Nigerian Labour Migrants in Russia:Socio-Economic Integration Standpoint of Labour Migration


List of Abbreviations

ICESTC - Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation

NBS – National Bureau of Statistics

CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States

BEA – Bilateral Education Agreement

NIDO – Nigerians in Diaspora Organization

IOM – International Organization for Migration

USSR -Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


Migration whether internal or international is often in a triad; personal motives which could be for health, education, work or vacation etc. The second in the triad is the forced movement (crisis either natural such as flood, earthquake; religious, political or ethnic conflicts etc.); and the third is beingchannelled towards achieving institutional objectives such as plenipotentiaries. In thistriad, one must be the purposeof migration. Personal reasons along with forced migration have often dominated the core intent for migrating, while institutional objectives are mostly associated withpolicymakers. The increased dimensions of migration are predominantly due to the search for employment opportunities, escape from predicaments, poverty and political subjugation in Europe and other parts of the world (Adedokun, 2003).

Nigerian immigrants coming to the Soviet Union were only coming for the purpose of education and after the completion of their studies; they go back to their home country. The disintegration of the Soviet Union brought about a change in the migratory movement of immigrants coming to Russia. Immigrants now come for the purpose of reuniting with their family, to work and study. As one of the officials at the Nigerian Embassy in Russia stated,“… people who come to the USSR are either students or government representatives.” However, the break of the Soviet Union allowed migrants for different reasons to come into Russia which makes the society become multicultural(Blokland & Eijk, 2009) which is hitherto a strange phenomenon to the country and also among its people. This could, therefore, expose the immigrants to different challenges in adapting to the host society (Iversen, Sveaass, & Morken, 2012).

The push and pull factors which according to Ravenstein law of migration is the call forlabour is one of the major reasons for the upsurge in migration (Ravenstein, 1885). Not denying this proposition by Ravenstein citing the role of the push factors which for the labour migrants, it is the need to have an improved standard of living that is the most influential factor which drives migrants out of their countries, it suffices me to say that current issues around migration do not allow for a generalization of theories but a holistic and individual studies of countries (both the receiving and the sending countries) would provide a better understanding of the theories.

This study will make an emphasis onlabour migrant from Nigeria inRussia and their participation in thelabour market in the Russian economy using empirical information toanalyse the role of socioeconomic integration as a major contributor that influences the decision of the migrants. The impact of this study is that it will emphasize the relevance of socioeconomic integration as a major determinant that influences the decision of migrants on country of destination.

Research Problem

This researchis titledNigerian Labour Migrants in Russia:Socio-Economic Integration Standpoint of Labour Migration”. Migration is a global issue and it is my view that conducting empirical studies would allow a better understanding of the phenomenon. Also, there is no working integration policy in Russia and trying to understand the pattern of integration of one of the smallest group of migrants in Russia is the central point of this research. This research, therefore, tries to find out a major factor that influences the decision of migrants who are on a search for improved living standard and also the institution through which the migrants are integrated. In this light, a study about the life of Nigerians living and working in Russia are studied.


The central point of this research is to find the thin line between the push and pull factors oflabour migrants. The research tries to find out why the Nigerians that are working in Russia decide to choose Russia as their country of destination and therefore tries to check if the assertions that “People with blackcolour (Nigerians inclusive) are raciallyabused and are victims of discrimination” truly exist. Also, this research tries to find out the extent (using language, accommodation, education,and employability as measurements) to which Nigerians that are working in Russia are integrated into the social and economic spheres in Russia. To carry out these objectives, the research uses a micro level analysis with particular reference on Nigerianlabour migrants living in Moscow.

Research Questions

To be able to solve the research problem, this research tries to find answers to some research questions which would aid the research topic.


I hypothesize that the level of integration enjoyed bylabour migrants in both the social and economic aspects of the host country is a major factor that influences the decisions oflabour migration.

Theoretical Framework

This research adopts the conceptual framework developed by Ager and Strang which helps to shape the understanding of the concept of integration that has been given a wide recognition among scholars. The development of the framework helps to put together and explain the various attempts that have been put forward to define and measure the concept of integration. However, the goal of the framework is to identify potential indicators that determine the level of migrants’ integration in the host country. The framework covers aspects such as access to employment, housing, education,and health; citizenship and rights; roles of social links and connections; language barrier(Ager & Strang, 2008). This framework isanalysed in the diagram below.


Markers and Means

These are activity areas that determine successes and failures of integration. These indicators are also identified by the United Nations Geneva Convention of 1951 which tries to measure refugee’s rights in terms of employment, housing, social welfare and education(UN, 1951). The markers and means are potentialsthat help to support the integration process of immigrants.

Social Connections

This explains the roles played by the migrants’ networks in fostering immigrants’ integration in the new society. Using the social capital theory whichemphasises on shared norms, values among and within groups, he divided social connections among immigrants into three different parts:


The Knowledge of the language of the host society is a catalyst to immigrants’ integration. This does not only make the migrants understand the local people of the new society, it also increases their chances of economic integration. Able to communicate in the society’s language also serves as security. Two areas were identified to serve as a major hindrance to the immigrants’ participation in the new society they find themselves.


The framework proposed byAger and Strang covers ten major indicators which give a better understanding of the concept of integration. This framework is however categorised into two byChristian and Tommaso aseconomic andnon-economic factors (Dustmann & Frattini, The socio-economic integration of migrants., 2011). For this research, I used the classification ofChristian and Tommaso’seconomic andnon-economic factors and explained the domains highlighted byAger and Strang with particular emphasis on employment, education, housing, social connections (social bonds and social bridges), and language.


Background of the Study and Literature Review

Migratory History of Nigerians

Migration is an ambiguous term which makes its definition varies across diverse views among scholars. In simple words, migration involves the movement of people initially dwelling in one part of the country or from one country to another part of the country or to a different country (IOM, 2011). It is, however, an intricate and multifaceted process which involves different intents but havingfar-reaching impacts on the individual, the country or place of origin and the country or place of destination (Uche C. & IOM, 2016). According to the United Nations, an international migrant is any person who changes the country of his or her original residence. Therefore, international migration could be explained as themovement of people owing to different factors such as economic rationale, family unification or refugees. It should be known that migration data and information for countries vary in their reliability and comprehensiveness but for this research, migration data of Nigerians are garnered basically from the databases of IOM and the World Bank.

