The research in the UK examined the simultaneous processes of migrant integration, transnational mobility and capital transfers through the prism of different typologies of transnationalism, modified and reshaped by changing personal and family structures/circumstances, migration rules, economic and political developments, in the origin and at the destination.
It utilised a wealth of data from 78 Bosnian-Herzegovinian, Ukrainian, Indian and Filipino migrants in the UK, 18 returnees in India and Ukraine, and eight stakeholders. A couple of interviews captured the voice of the migrant second-generation.
The study showed that transnationalism could exist without physical travel to the origin. Undocumented status prevented transnational mobility but the strong engagement was maintained through the regular remitting and the sending of goods, donating to hospitals, and everyday talking to family members on the phone and social media. On a few occasions, transnational activism was practiced without physical travel.
There were examples of engagement in different modes of transnational mobility at different stages of respondents' lives. The demanding profile of transnational entrepreneurs was only identified in eight interviewees, Indian and Bosnian. There were transnational activists among the Filipinos, Bosnians and the Ukrainians. Philanthropic activities were registered towards all origin countries in the study, with the largest share of resources flowing to India.
The representatives of the 'transnational business class' were business graduates, sometimes headhunted and working in the City of London. They seem to be more cosmopolitan than transnational, with limited socio-cultural integration in the host environment. The latter loses significance against their dynamically changing work prospects, subject to migration and family status.
Physical mobility made transnational engagement much more feasible. Obtaining British citizenship or a permanent status was an important goal of most migration projects. The freedom of movement is likely to outweigh the 'British-ness' objective.
The integration of Indians and Filipinos in the UK was facilitated by English language proficiency on arrival and India-born in particular had the highly transferable cultural capital. For Filipinos, the social capital was an asset carried from the Philippines or acquired upon arrival through connections with ethnic associations. Filipino workers were identified in several sectors of the economy.
Time of arrival in the UK was an important predictor for one's challenges upon arrival in the UK, including obtaining permanent legalisation status, naturalisation, access to housing and employment. The recent years in the UK have been characterised by increasingly restrictive migration rules. As a result, several respondents in high skilled jobs considered moving to countries like the USA and Canada, where they expected more favourable migration policies.
The nature of transnationalism and the frequency of travel evolves in conditions of military conflict - the current one in Ukraine and the past conflict, with spill-over effects through more than 20 years, in Bosnia-Herzegovina - shifting political circumstances, migration rules and macroeconomic conditions.
Family support during travels between the UK and the origin countries was an important facilitator of transnational mobility. Reverse remittances were registered from parents in the origin who were supporting their children's' postgraduate studies in the UK. The pattern was most persistent among Indian respondents. The subsequent successful economic integration in the UK leads to transnational practices of a passive economic nature in the form of investment in commercial or residential properties, and financial investments.
The study in the UK argues that stable political situations in the home country and lack of conflict are the foundations of transnational mobility. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine appeared to be a significant impediment on the transnational practices in the east of the country (the war zone). The months of turmoil have taken their toll on the country; its struggling economy discourages investment and business activities. Similarly, the war in the former Yugoslavia dating back over 20 years still mars the transnational engagements in the area.
The challenge remains to develop a holistic framework for understanding migrant transnationalism, devoid of - as much as it is feasible - methodological nationalism.