Assessing the Scale of Illegal Migration in Russia: Possible Approaches and Sources of Information

O. S. Chudinovskikh
2020 Voprosy statistiki  
The article discusses various approaches to estimate the scale of illegal migration in Russia, based on the use of administrative data of the Federal Migration Service, the Main Directorate for Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (MDM) and the Border Service of Russia. It is noted that the problem of assessing illegal migration for the Russian Federation has become very relevant since the late 1990s, when the migration landscape changed, and forced migration flows were
more » ... ed by mass labor migration, mostly undocumented.The article discusses the definitions of illegal migration and the main methodological and practical approaches to determining its scale. It is emphasized that in Russian practice, the definition of illegal migrants mainly implies foreigners with short-term or temporary status, working without permits and without the right to stay in Russia (most often, due to the excess of the permitted duration of stay). This narrowing of definitions is explained by the nature of migration processes in Russia: the predominance of short-term and temporary forms of migration, mainly for the purpose of employment, as well as visa-free entry for 90% of labor migrants.The paper provides a brief overview of the foreign practices of assessing illegal migration and explains the possibilities of using these methods in Russia. Several methodological approaches are considered in the article, based on different types of statistical information and involving different calculation algorithms for assessment of the stocks and flows of illegal migrants. In particular, it describes the system of criteria related to the right to work and stay in Russia, which was until recently used by the MDM of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia to identify the stock of violators among foreigners who were staying at a certain moment of time on the territory of Russia. In addition, a method of reclassification of purposes of entry to estimate the stock of potential undocumented labour migrants is being considered. To calculate the number of long-term illegal migrants staying in Russia for more than a year, it is proposed to use the "residual method", which is common in foreign practice. The article also shows the possibility of assessing the flows of undocumented labor migrants based on comparison of data on migrants' registration at a place of stay with the purpose "work" with the number of persons who received permits. The method based on the border control data which was used in early 2000s is discussed from a critical point of view.All approaches are illustrated with relevant statistical examples and accompanied by comments on possible vulnerabilities, dealing with both the data itself and the methodology. Explanations are given regarding the prospects and limitations of the materials of the all-Russian population censuses and the Labor Force Survey for estimates of illegal migration. In the final section of the article, the author formulates some recommendations to adjust the methodology for assessing the scale of illegal migration in Russia, for improvement of its accuracy. The necessity of changing the time criteria associated with excess of permitted duration of stay (those with visa and visa-free regime of entry to Russia) and the feasibility of structuring the stock of illegal migrants by duration of stay, that will allow to identify those who already refer to the permanent population, and to improve the international comparability of the Russian estimates.
doi:10.34023/2313-6383-2020-27-1-8-28 fatcat:nqm2zvzxnjavzpriwsu45oge3e