Nigeria, being the demographic giant in Africa, migration has over time shaped her history, culture and political development. Being the most populous Black nation in the world with a population of about 186 million out of which 45% are less than 15 years and 3% aged 65 and above, shows that migration tends to particularlyfavour the young and active population (World Bank, 2017). Also, the population growth rate has been put at 2.6% which is relatively high (World Bank, 2015) and having an unemployment rate which was as at 2014, 7.8%, hasincreased to 14.2% by the third quarter of 2016 (NBS, 2018). These factors would by no means influence the desire of many Nigerians to seek for alternative measures elsewhere whichhave led to the increase in the number of Nigerian migrants. With the growing trend of unemployment in the country, this has led to the growth of poverty.In a means of trying to escape living in the quagmire of poverty, people tend to look for fortune elsewhere (Mberu & Pongou, 2010).

The migratory history of Nigeria can be viewed from the dispensations experienced in the country: pre-colonial, colonial,and post-colonial (Adejumoke, Godwin, & Olumuyiwa, 2008). In the pre-colonial period, it should be mentioned that there was no country called Nigeria but different empires and kingdoms, but there has been human mobility and migration in the different empires and kingdoms. Such mobilityincludesnewly found settlements, slave raiding and trading activities, pilgrimage tradition, and war (Adejumoke, Godwin, & Olumuyiwa, 2008). The colonial periodwitnesses the amalgamation of the different kingdoms and empires together to form thecountry called Nigeria. During this period both internal and international migrations occurred simultaneously. Most Nigerian migrated to the United Kingdom to continue their higher education. This is also a trend which continued after independence (Haas, 2006). Thepost-colonial or post-independence era saw a continued movement of people both internally andinternationally. Nigeria became a destination country for most of her West African neighbours because of the riches and opportunities owing to a buoyant economy and a good standard of living due to the discovery of oil but however, owing to the fall in the price of oil at the international market, and the dependence on oil as the chief export, the country experienced a backlash as there was an increase in poverty and most people saw emigration as the best option to escape such predicament (Adejumoke, Godwin, & Olumuyiwa, 2008).

Nigeria has been both the sending and receiving country of migrants in Africa and particularly, within the West Africa sub-region (Adepoju, 2004).  The role Nigeria plays in the migration system in Africa cannot be ignored; as a destination, transit and source country. This role is characterizedby both positive and negative patterns of migration (Haas, 2006) with violent extremism as the chief driver for displacement and migration (IOM, 2018). Nigeria is one of the countries with large numbers of emigrants(Dilip, et al., 2011) with an estimated figure as at 2013 relating to the stock of emigrants of 1,030,322 (IOM, 2016). According to the report, as at 2013, 35.6percent of Nigerian emigrants live within the shores of the African continent; 34.2 in Europe and 26.4percent in America basically, the North America and the rest in other parts of the world such as Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania (IOM, 2016).The ten most preferred counties of destination for Nigerians migrants include the United States, United Kingdom, Cameroon, Ghana, Italy, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast, Canada, Togo, Spain, Germany, United Arab Emirate, Ireland, Niger and South Africa (Pew Research Center, 2016). The two main destination countries for Nigerians are the United States and the United Kingdom (I-MAP, 2011) which is due to the presence of various opportunities opened to them with respect to job opportunities, education and training, and socio-cultural identification compared to other countries.

In 2013, the total number of Nigerian migrants in Eastern Europe was3,166 (Uche C. & IOM, 2016). Most Nigerians who migrate to Russia are there basically to continue their education or as a representative of the Nigerian government at the embassy but however, the year 2011 marked a change in the number of Nigerian migrants coming to Russia. There was a consistent increase in the number of Nigerians migrating toRussia until 2017. The official statistics of the Russian Statistics Department 2018 shows that there are is a decrease in the number of Nigerians who arrived in Russia in 2017 compared to the year before. The report shows that about 405Nigerians migrated to Russia in 2017(ROSSTAT, 2018). In understanding the migratory strategies of Nigerians, the exogenous and endogenous factors have to be considered. Particularly, for Nigerian migrants who made Russia their destination country, these two factors cannot be studied in isolation. The exogenous factorsexplain economic differentials, internal stability/political disorder, international security, and global networks of communication and transportation as the determining factors that influence migrants’ decision to migrate. While the latter, endogenous factors, relates to the personal decision-making process of migrants which form their desire and perception of potential places of destination and social- networks that influence the migration streams (Mabogunje, 1970).

Fig. 1:Number of Nigerians who arrive in Russia (1997-2017)

Source: ROSSTAT, 2018

The Place of Russia

Although Russia did not colonize any African country, there has long been a history of interaction that Russia shares with Africa. Such interactions include meetings in Holy Pilgrimages both of the Christian and Muslims to the Holy lands (Alexandra & Shubin, 2013). Also, before the revolution in Russia, the country established a consular office in Cairo (Egypt), Ethiopia and the South African Republic (then called the Transvaal) which has helped to maintain a steady relationship with the countries before their independence andafterward. However, these contacts continued to spread to other African countries in the 1960s as many African countries began to gain independence (Alexandra & Shubin, 2013). In the periods of the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union had become a very important partner to Africa with particular emphasis in the struggle against thecolonial administration and apartheid rule. Though the communist ideology of the Soviet Union was not shared by most of the national leaders in Africa, the Soviet Union had a great contribution to the collapse of foreign domination in Africa (Obasekola, 2011). Russia played a significant role in ensuring that the Declaration of Granting Independence to colonies was signed.  By the 1980s, Russia already had abilateral agreement inthe economic,cultural and other fields with a lot of African countries in a quest to fostering development. Also, so many African students were given scholarships to study in Russia (principally, in the former USSR) and at the completion of their studies, they go back to their countries and implement a developmental programme (Alexandra & Shubin, 2013). Until the 1980s, the image of Africans as seen by Russians were people fighting against the dominance of imperialism and economic retardation but after the period of Gorbachev’s Perestroika, Africans have often been portrayed as emblems of hopeless savagery and stupidity which implies that helping Africans is a waste of time and resources (Bondarenko, Demintseva, Usacheva, & Zelenova, 2014). This was the perception Russians had towards Africans and some sections of the media as also helped in strengtheningthese stereotypical perceptions.

Nigeria-USSR Relations

The opening of the Russian Embassy in Nigeria in 1961 marked the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the USSR. This feat was reciprocated by the Nigerian government in 1962 (Waliyullahi, 2016). Like most other African countries, from the period of their independence to the break of the SovietUnion, practiced the “non-alignment policy” due to the heightened tension existing between the West and the East(Ogunbadejo, 1988). The political leaders in Nigeria during this international melee were pro-West and were reluctant to accepting aids from the USSR (Waliyullahi, 2016) but the civil war in Nigeria which almost plunge the country into a state of anarchy and disintegration tilted her to the East when the USSR became the major arms supplier for the federal government of Nigeria (Ogunbadejo, 1988) when Nigeria’s traditional allies (USA and UK) were reluctant to support the course of the Nigerian government by granting her request for the supply of arms (Edgar, 2014).

