral structure of completely irregular economic activities carried out by migrants (Delphi
Round Two, N=20)
Economic Sector Mean of share of completely irregular migrant
active in the sector
( in % )
Construction 41
Hospitality and accommodation services 13
Domestic services (cleaning, care provision, etc.) 12
Agriculture 11
Wholesale / Retail 11
Textile industry 9
Food processing industry 8
Note: 100% should represent the total number of all completely irregularly economically active migrants in the Czech Republic. However, the values
for individual shares are the mean values for the sector in question and thus the total does not add up to 100 %.
The estimated employment structure more or less confirms what has already been
indicated in relation to the activities of individual migrant groups (see above). Construction
was indicated as the most significant area in which the irregular foreign workforce is
active. The next most significant sectors, amongst which there is not as much of a
difference in the frequency of occurrence, are: hospitality and accommodation services;
domestic services (cleaning, care provision, etc.); agriculture; and wholesale/retail. These
are followed by the less emphasized textile and food processing industries. All these
sectors have common characteristics, i.e., low wages, high demands on worker flexibility
and a low level of attractiveness for the domestic workforce, and are traditional employers
of irregular migrants in other countries that attract migration (de Tapia 2003, Castles,
Miller 2003).
2.3.4. Estimated number of completely irregular
economically active migrants in the Czech Republic
14
During the first round of the Delphi research, the respondents were asked to estimate
the likely number of migrants who are involved in completely irregular/informal economic
activities in the Czech Republic. In spite of the fact that we were fully aware of the
difficulties involved in making such an estimate, we offered the experts a list of options in
the form of ranges, from which they could select the most likely option. The results (Table
6) show that the experts differ in their estimates to quite a significant degree. While one-
third estimated the count to be between 40,000 and 99,999 individuals, approximately one-
fifth believes that the number exceeds 200,000 individuals. There is thus no consensus in
the eyes of the experts when it comes to this sensitive question. Estimating the number and
flow of irregular migrants is a generally complex and ambiguous problem overall (Jandl
2004; de Tapia 2003).
Table 6: Estimated number of completely irregular economically active migrants in the Czech Republic
(Delphi First Round, N=27)
Estimated number of completely irregular economically active migrants in the
Czech Republic (count)
Respondents’ answers
Less than 39,999 11
40,000 – 99,999 33
100,000 – 149,000 19
150,000 – 199,999 19
More than 200,000 19
14
Only migrants involved in completely irregular economic activities were addressed in this section due to
easier handling of this complex issue.
International Migration Papers No. 94 17
2.3.5. Future development of migrants´ completely
irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic
15
Given that the Delphi method is considered to be an appropriate tool for forecasting
future development (Linstone, Turoff 1975, Martino 1972, Bijak 2006), our study also
included questions pertaining to the future development in the volume of completely
irregular economic activities conducted by migrants in the Czech Republic. In the
questionnaire for the first round of the research, our panel of experts was requested to
describe the most likely trends for the development of irregular economic activities on the
part of migrants in the Czech Republic during the period 2006-2010
16
by selecting one of
the offered options (significant decrease, decrease, stabilization, increase, or significant
increase). During the second round, they were asked to submit arguments supporting their
choice.
Twenty-six respondents submitted their predictions for development trends during the
first round, but there was a high degree of variance in their replies. It is therefore
impossible to speak of a clear tendency for the future. The experts only believe that the
development might be gradual and thus there should not be a significant decrease or
increase. Almost 40 per cent of the respondents (N=10) characterized the future
development as stabilization of the current volume. The majority reasoned that the
socioeconomic and legislative status quo will be maintained both in the source countries as
well as in the Czech Republic. Two of the respondents were an exception, whereby they
believe that the Czech economy will grow significantly and, together with it, the demand
for irregular foreign workforce will increase. However, in their opinion, there will not be
an overall increase in the number of completely irregularly economically active migrants
in the Czech Republic, as stricter laws will be imposed along with stronger controls of the
workforce. The end result will thus again be stabilization of the current volume.
Another 27 per cent of the respondents used the same argument (i.e., the growth of
the Czech economy); however they anticipate an increasing trend in the volume of
completely irregularly economically active migrants in the Czech Republic during the
2006-2010 timeframe. One-third of the respondents predict that there will be a decreasing
trend. The latter group based their opinions primarily on the fact that stricter rules and
sanctions will be implemented throughout the entire EU and that there will be internal
changes implemented within the Czech economic system (e.g., tax reforms) which will
decrease the demand for an irregular foreign workforce.
An interesting aspect of the forecasts that was made is the fact that the experts from
the academic and research sphere are highly dominant in the group of respondents who
predict an increasing volume as compared to the other categories of respondents. It is
however impossible to speculate whether their estimates are based on a more realistic view
of the government’s ability to regulate irregular labour migration.
15
Only migrants involved in completely irregular economic activities were addressed in this section due to
easier handling of this complex issue.
16
The research was performed during the 2005-2006 timeframe, and thus the first year for the future
projections was designated as 2006.
18 International Migration Papers No. 94
2.3.6. Future development of migrants´ completely
irregular economic activities within selected sectors of
the Czech economy
In addition to the overall development in the volume of completely irregularly
economically active migrants, during the second round of the Delphi research we were also
interested in obtaining estimates for the development in certain economic sectors during
the 2006-2010 timeframe (Table 7).
Table 7: Future development of migrants´ completely irregular economic activities within selected sectors of the Czech
economy during the 2006-2010 timeframe (Delphi Second Round, N=22)
Economic sector
Decrease
( in % )
Stabilization – no change
( in % )
Increase
( in % )
Construction 23 50 27
Agriculture 19 48 33
Hospitality and accommodation services 5 54 41
Domestic services (cleaning, care provision, etc.) 0 33 67
Industry 33 33 33
Note: The respondents had to select one of the possible development trends for each row.
The majority of experts anticipate a significant increase in the number of completely
irregular migrants involved in the domestic services sector (cleaning, care provision, etc.).
They expect stabilizing or increasing trends for the hospitality and accommodation
services sector as well as for agriculture. As far as industry is concerned, no significant
changes in either direction are expected. In the case of construction, which is the most
significant sector from the perspective of the population under investigation, one half of
the experts forecast stabilization while the other half is fairly equally divided between
those who expect an increasing trend and those who expect a decreasing trend.
The future anticipated growth in the domestic services sector can be interpreted as the
logical consequence of the current and future intensifying process of the ageing of the
European population. A typical example of the relationship between ageing (and its
consequences) and migration is neighbouring Austria, where there is already a great
demand and a corresponding rapid increase in the growth of international migrants,
primarily women, into this sector (Bilger et al. 2006).
2.3.7. Impact of irregular economic activities carried
out by migrants in the Czech Republic
In the first round of the Delphi research, the experts (N=26) generally evaluated the
overall impacts of irregular economic activities on the Czech economy, employers, and
domestic employees (on a scale ranging from very negative to very positive). Within the
evaluation of the impact of migrants´ irregular economic activities on the Czech economy,
a negative perspective of the issues at hand (54 per cent of the experts expressed a negative
opinion)
17
outweighed the possibly positive perspective (only 23 per cent of the experts
predict an overall positive impact)
18
. A significantly negative impact on the Czech
domestic workforce is predicted overall for the irregular economic activities of migrants (a
half of the respondents replied negatively as compared to 12 per cent positively and 38 per
cent neutrally). On the other hand, the impact of the phenomenon in question on employers
17
Within this context, the term “negative” combines the categories of “very negative” and “negative”.
18
Within this context, the term “positive” combines the categories of “very positive” and “positive”.
International Migration Papers No. 94 19
(the subcategory of those who already take advantage of the cheap irregular foreign
workforce) was evaluated by the experts to be fairly positive (73 per cent positive replies).
During the first round of the Delphi research, the respondents were also asked to
briefly characterize the main impacts (positive as well as negative) of migrants´ irregular
economic activities on the Czech Republic as whole. During the second round, they were
then asked to select the five most important positive impacts and the five most important
negative impacts from the list that was created on the basis of the replies received during
the first round.
Filling unappealing and low-paid work positions, a cheap and flexible workforce, and
the development of certain economic entities and branches were selected as positive
impacts most often (Table 8). On the other hand, the experts selected tax evasion and
unfavourable working conditions for irregular foreigners (including salary discrimination)
as the most important negative impacts (Table 8).
20 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 8: Most important positive and negative impacts of migrants´ irregular economic activities on the
Czech Republic as a destination country (Delphi Second Round, N=22)
Most import positive impacts Absolute number
Filling unappealing and low paid work positions 18
Cheap and flexible workforce contributing to economic developments 16
Development of certain economic entities and branches (e.g., construction) 15
Individual households benefit from the presence of irregular workers (cheaper home services,
construction, reconstruction, etc.)
12
The prices of some services and economic services decrease 10
Increased competitiveness amongst employers who take advantage of irregular employment 9
Most important negative impacts Absolute number
Tax evasion 14
Unfavorable working conditions for irregular foreigners (including salary discrimination) 14
Growth of the “grey economy” 11
Unfavorable working conditions will extend to regular employees (foreign as well as Czech)
Tolerance of Czech society for breaching the law (including accepting irregular employment) 9
Damage to the business environment – unfair competitive advantages ensuing from employing
irregular migrants
8
2.3.8. Goals and measures for limiting the irregular
economic activities of migrants in the Czech Republic
We also researched the topic of irregular economic activities on the part of migrants
from the policy perspective using the “Policy Delphi” approach. During the first round, we
asked the experts to propose the five most important goals and/or measure that should be
implemented in the near future in order to decrease the scope of irregular economic
activities carried out by migrants in the Czech Republic. On the basis of these proposals,
we prepared a list of forty-seven goals/measures for the second round, which the
respondents were to rate on the basis of their desirability (on a scale from 1 = very
desirable to 5 = very undesirable) and their feasibility (on a scale from 1 = very feasible to
5 = very unfeasible). A total of twenty-three respondents evaluated the goals in this manner
during the second round. We then calculated the mean level of desirability and feasibility
for each individual goal.
The experience we acquired from our previous Delphi studies (for example
Lachmanová, Drbohlav 2004) indicate that goals/measures which are evaluated as being
the most desirable are also those that are often considered to be difficult to implement.
During this research study however, this tendency was not confirmed. The experts
evaluated only a few of the most required goals as being difficult to implement. The
exception to this rule was primarily the measure that was evaluated as being the most
desirable out of all proposed, specifically an “uncompromising battle against corruption
within the ranks of the Police of the Czech Republic”. This measure’s mean level of
desirability was 1.35; however the level of its feasibility attained a mean value of 3.17.
Table 9 specifies the goals/measures that were evaluated as being the most desirable.
These goals/measures pertain primarily to four thematic spheres. The first is to improve the
conditions for regularly employed migrants. Increasing the flexibility of work permits,
easier acquisition of these permits, and creating a more transparent and “more
accommodating” environment for granting residence and work permits were all included
amongst the recommendations. The proposals pertaining to legal migration channels
included the following: “unifying the administrative procedures for residence permits and
International Migration Papers No. 94 21
work permits” and “creating more coherent immigration policies”, which was also
however evaluated as being difficult to implement (the mean level of feasibility attained a
level of 3.09).
The next group of highly desirable goals pertains to the distribution of information on
migration issues amongst potential migrants and those that are already present, e.g.,
increase the level of information on the possibilities, procedures, and advantages of
regular employment provided to foreigners both in their countries of origin as well as in
the Czech Republic”; “perfect the information system on regular employment migration
(available work positions, the ability to submit CVs, …”, and “information and support
programs for migrants who would like to escape the irregular environment”.
Within the framework of finding solutions to the problems related to irregular
economic activities of migrants, the experts recommended measures pertaining to the
control and sanction mechanisms in place for this phenomenon, e.g., “improving
cooperation between individual institutions that control the irregular employment and
residence of foreigners”. Controls and sanctions should be in place not only for (as a rule
Czech) employers, but also for employment agencies, and intermediary agents (clients).
The fourth topic that appeared amongst the most required proposed measures was the
simplification of deductions (tax, social security, etc.) that employers are required to make
for employees, which would generally be advantageous for regular employment.
22 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 9: Most desirable goals/measures in order to limit migrants´ irregular economic activities in the
Czech Republic (Delphi Second Round, N=23)
Goal/Measure
Mean level of
desirability
Mean level of
feasibility
Uncompromising battle against corruption within the ranks of the Police of the Czech
Republic
1.35 3.17
Increase the level of information on the possibilities, procedures, and advantages of
regular employment provided to foreigners both in their countries of origin as well as in
the Czech Republic
1.52 1.87
Increase the flexibility of work permits for foreigners in certain areas (e.g., provide the
ability to change employers for performing the same occupation without having to
apply for a new permit, protective period in the event employment is lost, etc.)
