Real fake? Appropriating mobility via Schengen visa in the context of biometric border controls

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Although the majority of illegalised migrants in the European Union are so-called visa overstayers who enter with a Schengen visa only to become ‘illegal’ once it has expired, this mode of illegalised migration has only received scarce attention in border and migration studies so far. This article takes the introduction of biometric visa as an opportunity to compensate for this neglect by asking: How do migrants appropriate Schengen visa in the context of biometric border controls? Drawing on the autonomy of migration approach (AoM), it investigates the visa regime from the perspective of mobility in order to elaborate on one set of practices of appropriation that involves the provision of falsified or manipulated supporting documents upon which the decision to issue a biometric visa is based. The article draws on this example to develop a conception of the notion of appropriation that addresses the two central criticisms which have been raised against the AoM. Besides contributing to the AoM’s development, the article thus introduces a concept in debates on migrant agency that highlights, better than existing concepts, the intricate intertwinement of migrants’ practices with the means and methods of mobility control.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)2747-2763
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 10.12.2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • Autonomy of migration, biometric borders, irregular migration, migrant agency, visa policy
  • Sociology