The relationship that existed between Nigeria and the USSR during this period was described as ranging from being “cold to lukewarm” (Onafowokan, 2010) but with the civil war, the USSR became the arms ally for Nigeria which had a great impact in ending the civil war. This,however, opened the windows of opportunities that played out between the two countries in the security, political, economic and socio-cultural spheres (Edgar, 2014).

With a renewed trust between the Nigerian government and the USSR, many joint documents were signed which include Agreements such as: air communication (1967), economic, scientific and technical cooperation (1968), cultural and scientific cooperation and exchanges (1970), economic and technical cooperation in the construction of new metallurgical project in Nigeria (1976), trade relations (1987), intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation (1989). According toWaliyullahi (2016), the series of agreements between Nigeria and the USSR have led to the involvement of the Soviet Union in the different sectors of the Nigerian economy ranging from metallurgy, petroleum industry, public health service and training of personnel, so also in geological surveys. In 1979, the Ajaokuta Steel Mill Company was constructed by the Soviet government to boost the steel industry and Nigeria’s economic base at a sum of about 184 million US Dollars (Obasekola, 2011). Also, a lot of Nigerian youths became beneficiaries of the Soviet Union Scholarship (Edgar, 2014). In the petroleum industry, the USSR between 1977 and 1982 constructed two systems of oil pipelines of 920km with a total output of 18.7 million tons per year (Obasekola, 2011).

Nigeria-Russia Relations

However, the influence of the USSR in Nigeria and Africa at large began to diminish in the wake of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reconstruction agenda which cumulated to the end of the cold war (Ojo, 1976) and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. This created a New World Order with capitalism becoming the dominant ideology after the collapse of the communist system. Russia became the most viable country of the other former Soviet Union republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine,and Uzbekistan) and needed to rise from the ruins left from the USSR (Edgar, 2014).

The new governmentwas faced with the challenge of building a new political administration and also to build a strong economic system. And because of her economic frailty, Russia had limited influence in their African relations. This period was also characterizedby the military dictatorship in Nigeria whichplunges the country into domestic political and economic challenges. However, the coming of a democratic government in 1999 brought a renewed relationship between the two countries with the signing of a friendly relations and partnership, signing of other bilateral agreement such as the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) and also the establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation (ICESTC) which laid the basis for a mutually beneficial relations between the two countries to strengthen their economic ties (Edgar, 2014).

Currently, Nigeria is the second largest trading partner with Russia in the Sub-Saharan continent while Russia is the tenth biggest trading partner with Nigeria in the world (Edgar, 2014). There is a renewed economic interest in Nigeria in sectors such as energy,hydrocarbon extraction, metals and farm mechanization (Obasekola, 2011).

It is of note that the population of Africans in Russia are the minority but thebreakup of the Soviet Union opened the door to migration flow from many countries all over the world contrary to the internal flow of migrants during the Soviet Union period. This is a drive towards theliberalization of the economy which would make the economy to be more competitive forindustrialization(Heleniak, 2016). The need to encourage and control the inflow oflabour migrants became necessary to facilitate the economic growth of the country. With the break of the Soviet Union in1990,Russia became the dominant country among the former countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Over the years, there have been different policies on migration but the introduced in 2012 was meant to address different issues which I have termed socio-economic-demographic reasons.

The migration of countries of the former CIS into Russia is an obvious trend even before the disintegration of the Soviet Union(Heleniak, 2016). However, migration of other countries into Russia is a novel phenomenon. The table below shows that there is an increase in the number of migration of other countries into Russia but themajority of the migration is from the CIS.

(thousand persons)

Source: ROSSTAT, 2017

Nigerian Diasporas

There has been a constant increase in the number of international migration of both the skilled and the unskilled persons most of which are from the developing countries migrating to the developed countries(Akusoba, 2014). Nigerians are not left out in the floodgates of migrants seeking for better opportunities in the developed countries.There are many Nigerian who are very talented that are now residing in the developed countries who could play a very important role in Nigeria's development. This movement of trained and skilled personnel from a country of origin to other countries for better opportunities is known as brain drain. The termbrain drain can also be explained as the global transfer of knowledge and resources in the form of human capital and applies to the migration of academics, skilled professionals, technical manpower and experts from developing to developed countries(Akusoba, 2014).This trend has over the years become a common occurrence in Nigeria with major effects in sectors such as health, university lecturers, engineering, and information technology (Mba & Ekeopara, 2012).As of 2000, about 10.7% of Nigerians who are highly skilled and who got their training in Nigeria are living abroad with the United States of America and Europe having the largest share of the Nigerian skilled workers (Docquier & Marfouk, 2006).

Fig 3:World Bank data on brain drain

The picture above shows top ten countries of destination for Nigerian with tertiary education in 1990 and 2000. The infinite number of the active Nigerians who migrate to developed countries in search of greener pasture constitutes a chronic brain drain to the country. According to Mojeed-Sanni,as of2004, about 3.24 million Nigerians havetravelled to the USA in search of an improved living standard (Mojeed-Sanni, 2012). The breakdown of which professionals from the Nigerian Universities are the majority, he added that about 250,000 professionals are University lecturers in the USA.

Between 1997 and 2016, the remittance flow into the country has increased from $168 million to $19 billion (World Bank, 2017). Also, the flow remittance takes about 4.6% of the GDP (World Bank, 2017). At the moment, the National University Commission (NUC) is exploiting the potentials for Nigerians in the diasporas to contribute to tertiary education in the country (Uche C. & IOM, 2016). In a means of ensuring a stable relationship between the source country and their host countries, Nigerians in the diasporas are also active in transnational transactions which have promoted the flow of trade, capital,and technology back to Nigeria (Uche C. & IOM, 2016).

The organizational arm of the Nigerian Diasporas is calledNigerians in Diaspora Organisation(NIDO).The continental arms of the global Nigerians in Diaspora are operational in four continents which are 796NIDO-Europe, NIDO-Americas, NIDO-Asia and NIDO-Africa. NIDO-Russia is a chapter ofNIDO-Europe with her headquarter in London (NIDO-Russia, 2018). The core vision of NIDO isto develop effective, unified podium for Nigerians abroad to tie together their endowments, knowledge and assets for Nigeria’s national development and nation building (NIDO-Russia, 2018).