1.57 2.09
Perfect the information system on regular employment migration (available work
positions, the ability to submit CVs, …)
1.57 1.91
Greater protection for witnesses in court proceedings pertaining to human trafficking 1.57 2.22
A more transparent and “more accommodating” environment for granting residence
and work permits
1.61 2.78
Creating more coherent immigration policies 1.61 3.09
Simplifying and speeding up the process for the regular employment of foreigners 1.65 2.35
Effective control and sanctions system for employers of irregular migrants (including
“clients”)
1.65 2.87
Information and support programs for migrants who would like to escape the irregular
or quasi-regular environment
1.70 2.48
Improving cooperation between individual institutions that control the irregular
employment and residence of foreigners
1.70 2.70
Unifying the administrative procedures for residence permits and work permits 1.78 2.48
Acquire control over the activities of intermediary agencies 1.78 3.43
Simplify tax regulations and the regulations in place for social security deductions 1.78 2.74
Decrease deductions and the tax burden in order to ensure that legal employment is
more advantageous for employers
1.78 2.91
On the basis of the evaluations performed by the experts, we can also select
goals/measures that could be applied in practice. These are goals/measures that were
evaluated as highly desirable as well as feasible. They could thus significantly contribute
International Migration Papers No. 94 23
towards eliminating irregular activities carried out by migrants and, at the same time, their
implementation is possible at the current time (Table 10).
Table 10: Goals/measures for limiting migrants´ irregular economic activities that can be applied in
practice (Delphi Second Round, N=23)
Goal/Measure
Mean level of
desirability
Mean level of
feasibility
Increase the level of information on the possibilities, procedures, and advantages of
regular employment provided to foreigners both in their countries of origin as well as in
the Czech Republic
1.52 1.87
Perfect the information system on regular employment migration (available work
positions, the ability to submit CVs, …)
1.57 1.91
Increase the flexibility of work permits for foreigners in certain areas (e.g., provide the
ability to change employers for performing the same occupation without having to
apply for a new permit, protective period in the event employment is lost, etc.)
1.57 2.09
Greater protection for witnesses in court proceedings pertaining to human trafficking 1.57 2.22
Simplifying and speeding up the process for the regular employment of foreigners 1.65 2.35
Unifying the administrative procedures for residence permits and work permits 1.78 2.48
Acquire the cooperation of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in
source countries for the purpose of distributing information on the conditions for
regular employment in the Czech Republic
1.83 2.35
On the basis of the replies we received from our respondents, we can thus state that
important goals/measures, which should be implemented, should be targeted at supporting
the distribution of information on the regular options for employing migrants in the Czech
Republic in the source countries in cooperation with local governmental and
nongovernmental organizations. In addition, the system in place for issuing work permits
should be simplified, better connected with the issuance of residence permits, and, at the
same time, the conditions bound to the permits should be relaxed. An increased level of
protection should be guaranteed for witnesses participating in proceedings pertaining to
human trafficking, which would increase the effectiveness of the battle against human
trafficking and the organized crime that is involved.
2.3.9. Regularization of irregular migrants and their
economic activities in the Czech Republic
One of the tools, however a rather controversial one, a state might use to limit the
volume of irregular migrants is a regularization/legalization of a certain defined irregular
migrant population. There are many different forms and modes of regularization process
that turns irregular status of a migrant to a legal one (see e.g., de Bruycker 2000).
However, leaving aside possible variations of regularization, we addressed this issue in a
general manner asking our panelists in the first round what are their opinions towards this
ambiguous policy option. Furthermore, in the time of our Delphi research a public debate
on this contentious issue has been opened by several non-governmental organizations in
the Czech Republic (under the project titled Regularization of irregular migration). Hence,
our Delphi question pertaining to the issue of a possible regularization in the Czech
Republic can be seen as a small “expert opinion poll”.
24 International Migration Papers No. 94
Out of twenty-seven respondents of this question, almost a half (N=13) expressed
their pro-regularization opinions, usually supporting it in a form of a one-off action for
certain clearly defined categories of irregular migrants. Six panelists were against a
regularization process in the Czech Republic. Opinions of other eight experts could be
characterized as neither pro-oriented, nor disagreeing. Thus, no clear tendency within our
panel occurred.
However, what did occur was a strong division of opinions regarding different types
of respondents. Experts from the non-governmental sphere who answered the given
question (N=6) accepted unequivocally the possibility of a regularization in the Czech
Republic. On the other hand, those who strongly opposed the idea of a possible
regularization were mainly panelists from the governmental sphere and a politician.
Accordingly, this result is in harmony with the often declared view of Czech state officials
on this issue. Panelists from the academic sphere were present in all three opinion streams.
The issue of regularization also appeared in our Delphi survey with regard to
desirable and feasible policy goals/measures for limiting migrants´ irregular economic
activities. However, the proposed regularization measures (in a form of free leaving the
country without any punishment or of a well-prepared regularization for specific categories
of migrants) were evaluated as not so much desirable (2.61 for both) as well as not highly
feasible (2.83 and 3.17 respectively). Within the whole group of goals/measures
recommended by the experts they ranked in both categories (desirability and feasibility)
among the last ones.
2.3.10. The 2004 EU enlargement and irregular
migration
Also, we tried to explicitly tackle an important issue as to how irregular economic
activities of Czech migrants are tied to a broader European dimension. This issue is, of
course, relevant to the EU enlargement, to enabling a free movement of a labour force
within the Union and, thus, to real and potential migratory movements of the newly
accepted countries, including the Czech Republic.
The statement that “Restrictions of the former member EU countries which limit the
inflow of labour migrants from the new EU countries should be eliminated by 2011” is
supported by strong majority of the experts (44 per cent strongly agree and 40 per cent
agree versus only 4 per cent do not agree and further 4 per cent do not know – it concerns
the second Delphi round, N=23). In the same way, another opinion has clearly crystallized.
The statement that “Elimination of such restrictions (that limit the inflow of labour
migrants from the new EU countries to the old ones) would cause an increase of irregular
economic activities in the old EU member countries” is opposed by 80 per cent of
respondents (70 per cent do not agree and 9 per cent strongly disagree versus 17 per cent
agree and 4 per cent do not know – these results come from the second Delphi round,
N=23). Similarly, rather a strong negative opinion (from the first Delphi round, N=31) is
linked with a statement that: “After elimination of restrictions of the “old” EU member
countries for the new ones, there will be a significant increase of East-West migration
(especially in border zone areas of Austria and Germany)”; 68 per cent disagreed, three per
cent strongly disagreed versus ten per cent who agreed, three per cent who strongly agreed
and 16 per cent who did not know.
International Migration Papers No. 94 25
2.3.11. Measures at the EU level in order to limit the
irregular economic activities carried out by migrants
The problem of irregular migration and irregular economic activities carried out by
migrants is an international problem and the scope of its solution significantly exceeds the
borders and legal competencies of individual countries. Thus, if we want to resolve the
situation in this area within the Czech Republic, it is also necessary to include supra-
national institutions in the process, primarily those of the European Union. In addition, the
inclusion of the Czech Republic in the Schengen System (December 2007), which,
amongst other things, will also result in the free movement of individuals, will increase the
significance and the necessity of common, unified measures in the Czech Republic in order
to resolve the issues pertaining to the irregular employment of foreigners. For this reason,
we also focused at the EU level within the scope of our research.
During the first round of the Delphi research, the experts were asked to recommend
several measures that could be implemented at the EU level for resolving the issues related
to irregular activities carried out by migrants. The proposals related primarily to the
harmonization and simplification of the rules in place within the framework of the EU;
controls and sanctions; distribution of information; changes to job market regulation; and
stricter security measures. The experts’ opinions were synthetically processed and were
incorporated in the questionnaire for the second round of the Delphi research in the form of
a list of twenty-two recommended measures. Each of the respondents was to select the five
measures they consider to be the most important. Table 11 presents the measures that were
selected most often and can thus be considered as the most important in the eyes of the
panel.
26 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 11: Most important measures recommended for resolving the issues pertaining to migrants´ irregular
economic activities at the EU level (Delphi Second Round, N=21)
Recommended measure Absolute count
Greater harmonization within residency and employment regulations for foreigners 12
More effective system of controls and sanctions for employers 11
Simplification of the legislative environment for employing foreigners 10
Simplifying and relaxing the procedures for regularly employing workers from third
countries
9
Increasing the level of information provided to potential labour migrants 8
On the one hand, measures simplifying regular migration were recommended most
often. In the opinion of our panel, the harmonization and simplification of the regulations
in place for the legal residence and employment of foreigners (primarily those from third
countries) could lead the way towards limiting irregular economic activities on the part of
foreigners within the framework of the EU. On the other hand, recommendations that
would make the sanction system for irregular employment stricter and more effective,
specifically from the perspective of penalizing employers, were also submitted. In
addition, the recommendation to increase the level of information distributed amongst
possible labour migrants with regard to the regular possibilities for migration and
employment should not also be overlooked.
2.4. Conclusions of the Delphi study
The results of the qualitative Delphi research study performed amongst Czech
migration experts (N=32 for the first round and N=23 for the second round) during the
timeframe of November 2005 through June 2006 provide a number of concrete
conclusions in relation to the researched phenomenon, specifically the irregular economic
activities of migrants in the Czech Republic.
According to the respondents, one of the most frequently occurring forms of irregular
economic activities on the part of migrants is the “disguised employment” in Czech
context referred to as “Švarc system”, whereby a migrant possesses a residence permit and
a trade license, but in reality works as someone’s employee. The same importance was
assigned to the economic activity whereby migrants perform their (completely irregular or
quasi-regular) job through an intermediary agent, or “client”. Other frequent forms of
economic activities carried out by migrants in conflict with the law included: violating
rules of an acquired visa/permit (this applies to visa for a period exceeding 90 days or long
term visa), and working while on either a tourist visa or an expired tourist visa.
In examining the reasons why migrants participate in irregular economic activities in
the Czech Republic, the tempting “pull” factors were clearly confirmed as playing a
significant role. This primarily involves an established lobby of intermediary agents
(clients), a high level of demand for a foreign workforce (primarily in the area of
physically demanding work), and the fact that the irregular employment of even Czech
citizens is a fairly widespread and tolerated phenomenon throughout the entire country.
When defining the basic characteristics of migrants who carry out completely
irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic, it was determined that Ukraine is the
International Migration Papers No. 94 27
most significant source country, followed by Viet Nam, and some other countries of the
former Soviet Union. As far as the territorial distribution of irregular migrants is
concerned, in the opinion of the respondents, Prague and the Central Bohemian Region are
the unequivocal leaders. When asked about the areas in which irregular migrants are
probably most active, the respondents provided a fairly wide range of economic sectors
and areas: construction, followed by hospitality and accommodation services, domestic
services (cleaning, care provision, etc.), agriculture, and wholesale/retail. The textile and
food processing industries were viewed as less important. From the perspective of the
expected future development in the volume of irregularly economically active migrants,
the majority of the experts predict that there might be an increase in the domestic services
sector.
The estimated number of completely irregularly economically active migrants on the
Czech employment market is very heterogeneous. While one-third of the experts estimate
that the count is between 40,000 and 99,999 individuals, almost one-fifth believe that the
number exceeds 200,000. The overall estimate for the development of the phenomenon in
question for the 2006 to 2010 timeframe is similarly varied.
Filling unappealing and low-paid job positions, a cheap and flexible workforce
contributing to economic development, and the development of certain branches (e.g.,
construction) were listed as the most positive impacts of the irregular economic activities
carried out by migrants in the Czech Republic overall. Tax evasion and unfavourable
working conditions for irregular foreigners (including salary discrimination) were specified
by the experts as the most important negative impacts.
Panelists fully supported a free movement of the Central/Eastern European labour
force (from new EU member states) to old member states, whilst in relation to this they do
not see in the future any potential increase of irregular migration at the expense of the
“West”.
Regarding attitudes towards an application of regularization programs in the Czech
Republic, no clear tendency appeared among our panelists. However, differences between
the opinions of experts from non-governmental sector (supporting regularization) and
those of Czech governmental officials (who strongly oppose it) were found.
The most desirable goals/measures that should be implemented in order to limit
irregular economic activities carried out by migrants in the Czech Republic include: an
uncompromising battle against corruption within the ranks of the Police of the Czech
Republic” (in the panel’s opinion, however, the measure is very difficult to implement);
goals/measures connected with the level of information available to the concerned parties;
more flexibility in the regular migration channels; and more effective control and sanction
mechanisms for tracking and penalizing this phenomenon. The most required measures
also include the simplification and decrease of deductions businesses have to make for
their employees, which would generally make regular employment more advantageous.
Similar measures were mentioned by the respondents when it came to making
recommendations to help resolve the situation at the EU level. This “double emphasis” on
measures connected with simplifying the legislative environment as it pertains to legal
employment, increasing the level of information provided to potential migrants, and
stricter sanctions only serves to strengthen their importance.
