"I live without a plan" : a livelihood study of people with rejected asylum applications and a protracted stay in Norway
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Around 18,000 people live without residence papers in Norway, the majority with rejected asylum applications (Zhang, 2008). To restrict immigration, Norwegian law limits rejected asylum seekers’ access to social rights and the formal labour market. We know little of their everyday lives and how they make a living. The present study uses a livelihoods framework to analyse how rejected asylum seekers with a protracted stay obtain the necessities of life including healthcare, housing, food, safety and social relations. Ten rejected asylum seekers are interviewed to explore how they use resources to employ tactics and strategies which then result in livelihood outcomes. This study examines what constraints and possibilities the context, institutions and organisations pose to rejected asylum seekers with a protracted stay. The findings of this study show that the respondents make do by relying on their social capital. They use creative tactics and strategies to acquire healthcare, housing, food, safety and social relations, though with few long-term plans for life. Institutions, such as state policies and law, constrain their access to formal work, social rights and feelings of safety, while non-governmental organisations enable them to access healthcare and maintain social relations. Results of their struggle to make do are feelings of depression and stress. However, through volunteer work and informal work the respondents find hope and well-being in social relations. This study also reveals exploitation in the informal labour market and thus recommends the Norwegian Parliament to allow rejected asylum seekers with a protracted stay the right to take on formal work and pay taxes.