Comparison of Nigeria and Russia

Nigeria occupies an area with 923,768 km2 with 356,667 square miles. Her climate varies according to the regions in the country: equatorial in the south, tropical in thecentre and arid in the north. Nigeria is the most populous Black nation in the world with a population of over 186.5 million out of which 45% are less than 15 years (World Bank, 2017). The population growth rate is 2.44% with alabour force of 57.46 million and has a percentage of literacy at 59.6(World Bank, 2015). The 2016 data released by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigeria is facing an increasing high unemployment level of 18.8% with an increasing rate of youth unemployment and underemployment at 52.7% as at the third quarter of 2017(NBS, 2018) and 77% of the employed earning less than $2 per day(World Bank, 2015) which shows that the poverty rate in the country is very high at 46%.The inflation rate in Nigeria as at March 2018 is put at 14.33%  which is a reflection ofhigh price consumers had to pay for goods and services that has led to the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) to 13.34%(NBS, 2018). The Human Development Index (HDI) of the country is 0.514 placing the country at a position of 152 out of 188 countries that are put into consideration(UNDP, 2015). The country’s nominal GDP in 2015 is put at N94, 268 billion and the income from Foreign Direct Investment in 2016 is $699.4 million(NBS, 2018). The distribution of family income – Gini coefficient index is 42.97 as at 2009 ( indicating that there is a concentration of wealth among few Nigerians at the expense of themajority. Nigeria has a net migration rate of -0.3 which signifies that more people are fleeing the country(World Bank, 2017).The majority of those fleeing the country owing to some factors such as ambiguity in government vision for the country, corruption, lack of job opportunities, widening gaps in the exchange rate and so on, are those in the working range, who are strong, productive and educated.

Russia, on the other hand, has the largest territory in the world. It occupies more than 11% of theland boundary on the earth. It has a dwindling population of less than 144 million and a population growth rate of 0.2% asof 2015(World Bank, 2015). Thelabour force inRussia is about 74.89 million with unemployment put at 5.7%(World Bank, 2015). The poverty rate in Russia according to the World Bank is put at 13.4%. Compare to Nigeria, the country has a high human development of 0.798(UNDP, 2015). The GDP percapita according to the World Bank is 9092.58 US dollar.Russia is a destination of attraction for a lot of migrants from the developing countries mostly from the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS), the former territories of the Soviet States due to the high standard of living and the possibility of earning an improved pay and having a better lifestyle. Again, thelabour market of the country allowsthe employmentof foreigners in both the formal and the informal sectors of the country(Yudina, 2005). After the break of the Soviet Union, theRussianeconomy went through series of transformation which ensured that most of thegovernment-owned assets wereprivatised and allowed more investment by private individuals in the country(Blasi, Kroumova, & Kruse, 1997).

Comparing the economic development of Russia and Nigeria shows a huge imbalance. Russia is more economically developed than Nigeria and this is an exogenous factor that necessitates the increase in the number of Nigerianstravelling to Russia.Martin (2005) says that migration is as a result of the disparities in the demographic and economic development of countries. The movement of labour migrants is influenced by an economic factor ranging from employment opportunities, the wage gap, differentials in exchange rate among others which will be influenced by an improved lifestyle (Massey D. S., et al., 1993). This disparity is clearly shown in the tabular representation of the comparison of Russia and Nigeria in the table below:

Table 1: Comparison of Russia and Nigeria



GDP ($)

Minimum Wage

GNI per capita ($)






Net Migration Rate




144 mln

1.283 tr







$6,870 bi


186.5 mln

404.7 bln







$20,459 bi

Sources: ROSSTAT, 2018, NBS, 2018, UNDP, 2015, and World Bank, 2018

The table shows the disparity in the economic situation of Russia and Nigeria. Nigeria has a larger population size than Russia but with a lower GDP which indicates that Russia has a more productive economy than Nigeria. This is also reflected in the GNI per capita of the two countries. The GNI reflects the average income of a country's citizens.The gross national income (GNI) is the total localand foreign output claimed by residents of a country, consisting of gross domestic product (GDP) plus factor incomes earned by foreign residents, minus income earned in the domestic economy by non-residents (Tadoro Michael & Smith, 2006). This is a reflection of the unemployment rate in the Russia and Nigeria. Nigeria has a higher unemployment rate than Russia and the resultant effect of this is the high poverty rate in Nigeria. The minimum wage is the least amount of wage expected by employers to pay to their employees reveals that workers in Russia are expected to earn more than twice the amount of the Nigerian counterparts. The HDI is a measurementof life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators. It is used by the United Nations Development Programme to rank countries. Russia is ranked 49 with a life expectancy and mean years of schooling at 70.3 and 15.0 respectively while Nigeria is ranked 152 with a life expectancy and mean years of schooling at 53.1 and 10.0 respectively (UNDP, 2015). The net migration shows that there are more Nigerians emigrating the country than the immigration flow into the country. Majority of the people migrating out of the country are the active population who are in search of a greener pasture outside the country (Afolayan, Ikwuyatum, & Abejide, 2009). This has led to the huge amount of remittance flow to Nigeria.

Review of Literature

Both economic and natural  resources are not equally distributed among countries of the world and with the fact that there exist distinct characteristics between the developed countries and developing countries, migration into a country that is economically better than the country of origin follows a different process. For migrants to benefit from the social and economic aspect of their host country, a form of inclusion would enhance this possibility. According to Rudiger and Spenser, integration is a process of social inclusion of people who are new to a particular society (Rudiger & Spencer, 2003).

In a view similar to the work ofChristian and Tommaso on socio-economic integration, Dustmann and Weiss concluded that socio-economic integration of migrants into the economic spheres of the host country is however very important. They show in their analysis that not less than a percentage of 30% of immigrants in the United Kingdom leave within 5 years of their initial arrival (Dustmann & Weiss, 2007). This, however, shows that if integration is not properly managed, it becomes a major challenge for migrants to fit-in in the country of destination.

Integration of migrants is measured in terms of accommodation, employability, level of education, and socio-cultural adaptation to the new society (Rinus, 2003). Berglund et al. explained that for migrants to integrate into thelabour market of the host country there are certain factors that hinder their smooth integration. Some of the factors include discrimination, thelevel of education and negative perception towards the migrants (Berglund Else, 1999). Language is another factor that I will add to complement the list of factors that help to influence the integration process of migrants into the labour market of the host country.Demintseva also pointed out that the type of settlement area where the migrants live is another factor that contributes to determining how integrated the migrants would be in the host country (Demintseva, 2017). The composition of the environment where the migrants find themselves helps to shape their perspective about the native people and also influences their attitudes towards them.