The measures appropriate for implementation into practice in the Czech Republic
(i.e., those that were evaluated as being very necessary and, at the same time, fairly
feasible) include measures supporting the distribution of information in the Czech
Republic and in source countries with regard to the regular options for employing
migrants, and measures that would simplify the current system for issuing work permits
and the related binding conditions. Guaranteeing a higher level of protection for witnesses
28 International Migration Papers No. 94
in proceedings pertaining to human trafficking are also included in this category of
measures that can be applied in practice.
It is also possible to compare the results of this Delphi research in the area of
desirable goals/measures with current Czech migration policy. In spite of the fact that
migration and integration policies (and subsequently current practice) as they pertains to
certain economic areas (labour market) face many problems in the Czech Republic, as is
also the case in many other developed countries, (e.g., Drbohlav, Horáková, Janská 2005,
Čaněk, Čižinský 2006) some important steps towards meeting some of the above-specified
required goals have already been taken or are in progress (by state authorities, often
working in cooperation with the non-governmental sector and international organizations).
These include steps such as the establishment of the Interministry Authority for Battling
the Illegal Employment of Foreigners (which has set the fight against “client” system as its
main target); the creation of information portals (available on the Internet) and printed
materials for foreigners that present the conditions for working and doing business in the
Czech Republic, as well as the creation of information centres that perform the same task
(especially in Ukraine); or the implementation of a pilot project called “Výběr
kvalifikovaných zahraničních pracovníků (“Selecting Qualified Foreign Workers”).
Another project preparing the implementation of “green cards”, which should provide
much simpler and more flexible access to the Czech labour market for foreigners is also
underway. Further additional measures are in progress for intensifying the battle against
corruption within the ranks of the Police of the Czech Republic.
Table 12 brings authors´ synoptical comparison of the most important reasons for
having migrants that are involved in irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic -
with relevant policy goals/measures. Reasons as well as policy goals were formulated
independently by our panelists and only afterwards, we juxtaposed them to each other. We
did it in a way that to each important reason (see Table 2) we tried to find relevant
solutions among the proposed desirable policy goals/measures (see Table 9). The table
may also serve as a “menu” from which policy makers can choose when searching for
possible “right solutions” to migrants´ irregular economic activities.
International Migration Papers No. 94 29
Table 12: Main reasons for migrants´ irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic juxtaposed to
desirable goals/measures
Main reasons for migrants´ irregular
economic activities
Desirable goals/measures
Strong and established lobby of intermediary
agents (“clients”)
Effective control and sanctions system for employers of irregular
migrants (including “clients”)
Acquire control over the activities of intermediary agencies
Uncompromising battle against corruption within the ranks of the
Police of the Czech Republic
Simplifying and speeding up the process for the regular
employment of foreigners
Increase the level of information on the possibilities, procedures,
and advantages of regular employment provided to foreigners both
in their countries of origin as well as in the Czech Republic
Increase the flexibility of work permits for foreigners in certain
areas
High demand for irregular (cheap and flexible)
foreign labour, especially for physically
demanding work (e.g. in construction)
Decrease deductions and the tax burden in order to ensure that
regular employment is more advantageous for employers
Simplify tax regulations and the regulations in place for social
security deductions
The irregular employment (even of Czech
citizens) is a fairly widespread phenomenon
There is no possibility to adjoin adequate goals since policy goals that could
be tied to this reason were not found. Nevertheless, generally we propose to
establish more moral environment (within whole society, especially
educational institutions and families), to make a tax reform, to push stricter
legislation and more effective punishments.
The procedure for obtaining a legal work permit
is complicated and burdened by needless
bureaucracy
A more transparent and “more accommodating” environment for
granting residence and work permits
Simplifying and speeding up the process for the regular
employment of foreigners
Unifying the administrative procedures for residence permits and
work permits
Increase the flexibility of work permits for foreigners in certain
areas (e.g., provide the ability to change employers for performing
the same occupation without having to apply for a new permit,
protective period in the event employment is lost, etc.)
Strong “push” factors exist in the countries of
origin of irregular migrants, which are primarily
linked to undeveloped economies and political
instability (possibly even to internal conflicts),
which force the local citizens to leave for
elsewhere, including the Czech Republic
There is no possibility to adjoin adequate goals since policy goals that could
be tied to this reason were not found. Generally, it is a factor that any country
has hardly ever been able to precede. Increasing role of developmental
economic aid and related special programs targeting underdevelopment
(including information campaign), come into the play above all in this regard.
The Czech Republic does not have an effective
“migration administration” regime for temporary
labour migration
Increase the flexibility of work permits for foreigners in certain
areas (e.g., provide the ability to change employers for performing
the same occupation without having to apply for a new permit,
protective period in the event employment is lost, etc.)
Simplifying and speeding up the process for the regular
employment of foreigners.
The table confirmed what has already been said in relation to the most desirable
policy goals/measures that these can be grouped into four basic thematic areas as presented
in chapter 3.8. (see above). Moreover, we added the fifth general area that should be
30 International Migration Papers No. 94
addressed by relevant policy goals/measures - i.e., systematic attempts to establish a more
“moral/ethical environment” within which irregular is considered to be a “bad thing”.
The overall results of the Delphi research study show that, due to its “mysteriousness”
and high level of complexity (numerous varied external conditions and factors), the
phenomenon of migrants' irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic, is hard to
grasp even for migration experts. Within the framework of this research study, the answers
submitted by the panel in reply to important questions pertaining to the estimated number
of irregular migrants, their structure, and the future development in this area varied greatly.
A more visible consensus dominates only in some areas (see above).
On the other hand, this mosaic of estimates and opinions sufficiently proves that a
number of aspects in the field of irregular activities carried out by migrants in the Czech
Republic are almost identical to those that are known from other destination countries.
This pertains to the character and functioning of the overall environment (labour market
segmentation, forms and mechanisms for including the informal economics of migrants
into the socioeconomic structure of the destination country)
19
(e.g., Baldwin-Edwards
1999, European Commission 2007, Reyneri 2002, Düvell 2006), as well as to some other
individual aspects (refer to the applicable sections above). The indicated concurrence
indirectly also appears in the fact that we can, with a certain degree of caution (Arango
2000), explain some aspects of migrants' irregular economic activities in the Czech
Republic by applying migration theories/concept that are used in other developed
immigration countries (e.g., Massey et al. 1993, 1998).
With regard to the nature of the irregular economic activities of migrants, it is obvious
that elimination of this phenomenon is a long-term task with unclear results. The battle
against irregular migration and its accompanying phenomena has not yet been won by
anyone and it seems it will not be won in the near future either. As Baldwin-Edwards
(2006) describes in detail, the informal sector in the post-industrial developed world is
gaining in importance. The significance of irregular economic activities carried out by
migrants is also confirmed by the fact that, in some western European countries, informal
economies (including irregular activities carried out by migrants) are represented to a
higher degree in the most developed regions as compared to less developed regions
(Williams, Windebank 1998 cited by Baldwin-Edwards 2006). Many areas of developed
economies are also dependent on the informal sector and irregular migration. Long-term
unresolved and still continuing mass irregular migration usually in relation to the
blossoming informal economies is often “quietly” tolerated by political representations,
which again provides evidence that the phenomena in question are structural components
of modern capitalism (e.g., Pallidda 2005). In order to strengthen this thesis, even with
regard to emphasizing the difficulty of the battle against irregular migration, we also
conclude that there is still an intense and permanent demand for an irregular foreign
workforce, specifically from a number of businesses in developed countries who will
always be willing to hire this cheap, flexible, and productive workforce in spite of the
various risks involved. In addition, the post-communist world must overcome its
unfortunate inheritance of the past, which degraded morale and allowed many informal
activities to become a generally tolerated reality (e.g., Renooy et al. 2004). In the future
therefore, the Czech Republic will without a doubt continue to be faced with irregular
migration and migrants' irregular economic activities. Nevertheless, it must still attempt to
eliminate these phenomena.
19
However, the existing client system seems to be a rather specific form of labour organization among Post-
Soviet migrants in the Czech Republic and possibly in other Central European countries. Nevertheless, to make
more convincing conclusions in this regard it is necessary to investigate the issue in a more detailed way.
International Migration Papers No. 94 31
3. Migrants´ Tough and Challenging Lives
(Irregular Economic and Transit Migration in
the Czech Republic – Qualitative Approach)
3.1. Main goals, design of the research and
methodological approach
In this chapter we try to describe in a complex way and to explain the essential
features of international migration and irregular working activities of migrants in Czech
Republic, with a closer insight into the processes of trafficking and smuggling. The basic
research questions (beside others, also in harmony with the approach of critical realism
(Sayer) 1992) were as follows: What is the migration process at the end of which there is
an irregularly economically active foreigner in the host society or a foreigner who used the
given country only as transit space? What mechanisms and wider conditionalities are there
in the given context? How does it all work? What is the specific behaviour of an individual
migrant? In the comparative view it is important to verify if the situation in the field of
irregular migration and irregular economic activities of migrants in Czech Republic are
similar to those that have been typical of the developed classical immigration countries,
especially the older member states of the EU.
The basic approach applied in this chapter is the so-called intensive approach, on a
more general level of the whole social science relatively unambiguously isolated from the
so-called extensive approach, or the extensive form of research (Sayer 1992). Whereas
typical methods of extensive research are descriptive and use inferential statistics,
numerical analysis and large-scale formal questionnaires of populations or ‘representative
samples’, intensive research uses mainly qualitative methods such as structural and casual
analysis, participant observation and/or informal and interactive interviews (see also more
in Sayer 1992). What is necessary to be stressed here is the fact that the intensive approach
is not a panacea, and as it is duly expressed by Sayer, “both methods are needed in
concrete research”. They are not competitive approaches, on the contrary, the two views
enrich each other (see also e.g. Massey 1987 or Piore 2006).
In the specific project and in relation to the research of the (irregular) migration
issue, an application of the intensive research approach by partial methods of, for example,
semi-structured and unstructured interviewing, participating observation, oral history, life
history, interpretation of stories, etc. is used (see e.g. Creswell 1994, Hay 2000, Agozino
2000). In the developed countries with an immigration history, these approaches are not a
novelty or, as the case may be, of a widely determined integration problem (see for
example in United States, Gilbertson 2004, Stephen 2004, Pai 2004, 2006, Hess-Puckhaber
2004, Abrego 2006, Coll 2004, in Western Europe, van der Leun-Kloostermann 2006, Van
Liemt 2007 and a collection of studies presented in Düvell 2006). Nevertheless, in the new
EU member countries of Central and Eastern Europe, such approaches have not yet been
frequently used (see for example, Kovács-Melegh 2001 and Hamar-Szaló 2007).
In this chapter, the results of the intensive research are presented. The source of the
research results come from semistructured interviews conducted with 63 irregular migrants
altogether. To be able to understand the reality of the group under study, we structured the
intended interview into several basic thematic domains: basic personal characteristics,
motivation for migration, journey to (or also from) Czech Republic, work, housing, social
relations, relations to source/mother country, contacts with police, any exploitation, any
discrimination and future behavioral strategies. That was the ideal. Naturally, each
participant did not react to all mentioned themes. On the other hand, the interview
sometimes went beyond these limits, becoming “less formal, less standardized and more
interactive kind of interview was applied” (Sayer 1992).
32 International Migration Papers No. 94
The target group consisted of irregular migrants who were contacted in two different
environments.
In the first case, nine migrants were interviewed who had been performing irregular
economic activities freely in the Czech Republic, in the capital city Prague or in its
surroundings. For the purpose of this research, a reliable Ukrainian already integrated into
the Czech society was hired, who was, at the same time, familiar with the environment of
irregular migrants. He established contacts, or made use of his existing connections and
experience and then, in the intervals of several weeks, he brought irregular migrants into
the building of the Faculty of Science, usually in the evening hours, where they were then
interviewed (the interviewers were the members of the research team themselves). The
interviewees were economic migrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union (they
make up the biggest legal and evidently also irregular migrant community in the country),
who were greeted in an informal way and treated with some food. The main objectives of
the research were explained to them and also anonymity was guaranteed to them. The
interviews were held from December 2005 to April 2006, mostly in Russian, seldom in
Czech. The respondents were financially rewarded for their information and time spent
(about one hour).
In the other case, migrants already detained by the police were contacted. These
migrants had offended Czech law in a more serious way
20
and were staying in one of the
detention centres run by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (MV CR). The
members of the research team, in intensive cooperation with the relevant responsible
organizations of MV CR, visited the detention centres
21
, where they performed the semi-
structured interviews. The potential respondents from among the detained migrants were
informed about the research, its’ aims and character by the researchers on the spot. The
persons interested, for whom this activity represented a way of relieving the monotony of
the tedious course of the day, were assured about keeping their anonymity and also about
the fact that their information would serve only for research purposes.
