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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Phase 3b: Interviews with Hong Kongers, Ukrainians and other new migrants to the UK


The second round of interviews was designed to document the experiences of those newly arriving in the UK, and it took place between September 2022 and February 2023.

The target population for this element of the research was designed to reflect the significant changes in migration flows to the UK since the end of the Brexit transition period—notably, the sharp decline in the number of EU citizens newly arriving in the UK, the significant numbers of those arriving in the UK via the Hong Kong BN(O) and Ukraine visa, and those coming to the UK via skilled and family visa routes.

To recruit participants we circulated recruitment materials directing to a Qualtrics-based contact form  via our project partners, the project’s social media channels, relevant Facebook groups (with prior permission from administrators), professional organizations, personal contacts, migrant and diaspora organizations and networks offering support to migrants and refugees in England and Scotland. In order to encourage recruitment across the broad demographics of those newly arriving in the UK, we translated the contact form, participant information sheet and consent form into Ukrainian and Cantonese. We also arranged to offer interviews in these languages upon request.

People who left their contacts online were subsequently contacted by a member of the project team and were sent the participant information sheet and consent form – containing detailed information on the project purpose, process, and procedures – alongside a request, if they consented to participate, to set up a time for an interview.  We sent one reminder to individuals who did not reply to our first email, but pursued this no further if we received no response.

Interview Design

Interviews followed a semi-structured format; they lasted an hour on average and were audio-recorded with the participants’ permission. Questions were broadly organised around finding out about migration and settlement experiences and relationships to place of origin and the UK and were adjusted to account for different migration motives and trajectories. They were articulated in eight main blocks:

  1. reasons for migrating to the UK;
  2. reasons for deciding to leave the country of origin;
  3. administrative preparations for the move;
  4. the journey and arrival in the UK;
  5. settling in the UK;
  6. making and maintaining connections between the place of origin and settlement;
  7. views on ‘Global Britain’’;
  8. assessment of the migration decision.

Every participant was also asked to provide (voluntary) demographic information by filling up a Qualtrics-based online form (in English) or a paper copy of it for interviews conducted in Ukrainian or Cantonese.

Data collection

Interviews largely took place online via Microsoft Teams, which is GDPR-compliant and offers recording, with a few (n.14) taking place in-person, in a public space (e.g., café). They were conducted in either English (n.35), Ukrainian (n.14) or Cantonese (n.4). Where interviews were carried out in Ukrainian or Cantonese, we employed researchers with fluency in these languages to conduct, transcribe and translate the interviews on our behalf, using the interview guide developed by the project team. Researchers signed a confidentiality agreement, and they were trained on the interview guide and procedures by a project team member. To ensure quality and consistency in the outputs delivered, the team reviewed the first interview conducted by each, and offered feedback as appropriate.

In total, we conducted fifty-three interviews: twenty-two with Hong Kongers, twenty with Ukrainians, seven with highly skilled workers and four with family migrants.

Post-interview processing

Interviews were transcribed and cleaned with the help of two research assistants; personal and identifying information was removed before importing the transcript to NVivo for analysis.


Interviews were thematically coded using a coding framework collectively developed by the team; each member piloted it, and everyone’s comments and observations were subsequently integrated in its final version. Key themes included people’s pre-departure imaginings of Britain; reasons underpinning their move to the UK; the capital, assets and resources carried and/or developed in migration; perceptions and experiences of belonging, integration and discrimination; social networks and the roles of these in people’s settlement trajectories; relationship between people’s country of origin and the UK, their views on ‘Global Britain’ and Brexit, and their plans for the future.

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