Zineb Nahmed and Boris Najman explain the inclusion of migrant in thelabour market of the host country (Nahmed & Najman, 2012).Using the level of academic attainment of migrants with acomparison to their wages, they concluded that migrants are victims of discrimination in their host country which they referred to as an imbalance between the level of education of the migrants and the demand forlabour in the market.According to Hum and Simpson, immigrants’ integration into the economy of the country allows them to enjoy a measure of living relatively equivalent to the native-born (Hum, 2004). One of the major ways the level of migrants’ social-economic integration in the host country is the labour market. Waldinger puts it that socio-economic integration is the impact the immigrants exercise in the labour market of the host country (Waldinger, 1982). ILO explains that the labour market could be measured in terms of its employability (Castillo Monica, 2011).

Social-economic integration is the integration of migrants into the labour market of the country and the level of economic mobility that the migrants enjoy in the labour market. Social-economic integration is connected to the involvement of the migrants in the labour market of their country of destination (Entzinger & Biezeveld, 2003). Economic mobility in the labour market enables a labour with the opportunity to change one place of employment for another (Long & Ferrie, 2003). To understand the concept of socio-economic integration and the challenges it poses to migrants, other indicators such as income level, the level of social security, social policy and welfare must be considered (Bijl & Verweij, 2012) (Ali, 2016). According to the IMF, the disparity in the income level of the native-born and immigrants shows inequality in opportunities within the economic field in the country (Dabla-Norris, Konchhar, Suphaphiphat, Ricka, & Tsounta, 2015). The number of opportunities opened to the migrants in the labour market also determines the level of economic mobility. The ILO explains social security as theprotection that a government provides to the society (Labour, 2001). This protection covers unemployment, work injury, accessibility to health etc. Social policy and welfare are concerned with the well-being of the individuals in a country (McClelland, 2001). The well-being of the migrants is equally of importance to the host country and the level at which migrants benefit from having a relatively equal income, social security, social policy and welfare in the state determines their social-economic integration. Two major factors that could facilitate or hinder the steady integration process in the labour market are the educational status of the migrants and the knowledge of the language of the host country (Entzinger & Biezeveld, 2003).

The influx of international workforce in the Russian economy is increasing which is caused by the high standard of living and the possibility of earning higher salary; she also attributed this to the demand for foreign workers and the open employment opportunities it offers in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy (Yudina, 2005). The vast opportunities that are open to foreign workers are the major factors that are influencing the economic expansion of the once closed economy. Over 100 countries have nationals who are in Russia for employment opportunities. According to data recorded in 2016 by ROSSTAT, there are 796 Nigerians who immigrated to Russia. Maritsa identified the role that the migrant’s social network ties play in ensuring that migrants are well integrated into the new community they find themselves (Maritsa, 2003). Many migrants have acquaintance and in somecases, more than one whohelps to facilitate the integration process in the host country. The role of social migrant networks cannot be underestimated. It helps to mitigate the cost and risk involved in migration (Haug, 2008). Also, the existence of migrant networks or diaspora helps to influence the decision of migrants in the choice of country destination (Vertovec, 2002). The network concept of migration suggests that migratory movement occurs due to existing links between the country of origin and destination which include factors such as colonial ties, bilateral trade agreement (Castles & Mark, 2009). The multiplier effect of thesocial migrant network is strengthened and expanded with the addition of each migrant which enables prospective migrants are able to benefit from theexistence of the social networks and ethnic communities in the country of destination.

One inevitable consequence of migration is the increasing trend of anethnic and racial multiplicity of societies. The Increase in the trend of international migration means that a growing number of countries have become or are becoming moreethnicallydiverse, and are met with the challenge of accepting peoples of different cultures, races, religions,and language (ILO,IOM;OHCHR, 2001).  In various circumstances, migrants are faced with discrimination in their country of destination. In many cases, undocumented migrants are often the victim of this unpleasant situation — However, regardless of the status of the migrants, whether documented or undocumented, migrant workers are often the subject to unequal treatment/job opportunities in their host country. Migrant workers are more inclined to be concentrated in low paying, low skilled, dangerous jobs, and are often a victim of a number of employment restrictions in their host country (Schachter , Jason P., 2007).

Chapter Two: Methodological Framework


A comparative study of Nigerian migrants who arrived during the USSR and Russia is carried out to explain the perception of the host country towards “foreigners”. Here, the word “foreigners” was a common repetition from the respondents during the field work. Most of the respondents concluded that the “Blacks” are the only noticeable foreigner living in Russia. But for this research, I refrain myself from using it because of the specific nature of the research which is essentially towards Nigerianlabour migrants. My primary data is gathered from the interviews that I conducted between December 2017 and February 2018. A total of 21indepth interviews were conducted withlabour migrants from Nigeria who are living in Moscow, Russia. I applied the snowballing techniques to get my interviewees which according to Biemacki and Waldorf(1981) allow the researcher to have a chain of referrals. It startswith the known respondents who also give a list of other respondents that could be contacted to participate in the research. This method particularly suites the research because the section of the migrant group that is under study is quite small. All the respondents that were interviewed are resident in Moscow and are of different ages and genders. Also, they include migrants who came during the period of the Soviet Union and also after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Both the documented and the undocumented migrants were part of the respondents. A total of seventeen (17) males and four (4) females participated in the interview. The age of the respondents ranges from 25 years to 57 years.

Methods and Techniques

The study is aimed at looking at the influence of socioeconomic integration as a major factor that spurs migration with a study of a specific group of migrants residing in Russia. To carry out the research, a qualitative study is conducted on this group. The qualitative research method that is applied to this study includes interviews, good research skills and a careful selection of respondents. This is a field study,therefore, the personal account and experience of the respondents are very important for the credibility of the study. A criterion sampling method which involves the selection of respondents based on certain predetermined characteristics was applied in the selection process (Patton, 2002). A set of criteria which the respondents needed tofulfill to qualify for the interview include:

Data Collection: Semi-Structured Interviews

A prepared semi-structured interview guide was used for the qualitative field study research. The interview guide formulated for the research consists of 42 open-ended questions (see appendix) which allow the respondents to give a detailed explanation of their experiences and also express themselves freely. All the interviews carried out were one on one since the personal experience of the respondents are needed for the study each of the interviews was between forty minutes and one hour thirty minutes. Before the start of the interview, the respondents were told the rationale of the study and their permission were received to record the conversation and also use it for academic purpose. Also, that their identities remain anonymous and confidential; and their information won’t be released to anyone without their consent. All the names specified in this paper are not real names of the respondents as their identities remainconcealed. The interviewees were also told that if there are questions that they need clarification on, they could ask for it to be clarified and if there are questions that they feel they don’t want to answer, they have the right to pass the question. The language of communication during the interview was the English language and the locations for the interview were specificallychosen by the respondents.