The composition of the participating respondents in terms of citizenship was very
diverse (see below Table 1 for demographic details concerning individuals directly quoted
in the text). The interviews were held in Russian, English, French, and, with the help of
translators, in Vietnamese and Chinese. For providing the information, the respondents
were – after agreement with the management of the detention institutions – rewarded with
some chosen delicacies and cigarettes. The interviews in the detention centres were held in
two rounds, in May and December 2006.
20
The issues were namely repeated breach of the residence regime, an attempt of illegal crossing of the State
border, unknown identity of the foreigner and so on.
21
Detention centres are located at Velké Přílepy, Bělá-Jezová, Poštorná and Frýdek –Místek.
International Migration Papers No. 94 33
Table 1: Main characteristics of the respondents quoted in this contribution, own survey, 2005-2006
Respondent/type
of respondent
Place, where
interview was
performed
Country of origin, sex, age, highest education degree, family status,
number of children
R1D Poštorná Srí Lanka, female, 31, basic, single
R2C Poštorná Ukraine, male, 35, skilled, single
R3C Poštorná Ukraine, male, 30, basic, single
R4D Poštorná India, male, 21, basic, single
R5C Poštorná Ukraine, female, 33, high school, single
R6D Poštorná Pakistan, male, 22, high school, single
R7D Poštorná India, male, 25, basic, single
R8D Poštorná Nigeria, female, 19, basic, single
R9D Poštorná Pakistan, male, 25, high school, single
R10D Bělá-Jezová Ghana, male, 17, basic, single
R11A Faculty Ukraine, male, 20 let, high school, single
R12A Faculty Moldova, male, 37, high school, divorced
R13C Faculty Russia, female, 38, high school, married (in Ukraine), 2 children
R14A Faculty Ukraine, female, 27, high school, married, 2
R15C Faculty Ukraine, female, 40, high school, widow, 1
R16A Faculty Ukraine, male, 22, high school , married, 1
R17A Faculty Moldova, male, 23, high school, divorced
R18B Velké Přílepy Ukraine, female, 34, high school , married, 2
R19B Poštorná Ukraine, female, 32, basic, married
R20A Velké Přílepy Ukraine, male, 51, university, married, 2
R21A Velké Přílepy Ukraine, male, 42, high school, married, 2
R22A Velké Přílepy Belorussia, female, 45, high school, divorced, 1
R23C Velké Přílepy Ukraine, female, 25, skilled, divorced
R24B Velké Přílepy Ukraine, male, 51, skilled, single
R25B Frýdek-Místek Ukraine, male, 64, married, 4
R26C Faculty Ukraine, male, 24, skilled, single
R27A Velké Přílepy Ukraine, male, 45, high school, widow, 3
R28D Poštorná China, female, 29, basic, married, 2
R29B Poštorná Ukraine, male, 38, university, married, 1
R30D Bělá-Jezová Iraq, male, 26, basic, single
R31D Bělá-Jezová Srí Lanka, female, 20, high school, single
R32A Poštorná Kyrgyzstan, male, 24, basic, single
R33C Poštorná Ukraine, male, 36, high school – skilled, divorced, 1
R34A Velké Přílepy Ukraine, male, 27, high school, single
R35D Velké Přílepy India, male, 23, basic, single
R36D Velké Přílepy Viet Nam, male, 25, high school, single
R37C Velké Přílepy Russia, male, 37, high school – skilled, married, 2
R38B Frýdek-Místek Russia, male, 27, high school, divorced, 2
R39B Frýdek-Místek Russia, male, 28, skilled, single, 1
R40B Frýdek-Místek Ukraine, male, 42,basic, married
R41D Poštorná China, male, 24, high school, single
R42A Poštorná Ukraine, male, 45,basic, single
R43D Poštorná Ukraine, male, 28,basic, high school, single
Notes: Types of respondents:
A) Heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage of the clients
B) Heading for the country on purpose, economically active, organizing their work and life
by themselves
C) Heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage of the client at the
beginning, then leaving the client and organizing the work and life by themselves
D) They do not aim to stay in the country, only in transit on their way to a richer country
of the EU.
63 interviews were performed (20 females and 43 men), nine of them were with contemporary irregular economically active migrants (they were not
caught by Police and 54 interviews were conducted with migrants in detention centers in the Czech Republic.
In summation, the choice of respondents could not be other than of the purpose-
oriented character. Naturally, this brings about the fact that “actual concrete patterns and
34 International Migration Papers No. 94
contingent relations are unlikely to be ‘representative’, ‘average’ or ‘generalizable’” (Sayer
1992). Besides the general problem of the lack of representativeness, which is taken into
account in the intensive research, the research team had to face other obstacles caused by
the fact that the interview was held with an irregularly operating foreigner, who was either
afraid of being given away and caught afterwards (foreigners still operating freely in the
territory) or of the possibility that the facts revealed by him/her could somehow complicate
his/her situation or the present administration procedure (foreigners forced to stay in the
detention centres)
22
.
Despite the mentioned methodological obstacles, the result of the interviews is
relatively satisfactory and many of the responses can be ‘interpreted carefully’. At a macro
analytical level we feel that at the given moment and under the given circumstances – via
N=63 and their responses and stories/narratives – we reached to large extent the ‘saturation
of knowledge’
23
.
3.2. Some selected basic characteristics of the set of
respondents participating in the research
In the whole set, two different groups of respondents are clearly differentiated
according to the source countries and the character of the migration process: 1) migrants
from Eastern Europe (arriving for economic reasons and thus in the country intentionally)
and 2) migrants from Asia and Africa (transit migration).
Among transit migrants (N=26), Asia (N=22, mainly Viet Nam, China, Sri Lanka and
India) dominates as a source region. Females represented 35 per cent of the Asian and
African transit migrants. The composition of the economic migrants (N=37, mostly
Ukrainians (27), followed by Russians (4) and Moldovans (2), females represented 30 per
cent) in terms of age and family status in the investigated set is more homogenous than
with the transit migrants where young (under 30) and single people prevail. The
proclaimed higher education is related unambiguously to the economic migrants, a
majority of whom stated completion of secondary education, whereas transit migrants
stated completion of only basic education.
3.3. Analysis of the performed interviews
The evaluation of all 63 performed interviews indictated that the given
migrants/respondents, depending on the character of their behaviour and migration and
integration strategies used, cluster into several basic types. The key differentiation factors
22
In the first case, the mediating person, the Ukrainian, was of great help, and was able to inspire confidence.
Also the academic environment of the faculty and the highly informal approach of the members of the research
team helped in making the atmosphere more relaxed and establishing a bilateral atmosphere of confidence,
although just for a short time. In the detention centres, it was the social workers present who were of help. It
took a longer time to build confidence, nevertheless, perhaps the most important thing was reached –
persuading most of the respondents that the research team was independent and did not work for any of the
state organizations and that the results of the investigation would serve only for scientific purposes, or, could
possibly, be of help in finding better solutions to some troublesome situations in which the illegal migrants in
the Czech Republic find themselves. Admittedly, the financial or material reward might have stimulated
participation in the research to a certain measure.
23
“The point of saturation refers to validity in the sense that the information received is relevant to the problem
of interest and no new information is coming up in the form of controversies or things hitherto unknown to the
researcher from the field” (Agozino 2000).
International Migration Papers No. 94 35
in creating the given typology of migration/integration models were the following
important circumstances: 1) if the migrant aims at working or running a business in the
Czech Republic either on a long-term or permanent basis, or perhaps at permanent
settlement versus transition across the country; 2) the way in which the migrant is
economically active here, above all if s/he is in bondage to client (who obtains and
organizes work for them for a reward) or if they seek and arrange work by themselves or if
there is a combination of both models – they started working under a client and then they
got out of his/her bondage and started organizing everything by themselves. In our opinion,
it is these two circumstances – the decision about the target country and the fact in what
‘free microenvironment’ the migrant organizes their economic activity – that in many
aspects predetermine the nature and character of the whole stay (and many other aspects of
their life) in the territory of the host country (i.e. the Czech Republic).
Based on the given facts, four basic types of migrants could be specified:
A. heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage of the clients;
B. heading for the country on purpose, economically active, organizing their work and
life by themselves;
C. heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage of the client at
the beginning, then leaving the client and organizing work and living circumstances
by themselves;
D. not aiming at staying in the country, only in transit on their way to a richer country
of the EU.
The fifth type is made up of two special groups that we do not give any additional
detailed commentary on, due to their specific character (see below).
E. Specific cases.
In the frame of the typology, the representatives of the source countries created
specific groups depending on nationality. While the types A to C are represented
above all by migrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union, mainly
Ukraine, but partially also from other countries from the European part of the
former Soviet Union (see Table 1), type D is represented by the citizens of typical
developing and more geographically distant countries (e.g. India, Pakistan, Sri
Lanka, China, Nigeria).
In this chapter we make use of or interpret the responses of the following 43
respondents, whose closer specification is given in Table 1. We will introduce the
main features, mechanisms, conditionalities and characteristics of the particular
types of migration and integration behaviour of the migrants investigated.
Throughout this section we will present a full version of one ‘typical interview’ as
the ‘flagship’ of the given type. This given story will always be completed with a
number of extracts from other interviews.
3.3.1. Basic migratory types I
Type A – Bondsmen/women
The story given below depicts, in short, the nature of many adventures that these
migrants have to face. The key importance belongs to the position of submission and
dependence on the mediators of work (clients) who exploit their bondsmen/women and
from the bondage of which these migrants have not freed themselves for various reasons.
36 International Migration Papers No. 94
The asylum regime is misused as a ‘cover up’, under which irregular work flourishes
24
. It
is rather through a limited measure that the migrants establish stronger human
relationships. Even their link to their fellow countrymen/women’s communities, not to
mention the link to the Czech institutions, is rather of a marginal character. The economic
situation of no escape is often accompanied by the failure of other relationships (both
personal and ‘institutional’), by pessimism and by unclear strategies for future behaviour.
R12A I decided to immigrate into the Czech Republic for economic and psychic
reasons. I was a worker of high rank in a wine producing plant and I started criticizing the
falsehood in the wine production (they made two out of one wine), so I was fired. This
happened in 1995. I was unemployed for a long time and started having problems in the
family, too. I got divorced. Then they kept taking me to the court and asking why I was not
working. If I had worked, I would have spent more on the transport than how much I could
have earned.
I knew that in the nearby village there was a driver who took migrants to
Italy and to Czechia. So I paid him USD 75 for the tourist visa and USD 100 for the
journey (paid off only in Czechia, arrival in August 2000). We crossed the border without
any problems. He discharged us at Náchod and on the first day the client came and took us
to a construction site in Prague. The owner of the construction was Czech and the client
issued the invoices for us. I was paid about CZK 35 – 45 per hour. First I was a
bricklayer´ s man and later I did almost all kinds of work. In 2002 I decided to apply for
asylum and I was 20 days in the asylum centre and then, thanks to my connections, I
managed to get work in Prague - Uhříněves at a construction site. The owner did not want
to pay me without invoices, so I had to find a client. At night I worked as a watcher and
during the day as a bricklayer´ s man. I was in charge of all the machinery. I was satisfied,
and the owner treated me fairly; he was a sort of an old communist. The client paid me
CZK (Czech crowns) 55 per hour. I used to send the money home to my sister, altogether
about USD 2,000, but I do not any more. In 2003 my only son drowned in Moldavia and
my sister did not tell me. It is awfully grievous to talk about it, today he would be 11 years
old; I do not want to speak about it. When I saved about USD 2,000 I was assaulted at the
construction site at Uhříněves. It was the Ukrainian mafia and I think that my client told
them about me, because it was him who knew how much money I had and where. They
threatened me with death, so I gave them the hidden money. I changed the client and
started working at a construction site at Lány, again as a watcher and bricklayer. The
wage was CZK 55 per hour. Now I work at a construction site in Prague –Řepy, and I stay
with the Ukrainians.
I do not meet any fellow-countrymen and I do not meet any foreigners either; I do not
trust them. In Moldavia I keep contacts only with my neighbours. I have two Czech friends
– one is from Kladno and the other from Prague. I met them at the construction site.
I did not get asylum and in 2002 the validity of my passport expired. I tried to prolong
the passport, but the Moldavian consul does not come to Prague any more (I phoned her).
I wanted to buy the work permit, but I do not have the passport and I do not have anybody
at home who would get the new passport for me. For me, it is a situation without any
solution; I do not want to return home, I have sad memories. I do not know what I will do
in the future, how to solve this situation. I am also afraid that the police could stop me – I
think they would not take a bribe and they would expel me immediately.
24
The current Czech legislation enables the applicants for asylum to work legally only after the expiration of
one year from submission of the application for asylum.
International Migration Papers No. 94 37
Type B – Independent and with support from friends
The story below depicts the hard life of a migrant in irregularity, nevertheless it is
considerably different from the story of the type A in the fact that the migrant is, mostly
thanks to his/her courage and ability but also to the assistance of social links (often of
family members, countrymen/women, and sometimes of friends from the Czech society),
able to organize his/her work and life on his/her own terms, without the controlling role of
the mediators/clients who often exploit the migrants heartlessly. Also, for representatives
of type B the future outlook into future is clearer and more optimistic, often with the goals
of settling down in the country.
