Undocumented Migrants

  1. definition
  2. examples and/or illustrations
  3. other useful sources
  4. bibliography


Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants: http://picum.org/en/our-work/undocumented-migrants/ (Accessed February 5 2012)

(n) Undocumented migrants are those without a residence permit authorising them to regularly stay in their country of destination.

Undocumented Worker Transitions: http://www.undocumentedmigrants.eu/londonmet/library/h11625_3.pdf (Accessed February 5 2012)

(n) The term describes foreign citizens present on the territory of a state, in violation of the regulations on entry and residence, having crossed the border illicitly or at an unauthorized point: those whose immigration/migration status is not regular, and can also include those who have overstayed their visa or work permit, those who are working in violation of some or all of the conditions attached to their immigration status: and failed asylum seekers or immigrants who have no further right to appeal and have not left the country. It has been argued that the term is ambiguous as it refers both to migrants who have not been documented (recorded) and those without documents (passports etc).


Examples and/or Illustrations

There are various ways a person can become an undocumented migrant: 1) lack of success in asylum procedure; 2) overstayed a visa; 3) entered a country irregularly.

Country ambassadors and embassy staff that lose their diplomatic status while in a foreign country may also find themselves in an undocumented situation (PICUM 2012)


Other Useful Sources

Coleman, Matthew. (2008) “Between Public Policy and Foreign Policy: U.S. Immigration Law Reform and the Undocumented Migrant.” Urban Geography Vol. 29 Issue 1 pp. 4-28

Thomas, Chantal. (2010) “Undocumented Migrant Workers in a Fragmented International Order” Maryland Journal of International Law Vol. 25 pp. 187-229

Willen, Sarah. (2007) “Toward a Critical Phenomenology of “Illegality”: State Power, Criminalization, and Abjectivity among Undocumented Migrant Workers in Tel Aviv, Israel.” International Migration Vol. 45 Issue 3 pp 3-38

UNHCR (2012) “The International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology” http://www.refugeethesaurus.org/hms/home.php?publiclogin=1




Other related words (may be concepts):

  • Irregular migrants
  • Illegal migrants
  • Persons in limbo