Data Analysis

The interviews that I conducted were tape recorded and later transcribed which formed the text of my data analysis. Analyzing the data I got from the interviews, I used a direct interpretation for some of the information I gathered and also tried tocategorise some of the variables. A descriptive method and  an “in vivo” style of coding were used which allows me to use the direct language of the respondents in coding (Bцhm, 2004). The codeswere subsequently categorised into further sub-sections. Comparing the variations in the interviews, I divided the year of arrival into two (USSR and Russia). To fully grasp the concept of the data, I explained the data using three indicators that I considered fit for integration the Russian situation which I used to formulate the socio-economic integration cycle.

All the respondents have a higher education and are currently employed or actively engaged in a business activity. I also tried to explain the type of sectors that they are involved and also the number of jobs they have had since participating in thelabour market in Russia. The income or salary level was put at 50,000 rubles which isabove the subsistence income level in Russia. This is so because of the cost of living in Moscow which is quite onthe high side. Discrimination on job search was either yes or no while relationship with Russian colleagues at theworkplace I categorized as good, bad, both, and indifference. At the social level, I tried to get information on the settlement area where the respondents are living, their relationship with their Russianneighbours and also whether they have experienced discrimination or not in trying to get an accommodation. For proficiency in the Russian language, I used a scale of 1-5 (1=poor, 2=basic, 3=intermediate, 4=good, 5=fluent). Also at the environmental level, I tried to look at the role of migrant networks and the Nigerian Community in the process of integration.

Having done this, I was able to use the responses from the interviews to determine the different institutional processes that determine the level of socio-economic integration of Nigerianlabour migrants in Russia. I further explained this process in acycle which helped to further understand the concept of socio-economic integration in the absence of norecognised governmental policies that could be used to measure the successes or failures of the country in migrant’s integration but rather on the reliance on the personal experience of the migrants. However, sincemost literature on integrationhave concentrated majorly on explaining the concept using the various policies on migrant integration, to study such concept in Russia, the personal accounts of the migrantsbecomes very imperative. It is also equally pertinent to note that all the literature that I consulted did not consider integration in both the social and economic aspects as one of the pull-push factors thatinfluences the decision oflabourmigrant's selection of country of destination.

Fig. 4

Having come up with the cycle forming the 3 Es (Education, Economy,and Environment), it shows the welcoming institutions of integration that applies to the migratory movement of Nigerians into Russia. The education institution looks into the programmes initiated by the receiving academic institutions to ensure the integration process of the Nigerians coming foracademic purposes. The economy explains thelabour market, wages,and salary, prospectof getting employment opportunities and discrimination. The environment category looks into the role of settlement area, accessibility to housing service, migrant’s social and cultural network. I used the analysis of the interactions between all of these institutions to explain the level of socio-economic integration of Nigerianlabour migrants in Russia.

Before the fieldwork started, I envisaged some possible challenges that could affect the realization of a successful research. Firstly, I anticipated refusal to grant me audience by some people due to the ethnic division in Nigeria. I expected this because of my initial experienced during my previous fieldwork but this problem did not appear because all of my respondents were willing to support my research and did not consider the aspect of ethnic differences. However, the major challenge that I encountered during thefieldwork was tracking the respondents in order to have an interview with them. Some of the respondents after giving their consent to have an interview with them would unexpectedly send a message that they won’t be available for the interview. Another problem I faced was the frailty of the respondents to remember the totality of what they have been through.

Chapter Three: Findings

According toCrul,analysing the outcomes of migrants’ integration into their host community does not have a similar theoretical framework that is dominant across all countries (Crul, 2016). I also support this position that migration issues should be studied empirically in different countries because migration theories may not have the same application and usage in countries. The process of integration of Nigerianlabour migrants in Russia is also unique in its own dimension. Using the year of arrivalin Russia (for some, former USSR), I divided my respondents into two groups. The classification is, however, necessary in order to understand the situation and compare the two periods. There were 6 respondents whoarrived during the USSR and 15 who arrived after the disintegration of the USSR who participated in this research.

The arrivals during the period Soviet Union are those that are part of foreigners within the territory that witnessed the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the transition from theclosed economy (a country that is self-sufficient in her economic system and had no trading activities with other countries. During this period, citizens and foreigners are provided with everything they need within the shores of the country) to an open economy building a democratic state with a market economy. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and Russia inheriting the mantle from the Soviet State, Russia became a popular destination for foreigners mostly from countries that were formerly republics during the Soviet era. The migration report for 2017 reveals that Russia is the fourth country with the largest number of migrants in the world (United Nations, 2018).

Reason for Coming to Russia

The research reveals that there is an increase in the trend of migratory movement of Nigerians to Russia. However, there are different reasons why Nigerians living in Russia choose the country as their place destination. It is interesting to note that all those who arrived during the USSR came only to study which could be explained from the series ofbilateral agreement that existed between Nigeria and the USSR.

“I have been hearing about the communist state and I was very inquisitive to know how things operate in such a country. When the opportunity came to study abroad the first option that came to my mind was the USSR.”

(Raymond, aged 53 USSR group)

The above quotation from one of the respondents that arrived during the period of the Soviet era states the motive for the migration to the communist state was due to his inquisitive nature to experience the communist idea. This opinion was also shared by another respondent who arrived during the Soviet period. All the respondents in the interview that came during the Soviet Union all came for the purpose of education.

“…any student who came to study had a clearly defined number of years during which he or she lived and studied and after the completion of his or her studies, the Soviet government made provision for his travel back to his home country.”

(Enoch, aged 54 USSR group)

All the Nigerians who came to the Soviet Union to study have a defined number of years that they would spend within the territory of the Soviet states. This quotation was also corroborated by all the respondents that arrived during the Soviet period.

“I had no plans oftravelling out of Nigeria to study but my coming to the Soviet Union was just an opportunity that opened up. I had wanted to study Information and Communication Technology and when the opportunity came up to study in Russia, I had to grab it because as at then, the USSR was one of the leading countries thatoffers the course”

(Seyi, aged 52 USSR group)

However, the respondents that who arrived after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there were more than one reasons for their migration. Unlike the migrants who arrived during the Soviet era, three reasons were discovered for their migration to Russia. Seven (7) of respondent also came for anacademic purpose, six (6) for the purpose of having an improved economic life while two (2) of the respondents came in order to reunite with their spouses.

“I was already in the university when I got the federal government scholarship to study but because of the incessant closure of universities, I applied for the scholarship. There were three options opened to me which I had to select one. Among the countries listed were Hungary, Russia and one other country that I could not remember. Out of the countries, I selected Russia because I felt that it is the most developed of all the countries listed and not only that, a lot ofscientists whom I have read about are Russians which also influenced my decision”

(David, aged 34 Russian group)

The above quotation states the reasons why some of the respondents decided to choose Russia as their country of destination. This quote was also shared by another respondent.