R18B In March 2004 I got a half-year tourist visa, then I submitted an application for
consolidating the family and it did not come out well (my father and husband are staying
in Czechia legally). Since that time I have been here irregularly. Once, as I was coming
back from my friends, a police patrol caught me, and everything was given away. At the
beginning I came here with my husband in his car – from our home in the Transkarpathian
Ukraine. My husband keeps dogs in Czechia but we have quarrelled lately and have not
lived together.
I have been coming to Czechia for 13 years already. My children (sons who are
now 13 and 10) are with their grandmother in the Ukraine. I myself have not been home
for 2 years. Otherwise, I have been circulating between Czechia and home, and I have
always had a tourist visa.
My job here in Czechia was excellent. I found it thanks to my husband and his
friends. I cooked in a pub outside Prague, in the district Prague-East. I had super
conditions; it was a steady job and a good collective. I earned about CZK 24,000 net a
month. I have never used the client or the client system. I stayed in a rented flat with my
husband. It was a room and a kitchen, and my husband ´s employer arranged it for us. My
husband paid for the flat about CZK 2,000 a month.
I feel homesick. I have good contacts with the Ukrainians here, but there are few of
them. I have many more contacts with the Czechs; these contacts are also good. I used to
spend my free time with my woman friend. We used to go shopping to Prague, to have a
little coffee …; I sometimes also rode a horse. However, I am not involved in any
organisations.
I often phone and write to my family back home in the Ukraine. My husband also
sends money through his friends. I have not met bribes, blackmailing or discrimination and
I have not had to do with any other breach of the law either. Now I am prohibited from
staying in Czechia. After the expiration of one year I certainly want to come back with the
children and to legalize my stay here. I clearly see a better future here for myself and also
for my children than in the Ukraine. We want to take root here.
Type C – Those who have learnt a lesson and the courageous
ones
The story is an apposite to another type whose characteristic feature is that the
migrant, once dependent on the mediator/client gets out of his/her bondage after a certain
time and starts organizing his/her own economic activities and life. This type represents a
kind of a transition model.
R23C I studied for 11 years and then I learned the job of a florist. My parents and
siblings are backing home, in the Ukraine in Lutsk.
To Czechia I came on December 26, 2003 and it was for economic reasons. I got the
tourist visa through a mediator for USD 200 and I came to Prague by coach on my own. A
38 International Migration Papers No. 94
contact person was expecting me there who took me to a lodging-house. I got a job at
Česká Lípa where I worked as a cleaner at a building site – this was only for 14 days.
Then I got a job through a friend of mine and went to Klatovy where I worked for half a
year with pallets. Again I stayed in a lodging-house near Klatovy, which was paid by the
client. I used to get CZK 45 an hour. There were two Ukrainian women staying in the room
with me, and there were also some other Ukrainian people there. We did not have a fridge
and the cooker was in the room. After half a year I came back to Prague and I wanted to
earn money even without the client. When I wanted to interrupt the contacts with them,
they did not want to let me go and they kept on calling me. Finally I changed my phone
number and they left me alone.
In 2004 I was checked by the policemen in Prague; my documents were not in order,
so I asked for asylum. I was brought to the asylum centre at Vyšné Lhoty, then to Stráž pod
Ralskem, and from there I left for Prague. After a certain time I always checked the mail
that had arrived at Česká Lípa at an address that I had given. My countrymen – friends
were to inform me in case I got a notification from the court or some other mail.
Sometimes I even went there to check it. Unfortunately it did not work; I did not pick up the
notification denying me asylum, and so I did not know I was staying here irregularly –
none of my friends called me.
I was detained at the Austrian border where I was going shopping at the duty free
zone with a Czech woman friend. After submitting the passports at the border, the
policeman detained me saying that my documents were not in order and that I had been in
Czechia irregularly for three months. I was told I had to leave the country immediately,
and I told them I would leave by the first coach the following or the next day. In the end
they detained me however and took me to Vyšné Lhoty (I did not try to bribe them) and
from there they took me further to Velké Přílepy. Everything happened at Easter, so now I
have been here for 14 days. After being released I want to return home and have a rest.
3.3.2. Elaboration on basic migratory types I
Motivation for leaving the source country/or motivation for
coming to the Czech Republic
The motivations for migration of nearly all respondents were predominantly
economic factors, but there are additional factors in play. The extracts given below confirm
some of the following factors: the importance of the cultural propinquity of the source and
target countries (post-Soviet space vis-à-vis the Czech Republic), ‘family reasons’,
possibly consolidation or completing the family, health problems in the family, crime and
contacts with the uncompromising mafia, religions intolerance, aversion to the military
service and different political opinions. As another possible reason entering into play the
aspect of ‘administrative and bureaucratic burden’ can be noticed, which is the price and
time necessary for arranging the documents needed for entering and staying in the potential
target country.
R20A I came because I could not find a job back home in the Ukraine. Earlier I
worked as an agronomist in a cooperative farm. After ‘liberating the Ukraine’ the
cooperative farms went bankrupt, and there were 700 agronomists like me without work in
the given region. I wanted to be a farmer but there were no loans available. Simply it was
not possible. …Then, my son was getting married. I borrowed money for the wedding –
USD 1,500. I had to pay it off, and I also wanted to contribute to my grandchildren ….
R22A In Belorussia I worked on a computer as a production technician. But the
factory paid little, so my husband and I wanted to go abroad. In Belorussia there are
various professional companies offering visas for abroad. My husband left for France this
way and now our son has followed him there. I did not want to go at all, because of the
International Migration Papers No. 94 39
language. …Then a woman friend who worked in Czechia told me I could make myself
understood in Czechia and that it was possible to earn quite a lot of money there. And she
also promised to help me.
R16A I left because I simply wanted to try it. In Czechia I had had my mother-in-law
for about 1.5 years. It was her who prepared everything for me; I just went to Kiev to pick
up the working visa and everything went relatively smoothly.
R21A I came to Czechia because we are all Slavs.
R27A I come from a village in the Charkiw region in the Ukraine. I have a secondary
education with an electrowelder specialisation. I have three children aged 10 to 17, and
my wife died of cancer at the age of thirty. Because of her treatment we are very indebted;
she underwent two operations in Germany. I borrowed EUR 10,000 and USD 10,000. Now
I need money to pay the debts.
R25B I had to escape from the Ukraine. I had problems with the mafia. In the
elections I voted for one president who wanted to make an economic zone in the Sub-
Carpathian Ukraine, so in fact I was helping him, and then I paid dear. I had to get out of
the way.
And moreover, during my military service I made a lot of enemies ….
R29B In the Ukraine we had problems with religion – my wife is Korean – Buddhist
and I am Catholic. In the Ukraine it meant trouble for us.
R24B In the Ukraine I heard that Czechia was a good country to live and work in, so
I wanted to move here. I also heard about Prague as a beautiful city. So I sold my flat in
the Ukraine and came to Prague.
R15C I left for Czechia because I have to support my daughter who is in the last year
of the obligatory school education by myself (her grandmother takes care of her back in
the Ukraine), and because my daughter wants to continue studying at the Institute….
R26C The reason why I came was lack of work and badly paid work in the Ukraine.
As a driver I earned about 1,500 a month when converted to Czech currency.
R3C I did not want to go to Slovakia because they pay less there. And Germany is too
expensive – you pay about USD 2,000 for the visa and another USD 300 for the
arrangement of all other documents for a one-year stay….
Forms of arrival in the Czech Republic
Most of the migrants arrive in the Czech Republic legally with valid tourist visas with
different lengths of validity (most often from two weeks to half a year). To obtain the visa,
migrants very often pay the mediating organization, and sometimes relatives or friends are
of help. The visa does not allow the individual to work and, moreover, its validity expires
soon. The migrants get into an irregular position due to their economic activity. The cases
of irregular, ‘wild’ crossing of the ‘green’ state border do not seem to be so frequent with
this type at all, although they do exist (see for example R32A). The statement of R13C
indicates that getting all necessary documents arranged in the source country may get the
migrant a higher probability into the position of a bondsman.
R20A I came on July 24, 2004 to Czechia with a two-week tourist visa. But it expired
and since then I have stayed here illegally.
40 International Migration Papers No. 94
R39B I came to Czechia as a tourist to join my parents who have been living here for
a long time. They advertised Czechia very much.
R22A To the mediating company from our town I paid EUR 180 for the tourist visa,
and I bought a ticket for the coach to Prague from a travel agency.
R17A I came in 2003. My brother had already been working here for 4 years and
helped me with money and the visa. I came with a trade licence and a one-year visa. I
arrived by coach. I had arranged everything at the consulate in Romania.
R32A My friend gave me a contact who takes people to Poland. I paid USD 250 to
him (100 in Kiev and the rest after crossing the border). I travelled at the back of the truck
with three other people I did not know. After crossing the border, the driver stopped and
we paid the rest to him and he took us to Warsaw. I spent 3 days in Warsaw, and I paid
zloty 20 a night for accomodations. There I also met a Kyrgyzstanian who had already
applied for asylum in Czechia and wanted to get back there, so I decided to go with him.
He knew a contact who could show us where to cross the border to Czechia. When we
arrived by train in Klodzko at 9 in the morning, we called him (he was Czech), and he
waited for us at the post office and drove to the border and showed us which way to go,
and he promised to wait for us at the Vietnamese stands across the border in Czechia. And
he really waited for us there and drove to Prague. For that service he wanted EUR 160.
We were crossing the border on Sunday at 10 o´ clock. Right after arriving I applied for
asylum at Frýdek –Místek
25
.
R13C I came to Czechia with a tourist visa for 12 days, and I paid a person who had
arranged the visa in Kiev (it cost USD 90). I gave USD 50 for the coach ticket. After
arriving I went to work as early as the following day. It had been arranged already in the
Ukraine. I had the flat and work arranged but I did not know what I would do – I was
ready to do anything. On the phone I learned about where I was to go to work after my
arrival – I washed dishes in a restaurant. … There are two possibilities of gaining the
documents. One possibility is to gain the documents in the Ukraine but is problematic
because it takes longer and you are then dependent for a longer time on the ‘client’ in
Czechia until the money is paid back to him (it takes about 2 months). The other
possibility is to travel with a tourist visa, in that case you work right on your own and you
try to arrange the documents later….
Circumstances of the performed economic activity
The presented facts indicate how much the client system is exploited, whether it is the
low payment for work or no payment at all, or the working conditions and length of
working hours. The migrants get involved in the system in the source country or in
Czechia. It is often a well organized activity (one client in the source country with links to
the other in the target country). Sometimes a certain role is played by relatives or friends.
The clients differ in their inhumane practices. Whereas some of them are more than cruel,
others use milder and ‘more human’ forms of exploitation, and they arrange several things
25
R33C also spoke about the way of illegally crossing the state border: "My brother´s friend advised me in
Uzhgorod and organized the journey to Czechia. We went 4 – me, two Ukrainians (I did not know them) and 1
guide (a friend of that acquaintance, also an Ukrainian). In Uzhgorod and nearby villages, there are a lot of
guides, it is not difficult to find them. Those two paid USD 1, 000, it was cheaper for me because it was through
a friend – for USD 300 in cash, paid on the spot. We crossed the Ukrainian-Slovak border on foot crossing the
woods (over the Lysá mountain), the guide knew the way well. We came to a village where a minibus was
waiting for us. That took us over Slovakia and we even crossed the Slovak-Czech border in it - we drove along
a forest road. Then we arrived”.
International Migration Papers No. 94 41
for the migrant. It is evident that many migrants exchange the client in the course of the
stay, in connection with his/her behaviour.
It seems that among the frequent practices of organizing the irregular work and stay
of migrants in the country is arranging false documents or their unauthorized prolongation
(this happens outside of the standard approving procedures). The detention and detection
of the irregularity of the stay and/or work by the Czech police is often solved by the
migrant´s application for asylum.
A cruel economic environment is often described by migrants categorized as type B.
Unlike type A, however, the life of the migrants of type B is ‘relieved’ due to the belief in
their own strength and abilities and to a strong network of friends and acquaintances,
which enables them to act in a relatively independent way. From some responses you can
feel a mutual and strong human relationship established between the migrant and some
countrymen/women or representatives of the majority society (e.g. R24B). Such
relationships then in many ways relieve the ‘unbearability of being’ in irregularity. It was
also evident, however, that the non-existence of the mediator/client does not necessarily
mean the end of the usual exploitation. This negative role can sometimes be taken on by
the employer (see R25B).
The extracts from the interviews document in what way and under what conditions
the relationships between the migrant and the mediator/client works and how some of the
migrants broke this link and launched out on their own in terms of ‘organization’.