“…as a student studying outside the country (Nigeria), you know when you begin your academic session and when you will graduate. With lecturers being on strike, I had to make a decision to leave the country because I was not getting any younger and only God knows how long the strike would last.”

(Ken, aged 33 Russian group)

From the two quotations shown above, the respondents explained their reason to choose to study abroad. The declining and deteriorating standard of the education system in Nigeria is a factor that necessitated their decision to migrate. The education system in Nigeria is faced with numerous problems ranging from poor teaching environments to the administration of the education system(Odia & Omofonmwan, 2007) which necessitate students to explore other alternatives to study overseas.

Another cue from the reasons from the two groups of arrival is that for the respondents that arrived during the USSR refutes the claims that the Soviet Union was not a destination country for migrants (Curtis, 1996). The USSR was not a place of destination because of the system that was operational in the country. The country was a regulated country where goods were produced internally and distributed among the populace. The set of migrants who come into the USSR are either students or government delegates who are on official assignments.Also, migrants who came to study new from the unset of their coming when they will exit the country to migrate back to their home country. As some of the respondents pointed out,

“… the breaking of the Iron Curtain allowed most of them to stay back because the new Russian government was not ready to take the responsibility of paying for their flight ticket back home and that accounted for the reason why some got married to Russians because that was the only way to get the Russian citizenshipthen.”

(Enoch, aged 54 USSR group)

The disintegration of the USSR opened up the country to become friendlier to foreigners. One of the respondents who also transited from the USSR to the Russian Federation remarked that

“I stayed back after my education because I saw opportunities to explore which previously do not exist, so I tapped into it.”

(Raymond, aged 53 USSR group)

Curtis (1996), state that stabilizing the macroeconomy and restructuring were the two fundamental goes that marked the transition  of the Russian economy from a centrally planned economy to a market-based which made the economy commercially controlled. Opening the Russian market to foreign investors would, therefore, allow the market to operate efficiently guided by commercial laws. A respondent who arrived after the break of the USSR said:

My desire has been to engage in international business, I have a passion for in that direction for years and for me to actualize my dream, I needed to take a step that was why I decided to take the step…. I choose to come to Russia because Russia  is a great country with great potentials and at the same time, it is one of the great countries in the world. I came in to explore their culture and their way of life also.

    (Chike,  aged 37 Russian group)

The quotation above states that the respondent’s desire to engage in international business was the major influence on his decision to migrate. He decided to choose Russia as his country of destination because of the potentials that abound in the country.

“I was a professional footballer in Nigeria before coming to Russia in search of a better football career on the promise of an agent which did not eventually work out then I decided to use what I have to get what I wantbecause I already had an HND, I began to go to schools to be hired as a teacher”

    (Buchi,  aged 39 Russian group)

The quotation above shows that the respondent was in search of a better opportunity in his football career but after been unable to achieve this, he decided to get employment as a teacher.

“My reason for coming to Russia is to join my husband…”

 (Mope and Raliat,  aged 32  and 44 Russian group)

The above quotation was made by two of the respondents who stated that their purpose of coming to Russia was to reunite with their husbands. This is another trend that started happening after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That the country became opened to foreigners also allowed some women to unite with their husbands living in Russia. A family reunification law allows migrant women whose husbands are in Russia. — Though, this is subject toapplication at the embassy and also the relationship thatexists between Russia and the country of origin of the migrants.

Academic Attainment and Skill Acquisition

Nigeria and the Russian Federation have a mutual agreement on education and this is a factor that accounts for the number of Nigerians who migrate for academic purpose in Russia. However, the process of amassing human capital starts with education and other skill acquisition (De Paola & Brunello, 2016) which is parts of the indicators thatensure the integration process of migrants into the market system and also the social spheres of the host country. It is imperative to consider the highest academic qualification of these two groups of migrants. The quotes below explain the height of educational attainment which also displays a sharp disparity between the USSR group and the Russian group. For the USSR group, four (4) of the respondents already had a doctoral certificate while two (2) indicated that they are yet to complete their doctoral degree. All of them had their education in the Russian language which could describe the duration they had spent communicating mostly in the Russian language.

“I started my education with theone-year language class called the Preparatory Faculty (подготовительный факультет) after which I proceeded to my bachelors where I was also thought about the Russian history and culture. On the completion of my bachelors, I continued to the master’s level because the scholarship that I got was to cover both the bachelors and masters programme. I also got a scholarship to proceed to the doctoral level which I also completed. I arrived during the Union of the Soviet Republic but I completed my education in the Russian Federation”

(Sekoni, aged 50, USSR group)

The above quotation applies to most of the respondents in the USSR group. For the respondents in the Russian group who came to Russia to study, they also went through the Russian language preparatory class but unlike the USSR group, most of them did not continue to complete their education through the doctoral level. Seven (7) of the respondents came to Russia to study out of which only one had completed the doctoral programme while out of the four (4) that already had their masters, two are in the process of completing their doctoral programme. Three (3) of the respondents in the Russia group only had the diploma. On the course of their study, they were thought the Russian history and culture which gave them a proper understanding of the new society they found themselves.

“I came to Russia to study and first to study the language programme to understand Russian. I already had my bachelors before leaving Nigeria but because of the language, I was talked over to do my bachelors again for four years before following it up with my masters”

(Ken, aged 33 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that the respondent already had a university degree before coming to Russia but in order to bridge the gap in the language differences, after the completion of the language class, he was advised to have another diploma in Russia in order to understand the language better because his programme was taught using the Russian language.

“I studied in Russia on the Federal Government of Nigeria scholarship in 2003 but after the completion of my masters I went back to Nigeria and came again in 2013 after athree-year break in Nigeria to reunite with my husband who was already working and also having hisPh.D. here.”

    (Mope,  aged 32 Russian group)

The above statement indicates that respondents left Nigeria to Russia to reunite with her husbandeven though she had earlier studiedup to the master’s level in Russia. On the completion of her studies, she had to leaveRussia but was only able to come back because of family reason. She had already studied to the master’s level before coming back to Russia.

“I finished from the University of Abuja in 2005 where I studied Computer Science with a second class upper and was able to gain employment in thehospitality industry where I served for about five years before I left the country to come to Russia for a greater business exposure.”

    (Chike,  aged 37 Russian group)

The above quotation indicates that the respondent came purposely because of a better economic condition. He already had his university education in Nigeria with a diploma and had also gotten a job where he worked but having an improved and better opportunities brought him to Russia.

“I had my Higher National Diploma in Nigeria andpostgraduate diploma and after arriving in Russia, I had my masters and currently undergoing myPh.D.