Although the responses do not signal any ‘dramas’, getting out of the bondage of the
mediators surely is not simple for the migrant and it is the personal courage, often
supported by the existing strong social links that is of great help here.
R11A I have already been in the Czech Republic for two years working with a
Ukrainian company building for a Czech. I do all kinds of work at the building
site. Ukrainians, Slovaks, Armenians and Czechs work at the building site. I
know some Czech people working for the Ukrainian company. I work illegally
but I have a permit to stay. In the morning I get up at five o´clock, I commute to
work for half an hour; in winter I work for 10 hours, in summer for 12 hours, I
have normal lunch breaks. In the Czech Republic I met a client who issues
invoices for my work. I have the documents arranged by another person. The
first arrangment cost CZK 7,000, the second year was free and the third year
cost CZK 7,000 again. I earn CZK 10 – 15,000 a month (CZK 70/hour, earlier
CZK 49/hour). The client invoices CZK 85. I pay for the accommodations
myself. I still have work for three weeks (we work outside – it is cold there).
Then I am going home to sit for the exams (I study high school back home). It
happened once that the client did not pay CZK 10,000 to me. It is normal to
happen. I have to be careful who gets the documents ready for me because they
collect USD 1,000 and then they give you false documents.
R14A I have been here for one year already. I started working immediately in a
restaurant in the centre (with a disco and striptease; the owner is Czech). A
woman friend arranged the work for me. I started working at night doing
dishes, now I work during the day. I do all that is necessary, mostly chinaware,
but I also peel garlic, potatoes, and onions. My hands are chapped a lot; I
always have to hide them. I get a monthly wage. A female Ukrainian client
pays it to me. I work 11 – 13 hours daily, also on Saturdays and Sundays. I
have free time only when I go shopping or when I am ill. It is about once a
month, but then my body starts aching, so it is better not to stop working. The
client pays me CZK 40 an hour (15,000 a month) but I do not know how much
the owner of the restaurant pays to her. I have two meals at work.
42 International Migration Papers No. 94
R16A In Czechia I started working for the first two weeks for a private
businessman at Čelákovice near Prague (my boss was my mother-in-law). I got
CZK 75 an hour net. We made the roof on the building, balconies on the houses
and so on. However, this good work came to an end in a short time. My present
client takes good care of me – for example now, with the frosts (as low as –20˚
C) it is warm at the construction site, the building is heated inside and I
appreciate it a lot … The clients are different; they want to be trusted by their
workers, but perhaps I was lucky with them. When I was leaving for home last
for a ten-day visit, my current client even gave me 500 crowns bonus for the
well done work.
R17A Last year I worked four months for a construction company. Now I am
working for a Vietnamese, he is an engineer and set up a shop and I do the
construction work in his shop. I do not always prepare an invoice. I have
people who prolong my visa every year for me – it costs me CZK 6,000-8,000.
I only pay social insurance, not the health insurance. When I have a problem, I
go to see my doctor and I pay cash to her.
R25B After arriving I started running a business, but under a borrowed name. I
worked mainly for Ukrainian businessmen, still under a borrowed name. The
beginning was hard. Mainly my friends helped me. First I got paid CZK 35 an
hour. In the end I got paid CZK 50 an hour. On average I worked 12 or more
hours, so I had CZK 500 a day, but the employer deducted money for food and
accommodation, so often there was only about CZK 200 left. I was not paid at
all several times. They owe me about CZK 70,000, but when you work illegally,
you do not have a place to complain. They kept excusing themselves: “You see,
my subcontractor did not pay to me, so I do not have anything to pay you...”
R24B Through my friends I got a job and accommodation with an old couple
(they were both over 80). The gentleman is a reputable fruit-grower – he has a
large orchard in Prague, so I stayed with them, and from spring to autumn I
helped him in the orchard, and in winter I helped them with the house and
maintenance. I also took meals with them, and I was given a small wage. I had
trouble with my stomach and the landlord even got the medicine for me. I like
both of them very much. I was staying there till I was arrested – 2.5 years
altogether.
R13C After a week of washing the dishes I got an allergy from the detergent
and I had to stop. I called the client but he refused to pay me for the week I
worked, and he did not change the type of work either. I was promised to get
40 crowns an hour. Then I found a job myself with a Czech. I worked 15 hours
a day for about CZK 450 but I had free meals and accommodation.
R40B I mostly worked at construction sites. From the beginning I changed
employers pretty often, however, last five years I work for one company as a
small businessman using my trade license. Except for one case when employer
did not pay me about 60,000 crowns I got my money for my work. On average I
worked about 80 hours a week. We had good relations in our working team
therefore I liked my job.
Life conditions
It was found that the housing of migrants in the Czech Republic is in disparate forms
and quality: from ‘homelessness’ to lodging-houses to renting flats. There are cases of
living in demeaning conditions of overcrowded and scarcely equipped spaces, and also of
relatively good quality of living in terms both of the number of roommates and the level of
equipment. Quality of the housing depends upon the possibility and willingness of the
International Migration Papers No. 94 43
migrants to pay the rent, where the prices differ in a relatively considerable way. Housing
of lower quality is often paid in the framework of the so-called client system.
R27A I lived with a group of Czech homeless people; we supported each other.
We stayed in the deserted spaces of a house in Prague 8 on Sklenářská Street,
close to the iron scrap yard. The police caught me when they were checking my
documents three days ago, and I applied for asylum yesterday.
R17A I have been staying at a lodging-house for three years, and my brother
lives with his wife in another room. I pay CZK 2,650 monthly. I share the room
with a friend. We bought a television and a fridge. I live in the lodging-house
also because it is near my work….
R20A I lived in Prague with 7 - 8 other workers, actually there were 14 of us in
two rooms. The cooking was rather complicated, and we all had 40 liters of hot
water for bathing.
R3C In Prague I lived in the dormitory at Dejvice where there was a kitchen, a
shower and 4 people in a room. There were two buildings in the dormitory;
one was ‘Slovak’ and the other ‘Ukrainian and Russian’. Perhaps 150 people
lived in each of them….
R13C I lived in a flat with 12 women (3 rooms with 4 women each, one toilet,
one bath, clean bed-clothes, ‘everything OK’). It was a flat in the attic of a
five-story house. The Ukrainians and Czechs lived on the first floor….
R15C When I am free at the weekend, I clean and tidy my flat, and sometimes I
go and see the shops nearby. But what I want most is to have a good sleep. I do
not go anywhere for entertainment, no beer, no gambling. I save a lot, and I
pay only the flat, the fare and food. The rest I send back home to the Ukraine. I
send the money every month – about 9,000 Czech crowns, mostly through my
friends….
Links to the environment
The social links with the irregularly active migrants are logically minimalized, and
they are realized (although again rather to a limited measure) mostly only in the frame of
the working collective or at the place of accommodation. As the extracts exemplify,
blackmailing gangs functioning on an ethnic basis probably also exist. The willingness to
be bribed and sometimes even demanding bribes by the representatives of the state
institutions (mainly police) are mentioned by some of the respondents. On the contrary,
other migrants have never countered these circumstances.
As is also exemplified by the flagship story of type B, the migrants in this group are
more self-confident, and this may also be the reason for their indicated relatively increased
involvement in the life of the majority society. Rather rare visits to the source country then
correspond with the danger impending an irregular migrant at every crossing of the State
border. Confirmed also was the (expected) sending of remittances to the source country
and the exploitating practices of some banks.
R11A Once I was mugged at Národní třída. They were Ukrainians who heard
me speaking Ukrainian, and threatening me with a knife, they demanded my
mobile phone which I gave to them to save myself.
R21A Last month I was working at a construction site at Slavia and I went to
buy a snack at Kaufland in my work clothes. I had 50 Czech crowns for the
snack, and two policemen stopped me and wanted to see my passport. When
44 International Migration Papers No. 94
they found out I did not have it (I keep it at home), they wanted 1,000 Czech
crowns, but I did not have anything not even a mobile phone, so they took me
to the alien police.
R20A I have never met with bribes.
R19B I send home about USD 100 perhaps once every two to three months. I
use the services of a Russian bank. Their interest is only 3.9 per cent unlike
Western Union that charges 14 per cent interest! I also paid USD 100 once in
Prague when I was caught by the police patrol. They wanted 3, 000 Czech
crowns and then they let me go.
R2C I have my own experience with corruption. Once we were carried in a
minibus – a vehicle full of illegal foreigners – and we were caught by the
police. The client paid 100,000 Czech crowns and they let us go. This was some
time in 2004. I myself gave several one-hundred crown banknotes in the
underground where the city police caught me. Then they let me go immediately.
I have heard about many cases of corruption from other people. I sometimes
feel the discrimination; I was not paid several times, and sometimes, when they
see me, they say ‘a Russian’ and they just wave their hands….
R5C At the Czech border I gave a bribe of USD 500, and yet they wrote in my
passport - undesirable for 2 years.
R2C I am not homesick so much. I call my mother about once a month, and I
have a sister in Moscow. I am also in touch with her. I have not been home for
about 8 years because of the problem with my documents. I send as much as
USD (no amount given in this sentence) to my mother about once every two
months through Western Union. I have a lot of friends, Czechs, Ukrainians,
and I lead quite a fancy life here – I go swimming, I help out unofficially in the
association of voluntary firemen etc.
3.4. Basic migratory types II
Type D – Desperate, confused and naive
This story symbolizes the migration experience of many transit migrants detained in
the Czech Republic. The basic difference of type D, represented by migrants from distant
developing countries from the ‘post-Soviet’ types A, B, C, lies in the fact that these
migrants do not choose the Czech Republic on purpose and primarily they do not want
work or perhaps live here on a long-term basis. Their aim is to leave as soon as possible
and to reach one of the desired and more developed EU countries. ‘The desperation’ often
results from the really critical situation in their source countries, ‘the confusion and
naivety’ then from the way in which they realize their journey to the desired aim: they are
often in bondage of the guides (traffickers), they are helpless, not oriented and not
informed about the life in Europe or the administrative mechanisms that logically affect
them and determine their life stories in a considerable way.
R1D I am 31 and I come from Sri Lanka. I am single, childless, and I have
taken ten classes at school so I only have basic education (partly due to the
permanent conflicts with the Tamils). I have a close friend in Italy. I have been
in detention for 1.5 months. My parents decided my life would be better in the
developed world rather than in our country where there is permanent danger,
even of death, because of the conflicts with the Tamils – we often have to hide
underground, there is shooting and so on. When I was a little girl, they killed
my brother, and that is why my parents wanted to get me to a safe place, best to
International Migration Papers No. 94 45
Italy. So I set off for the journey and paid EUR 10,000 for the transport to
Italy. I stayed for some time in a motel in Colombo where two male agents
came to pick me up. They took me with them. First I went by plane, and then I
went twice in a small truck (I was normally sitting on a seat). Then they
discharged me near the border and told me I was already in Italy. The whole
journey took one day and one night (I slept in the truck). I walked a bit but
suddenly they caught me at the border and only there I recognized that it was
not Italy. They were Czech frontier guards. I did not have money or a passport
… Unfortunately, that was the end of the journey. I have friends in Italy, and I
would immediately apply for asylum there. My parents sent me there. So I
applied for asylum here in Czechia, and I would like to stay here although I
have no friends here. I phoned my mother and asked for some information
about Czechia. It is fine here. My mother advises that I could go further
through your country or I could also stay here. After being released from the
detention centre, someone will help me.
…I will see; I am very homesick.
3.4.1. Elaboration on basic migratory types II
Motivations for leaving the source contry/motivations for coming
to the Czech Republic
The samples of the outlined motivations for leaving most typically developing and
geographically distant source countries signal a much diversified mosaic of reasons. There
are heterogenous motives based on the ethnic-religious conflicts, unaccepted political
orientation, discrimination of women, (tradition of the agreed upon marriages), debts,
possible criminal delinquencies, and the simple fulfillment of one of the secondary needs
of man - the desire to learn something new, to experience adventure. It is unambiguously
shown that in the case of these migrants, the Czech Republic is not the intended target
country in their plans but just a space for transit by means of which they want to get
farther to the West – especially to Italy, or to Germany or France where established
immigration communities of their ethnic groups exist. They often aim to reach their
relatives or friends and the motive of ‘consolidating the family’ penetrates the reasons for
both leaving and coming (both ‘push’ and ‘pull migration factors). They sometimes seem
to have appeared in Czech Republic by a sort of accident and, in their disorientation and
under the pressure of the events; they do not fully refuse the idea of a potential, more
permanent stay in this country. A possible reason of the transit through Czech Republic is
sometimes the relatively easy access to the Czech visa in their motherland.
It is as if the economic conditionality of their arrival had disappeared from their
motivations, which can be indirectly deduced from their responses. Not emphasizing the
economic motives by the given migrants is quite logical, with respect to their participation
in the asylum procedure because this admission would clearly disqualify them in the
procedure.
R28D We started having debts back home with my husband. That was one
reason why I left. I was not sure about the target country. I had some
awareness about Europe… that it is possible to earn more money there.
R4D We had terrorists back home in our village. My friend told me that in
Europe they treat the foreigners well. So I was thinking about Europe, but I
wanted to leave just for some time and to come back as soon as everything had
settled down back home.
46 International Migration Papers No. 94
R8D I come from a village in Nigeria. I left it because of family problems. It
happened that my parents died, and my grandparents wanted me to marry my
father´ s brother. So I sold the land I had from my parents and bought the
airline ticket to Prague where I got the tourist visa. I arranged everything on
my own. I wanted to work here so that I could send some money to my two
younger sisters who stayed in Nigeria.
R9D I arrived in Prague by air in December 2005 with intermediate landing in
some African town and then also in Europe. I got the visa for Czechia. Back
home I worked at a construction site; I had work. I left because of political
problems; I was a member of the political opposition. I was afraid to stay in
Pakistan.
R30D It is not possible to live in Iraq. It is terrible there - street fighting,
killing, hundreds of people lose their lives daily. I had a taxi business in Mosul
but they started blackmailing me. I have relatives in Belgium and also in
Germany.
R31D I only have a brother in Sri Lanka; my parents were lost in the tsunami. I
have several relatives in Europe. My uncle, 3 aunts and grandmother have
lived for about 15 years in London; they have settled there. My sister lives in
Paris, France; she gained asylum there and is looking for work. I wanted to get
to her in France. I left Sri Lanka because there are a lot of problems there,
mainly there are permanent fights.
R43D my mother work in Italy, so, I wanted to follow her.
Forms of coming to- and leaving the Czech Republic
The information gathered on the arrival to and departure from the Czech Republic
indicates that an overwhelming majority arrived by air (or perhaps in combination with an
overland jounery in a truck) and that travel is organized by mediators. The migrants of this
type very often use the visa regime where the role of mediators seems to be important.
After reaching the target country, the migrants very often make use of the possibility of
applying for asylum. The naivety and certain confusion of the migrants results in many of
them leaving the Czech Republic irregularly and applying for asylum in another EU
country (mainly in Austria or Germany) without realizing that applying in both countries
will be detected and that they will be sent back to the Czech Republic (see the Dublin
Convention). One of the respondents (R28D) confirms an important fact, namely that the
‘waiting houses‘ in which a great number of irregular transit migrants secretly stay and
wait for a suitable opportunity as long as for several weeks or months, also exist in Central
Europe.
There is no sense in analysing the circumstances of the performed economic activity
or the life conditions or the links to the environment in this transit type of migrants as they
were not economically active; they were detained immediately or they applied for asylum.
On the contrary, the future strategies of their behaviour are partially discussed.
R4D I got the visa for entering Czechia from an agent. I contacted him through
a friend in Punjab. He recommended Czechia because he heard it was easy to
get asylum there, and he took EUR 7,000. I arrived by air by myself, following
the route of India – Dubai – Prague (with a tourist visa) and while in the
transit space I applied for asylum. Later I left the camp [the asylum centre
where he applied for asylum in Czechia] by myself. There were bad relations
with other Indians. They caught me at the Austrian border when I wanted to
cross. A taxi drove me to the border at about 10 o ´clock in the evening. I found
the taxi-driver in a ‘night club’.
International Migration Papers No. 94 47
R9D I arrived in Prague in December 2005 by air with intermediate landing in
some African town and then also in Europe because I got the visa for Czechia.
I applied for asylum at Vyšné Lhoty, and I was given a negative reply, so I
wanted to go to Austria and to apply for asylum there. I travelled with another
friend to Austria by train (without documents), and we got across the border
and applied for asylum. They took my fingerprints and after a few days they
sent me back to Czechia to detention.
R8D I arrived by air in March 2006. I flew to Egypt and from there to Prague.
I came by myself; I did not know anybody here. They detained me at the airport
because I did not have a passport. I applied for asylum in Czechia.
R28D There (probably in Poland – on the way from China to Austria – via
Czechia) they picked us up at the airport – a Chinese and a European – and
took us to a house where there were a lot of Chinese people. We were not
allowed to leave the house. They took the passports away from us. There were
about five rooms, they made the food for us, and we slept on the floor. It must
have been somewhere in the country. We stayed there for about two months.
We were waiting. Then we set off for the journey in a personal car.
Future strategies of the behaviour
The models of the future behaviour of the given migrants are diverse. Many of them
still long for reaching the more developed EU countries; others have probably conceded
the fact that they will return home, others would be grateful even for the possibility of
staying in the Czech Republic.
R6D My expulsion is written for a borrowed name. Next time I will try to come
legally.
R7D In detention I applied with IOM for support to return voluntarily. I will
wait until IOM gives me money for the air ticket to return home.
R10D In detention I applied for asylum, but I do not know what the result will
be. I would like to stay here. I did not apply immediately after my arrival
because I did not know anything about that possibility.
3.5. Basic migratory types III
Type E - Special types
In framing the migrant typology independently of the migrants citizenship, or of the
fact if of intention, mostly economically conditioned, or only transit through Czechia, there
appear two specific, less numerous, but still important types: the first type is characterisic
of migrants who come irregularly from an already developed EU country (in our set from
Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Germany). As the migrants said, their motive is both the
very restrictive environment in the core countries of the EU (for example, it is very
difficult to gain asylum) and the easier way of finding a job in the Czech Republic. The
other type is specific in the fact that the main actors have certain characteristic qualities, or
they have been through some events that have determined their lives in a very significant
way and that have modified their life stories to such a measure that they have departed
from any ‘average stories’ – these individuals may be reaching the retirement age, become
pregnant, gave birth or encountered serious health complications.
48 International Migration Papers No. 94
3.6. Conclusions of the qualitative survey
This contribution evaluates the results of semi-structured interviews held in the years
2005 and 2006 with 63 irregular migrants in the Czech Republic, both with those who are
irregularly economically active and operate in the country freely and with those who have
been detained by the police and stay in the detention centres. In terms of methodology the
survey is based on the principles of critical realism characterized by Sayer (e.g. Sayer
1992) where the character of irregular migration, way of life and working activities in
irregularity with migrants is analysed by applying the so-called intensive approach (in a
way equivalent to qualitative approaches), stressing the recognition of the causalities,
conditionalities and functionalities of the mechanisms. The investigation is done based on
the analysis of migrants’ life stories (or rather of their selected segments).
The evaluation of the life stories of the irregularly present and/or irregularly
economically active migrants in the Czech Republic is based on a simple typology. The
key differentiation factors were as follows: 1) If the migrant aims at either long-term or
permanent working or running a business, or settling down in the Czech Republic
permanently versus transitioning through the country, and 2) if the migrant is economically
active in the bondage of a client, without a client or if they have rid themselves of the
client in the course of time. Based on this, four basic types of migrants could be
distinguished in the investigated sample:
1. Heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage to the
clients;
2. heading for the country on purpose, economically active, organizing their work
and life by themselves;
3. heading for the country on purpose, economically active, in bondage of the client
at the beginning, then leaving the client and organizing their work and life by
themselves;
4. not aiming at staying in the country, only in transit on their way to a richer country
of the European Union.
Economically conditioned arrival of the type A, B, and C migrants to the Czech
Republic is typical namely of the citizens of the former countries of the Soviet Union,
especially Ukraine. Besides purely economic reasons, which is the dominant reason, the
importance of some other factors is confirmed including: the cultural closeness of the
source and target country (post-Soviet space vis-à-vis the Czech Republic), family reasons,
consolidation or completing the family in the destination country, health problems in the
family, crime, involvement with the mafia in the source country, religious intolerance,
refusing the military service in the source country, and different political views. Another
possible reason appears as well; the aspect of the ‘administrative and bureaucratic burden’,
the lower price of the visa and shorter time needed to arrange the documents necessary for
entering the country and staying there.
Most of the migrants arrive in the country legally with valid tourist visa that costs
€100-200. However, the visa does not allow them to work and subsequently they break the
given regime either immediately or after a certain time when they begin with their
economic activity. The cases of irregularly crossing the ‘green’ state border appear to be
less frequent; the most frequent irregular entering of the Czech Republic with the given
sample seems to be the zone of the Czech-Polish state border. The irregular position and
participation in the ‘client system’ results in an easy exploitation on the part of the clients
or direct employers. The presented facts also indicate how exploiting the client system is,
whether it is the low wages for work or no payment at all, working conditions or length of
working hours. Among the frequent practices of the irregular or quasi-regular work also
International Migration Papers No. 94 49
belongs the arrangement of false documents or their unauthorized prolongation (corruption
of the police is indicated by some respondents). To get out of the bondage of the mediators
is not easy for the migrant (the client system often affects not only the working sphere but
many times it also includes their services necessary for living). Those who are independent
of the clients from the very beginning seem to be by far freer in the organization of their
life and work and they proclaim greater involvement in the life of the Czech society. They
are often supported by the strong social links to representatives of the majority or to chosen
members of their own ethnic group.
Otherwise, the necessity of ‘hiding themselves’ from the police, the efforts to save ‘as
much money as possible’ and the great fatigue due to working strongly influence the
involvement which is generally rather very small of the irregular migrants into the life of
the Czech community. Even the link to their countrymen/women community, not to speak
about the Czech institutions, seems to be rather of a marginal character. A longer stay in
the target country without family and children is often the cause of disrupted family (or
possibly partners) relationships, leading to the divorce of the parents or a weakening of the
family relationships when the children are raised by their grandparents. Also, the rather
rare visits to the source country correspond with the danger the irregular migrants have to
face whenever they cross the state borders. Sending remittances back to the source country
is common, however, the exploiting practices of some of the banks is common as well.
In cases where the irregular operation of the migrants is detected by the police, a
rough and ready solution is applying for asylum. After spending the necessary time in the
refugee center, the expectants waiting for the decision about the granting/not granting of
the asylum are allowed to stay outside these centres, which is again used for working
activities. Due to the changing of their residence, the problems of non-delivery of the
asylum decision occur. When the migrant is checked by the police, they get into the
detention centre and their stay in the country is mostly finished by expulsion.
The type D migrants symbolize the transit migrants detained for various reasons in
Czechia. This group is made up of immigrants from Asia and Africa (in our case most
frequently Viet Nam, China, Sri Lanka and India) with whom the motive of the mere
transit into the ‘third’ countries prevails. Very often a way out of a precarious personal
situation is sought (in the subcontext economic reasons are also detectable), or this could
possibly be a reflexion of much diversified instability and lack of freedom in the source
country. In addition, certain ‘break-away for adventure’ can be the reason. A relatively
frequent reason is the desire to join their relatives who are already living in one of the older
EU member countries. These migrants are often in the bondage of traffickers who, due to
the migrants´ ignorance, naivety and desorientation in the new environment of Europe,
often negatively affect their lives. For the traffickers it is relatively easy to manipulate the
migrants and to cheat them without fulfilling the desired and difficult task of taking them
safely to one of the older EU member countries; therefore, they often finish their journey
in the Czech Republic.
In our sample, as opposed to the above-given types, young and single migrants with
low education were more frequently represented among type D migrants. Unlike the
migrants from the former Soviet Union, they have to pay for mediating the journey ahead.
The facts found in the comparative investigation indicate that besides many other
migration and integration aspects (see Drbohlav 2002), also the situation in the field of
irregular working and transit migration in Czechia is, in many terms, similar to how and
what happens in the traditional more developed immigration countries (see, for example,
parallels in Düvell 2006, Alt 2005, van Der Leun, Kloosterman 2006, Pai 2004 etc.;
regarding the specific issue of payments for the migration see Petros 2005 or Futo-Jandl
2006).
International Migration Papers No. 94 51
4. Irregular/Informal Economic Activities of
Migrants in the Czech Republic (A Quantitative
Approach)
The objective of this chapter is to present selected results of a sample survey from the
field of irregular economic activities and related living arrangements of immigrants in the
Czech Republic. Principal research questions target and compare a variety of immigrant
groups based on the following criteria: their country of origin, the severity of their
unlawful economic activities and the manner in which these activities are organized. We
gave a special attention to the so-called “Client System”. It characterizes a specific way in
which migrants’ irregular economic activities are managed and organized in the Czech
Republic.
4.1. Methodology and Survey Design
Data was gained via a questionnaire survey. Questionnaires were administered to a
sample of immigrants, working in an irregular way in the Czech labour market. In our
research we divide irregular activities of migrants into two separate groups (see also
section 1.2.). Completely irregular economic activity is performed by a migrant who does
not possess either a work permit or a trade license. Alternatively, he or she possesses a
residence permit (e.g. tourist visa) but he or she does not have a work permit or a trade
licence. So called quasi-regular economic activity is tied to a situation in which the migrant
holds a residence permit as well as a work permit or trade license but to a large extent
violates labour- or business-related laws and rules. For example, he or she works in a
different region, branch or profession or for a different employer than stated in his or her
work permit. Alternatively, this individual smuggles goods or is employed although having
a trade licence.
The survey was conducted in two rounds. The first round was completed in Prague
and it’s environments between October 2005 and January 2006. The second round was
conducted in selected regions throughout the whole Czech Republic (mostly the region of
Karlovy Vary, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Liberec, Náchod, Ostrava and Brno) from March
to October 2007.
The questionnaire consisted of 118 questions divided into areas of demographic and
migration data, housing and social relationships and the economic activities in the chosen
region.
Research was directed towards three important although diverse groups of immigrants
in the Czech Republic. In the first largest group were citizens of the former USSR
(Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians and Moldovans). The second group comprised persons
from Viet Nam and China, while the third group was composed of citizens of developed
countries, primarily North America. Due mainly to principle differences between
immigrants from the “East” and the “West”, and rather a small group of Chinese
respondents, only those immigrants from the Post-Soviet countries and Viet Nam were
included into our analysis – it was, in total, 159 respondents (135 Post-Soviets and 24
Vietnamese).
The selection of respondents was “purposive”, it was organized by people that had
knowledge of (and contacts to) particular immigrant community (e.g. selected NGOs or
church representatives). These mediators addressed immigrants, explained them the task,
guaranteed anonymity on behalf of the research team, and collected questionnaires after
completion. Both mediators and respondents (via mediators) were paid for their time and
endeavour.
52 International Migration Papers No. 94
Of course, we were not able to ensure a full representation of the selected sample of
respondents due to the nature of irregular migration. Despite not having a representative
sample, we believe that the given set of respondents revealed interesting and, indeed,
important pieces of information that shed light on immigrants’ lives.
The data set was processed using basic methods of adequate character of the pooled
data – basic statistical analysis, frequency analysis and simple descriptive and association
analysis, as well as hypothesis testing using nonparametric T-tests methods.
All analyses were carried out using the SPSS (SPSS Inc, Chicago, USA) statistical
packages. The use of the data was in accordance with the statutory obligations to protect
confidentiality. Individuals could not be identified from the data provided for analysis.
4.2. Results
4.2.1. Sample characteristics
Basic information about the surveyed sample of the immigrants is in Tables 1 to 5,
separately for a group of immigrants from Post-Soviet countries and the group from Viet
Nam. The composition of individuals in our sample with regard to age, gender, education
and family status does not differ fundamentally from data featured in more representative
studies of regular immigrants and in official Czech statistics (see e.g. Český statistický
úřad 2006). Both groups of respondents differ primarily in family status and education.
There are more single and higher educated Vietnamese respondents than those from Post-
Soviet countries. The sample under investigation represents immigrants with various
periods of residency in the Czech Republic; 50 per cent of whom have been in the country
for more than three years.
Table 1: Sample of respondents by sex and country of origin
Males Females Total
Post-Soviet Count 67 68 135
% 49.6 50.4 100
Vietnamese Count 14 10 24
% 58.3 41.7 100
Total Count 81 78 159
% 50.9 49.1 100
Table 2: Sample of respondents by age and country of origin
-24 25-29 30-39 40+ Total
Post-Soviet Count 17 29 54 35 135
% 12.6 21.5 40.0 25.9 100
Vietnamese Count 5 7 7 5 24
% 20.8 29.2 29.2 20.8 100
Total Count 22 36 61 40 159
% 13.8 22.6 38.4 25.2 100
International Migration Papers No. 94 53
Table 3: Sample of respondents by family status and country of origin
unmarried married divorced widow/-er partner Total
Post-Soviet Count 37 69 21 3 5 135
% 27.4 51.1 15.6 2.2 3.7 100
Vietnamese Count 15 9 0 0 0 24
% 62.5 37.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 100
Total Count 52 78 21 3 5 159
% 32.7 49.1 13.2 1.9 3.1 100
Table 4: Sample of respondents by education and country of origin
Basic Lower
secondary
Secondary University Total
Post-Soviet Count 11 74 28 22 135
% 8.2 54.8 20.7 16.3 100
Vietnamese Count 2 5 10 6 23
% 8.7 21.7 43.5 26.1 100
Total Count 13 79 38 28 158
% 8.2 50.0 24.1 17.7 100
Table 5: Sample of respondents by the length of the current stay in the Czech Republic and country of
origin (in months)
Months - 12 13-24 25-36 37- Total
Post-Soviet Count 26 22 12 66 126
% 20.6 17.5 9.5 52.4 100
Vietnamese Count 3 1 4 14 22
% 13.6 4.6 18.2 63.6 100
Total Count 29 23 16 80 148
% 19.6 15.5 10.8 54.1 100
4.2.2. Transit into the target country
In general, the surveyed immigrants included in our study came to the Czech
Republic from villages and towns of various sizes and categories of the countries of origin.
Almost one quarter arrived in the Czech Republic from small municipalities (up to 2,000
inhabitants); approximately 40 per cent came from small- to medium-sized towns, while
over one quarter of them came from large towns and cities. It is worth noting that 50 per
cent of the Vietnamese immigrants came from cities with populations of 100,000 and more
(Table 6).
The vast majority of the immigrants in our sample came to the Czech Republic
through regular channels and in most cases via tourist visa. Approximately ten per cent of
the sample crossed the borders irregularly. Of those, who entered irregularly, seven were
smuggled into the country, six crossed the borders using false documents (passport or visa)
and three crossed the borders irregularly on their own. Five of the irregular immigrants
were from Viet Nam and had been mostly smuggled into the country. On the other hand,
11 irregular migrants were from the post-Soviet countries and they used forged documents
to gain entry. Hence, in the Vietnamese sample such irregular migrants represented 21 per
cent whereas in the post-Soviet sample only eight per cent entered the Czech Republic
irregularly.
More than half of the respondents insisted that the decision to reach the Czech
Republic far outweighed the regrets they would have by leaving their country of origin.
54 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 6: Sample of respondents by size of the settlement in their country of origin
Size of the
settlement
-1,999 2,000-
9,999
10,000-
49,999
50,000-
99,999
100,000-
499,999
500,000+ Total
Post-Soviet Count 34 31 23 15 10 15 128
% 26.6 24.2 18.0 11.7 7.8 11.7 100
Vietnamese Count 2 3 1 2 1 7 16
% 12.5 18.8 6.3 12.5 6.3 43.8 100
Total Count 29 34 24 17 11 22 144
% 20.1 23.6 16.7 11.8 7.6 15.3 100
Figure 1 can help when deducing different motivations for the entry of immigrants
into the Czech Republic. Single-valued dominance of economic reasons in the group of
Post-Soviet immigrants compared with Vietnamese immigrants confirms generally
accepted impressions of differences between those two communities. On the other hand,
family reasons and opportunities to learn and to discover “something new” were of greater
importance for the Vietnamese group of respondents. The study results show that political
and environmental motives are not so important for migrants (from Post-Soviet countries
and Viet Nam) who perform irregular economic activities in the Czech Republic.
Figure 1: Importance of selected reasons that brought respondents to the Czech Republic (average
importance) – by country of origin.
0,00
0,50
1,00
1,50
2,00
2,50
3,00
3,50
4,00
4,50
5,00
economic political environmental psychological family
Post-Soviet
Vietnamese
Note: The respondents rated the reasons on a scale of 1 (unimportant) to 5 (key).
Figure 2 brings the differentiation by education vis-à-vis declared reasons for coming
to the Czech Republic. The economic situation is the dominant reason in all categories. For
immigrants with lower education (basic, secondary lower, secondary higher) are economic
reasons for arrival dominant (limited business opportunities, low wages, lack of
employment opportunities in their countries of origin etc.). For immigrants with higher
education the importance of psychological reasons increases (to discover something new,
to gain new experience and experiences, and an adventure). Family reasons were more
important for immigrants to the Czech Republic with the lowest education.
International Migration Papers No. 94 55
Figure 2: Importance of selected reasons that brought respondents to Czech Republic (average
importance) – by education
0,00
0,50
1,00
1,50
2,00
2,50
3,00
3,50
4,00
4,50
5,00
economic political environmental psychological family
basic
lower secondary
secondary
university
Note: The respondents rated the reasons on a scale of 1 (unimportant) to 5 (key).
4.2.3. Economic activities
In Tables 7 and 8 subjective attitudes of the respondents are expressed regarding
questions related to the breaking of labour and residency regulations. Results confirm that
there is a wide range of unlawful activities. They vary from those who do not have work
and residence permits to others who infringe upon some of the norms of labour law
relations and often are unaware of it. Nearly half of the respondents (47 per cent) do not
have work and residence permits. Little less than 40 per cent of the respondents can be
included in the quasi-regular subgroup, while the proportion of respondents from Viet Nam
is higher in this case (more than 50%) as compared to Post-Soviets.
Table 7: Sample of respondents by legality of employment or doing business by country of origin
Yes/No No Total
Post-Soviet Count 49 86 135
% 36.3 63.7 100.0
Vietnamese Count 13 11 24
% 54.2 45.8 100.0
Total Count 62 97 159
% 39.0 61.0 100.0
Table 8: Sample of respondents by legality of current residency arrangement by country of origin
Yes No Total
Post-Soviet Count 66 69 135
% 48.9 51.1 100.0
Vietnamese Count 16 8 24
% 66.7 33.3 100.0
Total Count 82 77 159
% 51.6 48.4 100.0
56 International Migration Papers No. 94
Table 9: Sample of respondents by legality of employment or doing business versus legality of current
residency arrangement
Employment/Business
Yes/No No Total
Yes Count 60 22 82
% 73.2 26.8 100.0
No Count 2 75 77
Residency
arrangement
% 2.6 97.4 100.0
Total Count 62 97 159
% 39.0 61.0 100.0
To a large degree, the vocations of irregular immigrants resemble typical pattern of
economic sectors recognized from officially published statistics of work permits.
Employment in construction is typical of immigrants from Post-Soviet countries, while
retail and wholesale (food, electronics etc.) is typical of immigrants from Viet Nam (Table
10). The net monthly income is closely connected to the type of employment and industry
and it is € 437 for Post-Soviet immigrants and € 519 for Vietnamese immigrants. The
demand for foreign labour and, especially, for irregular labour is permanently high.
Immigrants from Post-Soviet countries work on average 11 hours a day while immigrants
from Viet Nam work approximately nine hours a day. Over 80 per cent of immigrants
report regular weekend work.
Table 10: Employment structure of respondents by economic sectors and country of origin
Post-Soviet Vietnamese Total
Agriculture Count 4 0 4
% 3.0 0.0 2.5
Construction Count 48 0 48
% 35.8 0.0 30.4
Food industry Count 15 0 15
% 11.2 0.0 9.5
Other industries Count 17 1 18
% 12.7 4.2 11.4
Hotels/Restaurants Count 16 3 19
% 11.9 12.5 12.0
Trade Count 3 0 3
% 2.2 0.0 1.9
Wholesale Count 1 8 9
% 0.7 33.3 5.7
Retail Count 1 5 6
% 0.7 20.8 3.8
Transport Count 1 1 2
% 0.7 4.2 1.3
Services Count 22 2 24
% 16.4 8.3 15.2
Education Count 1 0 1
% 0.7 0.0 0.6
Domestic services Count 4 1 5
% 3.0 4.2 3.2
Other Count 1 3 4
% 0.7 12.5 2.5
Total Count 134 24 158
% 100 100 100
International Migration Papers No. 94 57
A point of interest is the distribution of immigrants by the size of businesses that
employ them. As one might expect the majority is represented by small firms with up to 20
employees, which is typical of Vietnamese immigrants. Nevertheless, representation of
larger companies is not insignificant too (see Table 11). In order to avoid detection, these
companies tend to hire irregular workers as subcontractors. Majority of respondents –
about 80 per cent –work with other foreigners who are predominantly members of their
own community.
It is quite normal for immigrants not to have a medical insurance. It concerns
especially Post-Soviet respondents, 75 per cent of them had none. On the contrary, 70 per
cent of the immigrants from Viet Nam had medical insurance.
It can be presumed that irregular immigrants may experience higher levels of
discrimination by the majority population. In fact, almost 40 per cent of the analysed
sample reported that they were discriminated against either at work or in their daily lives.
There was not a marked difference in reports of discrimination by Vietnamese vis-à-vis by
Post-Soviet immigrants.
Table 11: Size of company employing respondents by number of employees and by country of origin
Size of company
(number of
workers)
- 5 6 - 20 21 - 100 101 - 250 250 + Total
Count % Count % Count % Count % Count % Count %
Post-Soviet 34 26.8 44 34.6 31 24.4 9 7.1 9 7.1 127 100.0
Vietnamese 15 68.2 6 27.3 0 0.0 0 0.0 1 4.5 22 100.0
Total 49 32.9 50 33.6 31 20.8 9 6.0 10 6.7 149 100.0
4.2.4. Satisfaction