    (Buchi,  aged 39 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that the respondents already had a Higher National Diploma (HND) and also apostgraduate diploma which qualifies him to continue at the master’s level here in Russia.

“…I already had my Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Nigeria and after my education, I opened a shop where I make hair because,during my study years, I virtually sponsored myself to complete my OND during which I alsolearned how to make hair”

(Raliat, aged 44 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that the respondents already had her Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Nigeria before coming to Russia to reunite with her husband. She also had acquired a skill before departing the shores of Nigeria.

“…I finished my OND before coming to Russia andI choose to come to Russia because I believe that one can achieve anything one is set to achieve in life, it is all about the mindset. ...Ilearned how to make hair in Nigeria. When I was still in school, I do make hair for my friends and I saw it as a meansofkeeping myself busy and I decided to start making hair as abusiness

    (Tiwa,  aged 27 Russian group)

Language Barrier

One of the biggest challenges that immigrants experience when they find themselves in a new environment is the language of the people. Language is used in daily activities among people which make it a very important aspect of migrants’ social and economic integration. Just like education, there are also different ways through which proficiency in a foreign language could be attained; it could be by formal or informal means of acquisition. For immigrants to fully and actively participate in every aspect of the host country, getting involved in the cultural facet will hasten up their integration process. It is therefore very expedient to understand the language of the host country in order to be able torelate to them. For all the respondents that came initially to study, as mentioned earlier, they all studied the Russian language which makes it very easy for them to break the language barrier that could have deprived them of getting employment opportunities. However, for the respondents that arrived in Russia for either family reunification or economic purpose, they had to scheme a way to break the barrier of the language deficiency. According to some of the respondents,

“When I arrived Russia, my husband enrolled me into a language school where Ilearned the Russian language but I can’t say confidently that I could speak the language very well”

(Raliat, aged 44 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that the spouse of the woman who came to Russia to reunite with her family enrolled her in a language school to learn the Russian language. She also affirmed that though she studied the language, she cannot boldly say that she knows the language quite well but she can still communicate using the language. As indicated in an earlier quotation, the other woman who came to reunite with her family came initially to study and as a result, she could speak and understand the language, the culture and also some aspect of the Russian history.

“…on my first trip toRussia in 1984 to visit my cousin who served at the Nigerian embassy which makes it easy for me to visit her. I was able to make some friends when I came and when my sister completed the training, one of the friends I had made invited me to come. On my second trip to Russia in 1999, my girlfriend who was a Russian speaks the English language makes it easy for me toadapt because shedoes correct me whenever I make mistakes in my expressions, I also read some books to study the language. Basically, I can say that Ilearned the Russian language on the street.”

(Joseph, aged 57 Russian group)

From the quotation above, the respondentsindicate that he was able to make some friends the first time he visited the USSR who were parts of the people that made helped to increase his knowledge of the Russian language but the major tutelage was done by his girlfriend who also accommodated him when he arrived. In simple terms, he was able to learn the Russian language through self-study.his proficiency of the Russian language is however on the averagescale.

“Though learning the language wasn’t easy but I believe that anything you try with persistence, you will succeed; it is all about interest so I have to try as much as possible to actually equipmyself by learning about the language through YouTube and read more about theirculture and their beliefs so I was able to guide myself on how to relate to them.”

    (Chike,  aged 37 Russian group)

The above quotation is from another respondent who came to Russia for business opportunities. As indicated, the respondent also had to have aself-study of the language. The quote shows that the respondent was able to learn the language via YouTube. The language proficiency of the respondent according to him is average.

“Before Itravelled, I already had the mindset that if you will have to live with people of different language even if it were to within Nigeria, for a Yoruba to live with an Igbo, communication is the key thing. Before leaving Nigeria, the best way to really settle in islearning to communicate. Communication makes you get more friends and more familiar with the people. Forme, it was a priority to learn how to speak the Russian language, so I ask questions a lot.”

(Tiwa,  aged 27 Russian group)

The above quotation also shows the determination of a respondent who came to Russia purposely to get involved in the economic system. For the respondent, she thought herself the Russian language by asking for clarification of any new Russian word that she hears and could communicate with Russians and will get to understand each other. She understands the basics of the Russian language.

The quotations below by some of the respondents attest to the fact that knowledge of the language of the host country which in this case is Russia, is extremely important for integration.

“…knowing the language of the country you are living is a security. It makes you belong to the society”

(Justice, aged 51 USSR group)

“…with one language, you are one person, with two languages, you are two persons. The knowledge of the Russian language made me part of the people. Now, Russia is my second home.”

(Tonye, aged 54 USSR group)

The two quotations above are indications of the importance of knowing the language of the host community in order to have a sense of belonging to the community. For the respondents, having the knowledge of the language is a form of security which fosters one’s inclusiveness in the community.

Employment Challenge

The dominant theories in the study of migration currently consider the assumption that migration is chiefly because of economic motives (Kurekova, 2011) which have increasinglybeen a subject of criticism among scholars.  The economic institution is an integral part that ensures migrants’ integration in the host country. For these migrants, they were faced with different challenges in thelabour market which helped to shape their perspective of the society.

“…before coming to Russia, I havelearned to beself-dependant. While studying, I had been striving to sustain myself because I was not a scholarship student andhaving managed to complete my masters, I was retained by the company I started working for while studying then I felt that I would not be able to combine my study with work so I decided not to further my education..… I still work with the same company till now because for foreigners, mostly blacks it is not easy to get ajob in Russia.”

(Ken, aged 33 Russian group)

The respondent in the quotation above explained that he had to work in order to sustain himself and pay his tuition fees but had to stop his education after having his masters certificate to concentrate more on the work because he was only fortunate to get the job in the first place. Also, though he stated that he has thought of changing the job but it a risk he is not prepared to make because it is not likely that he would get another job within the nearest possible time.

“After completing my masters’ degree, I went back to Nigeria and came back to Russia to have myPh.D. On the completion of myPh.D., I stayed back in Russia because I had something I was doing then felt there was no need going back to Nigeria. To get job opportunities in Russia, you need education, sold documents and knowledge of the Russian language but in mostcases, they ask for citizenship. Having one job is not enough here in Russia. You see a lot of Nigerians having more than one jobs they do.”

(Tonye, aged 54 USSR group)

The above quotation expresses the opinion of the respondent to the criteria to get employment opportunities in Russia. He said there are two things that qualify one insecuring ajob in Russia. Education and having a valid document that confirms one as a legal migrant but in most cases, having a citizenship status gives a high possibility of employment.

“…challenges are quite high for instance; the luxury of being able to move from one job to the other is not there. If you want to change job, you will have to think twice before following through with the decision because the possibility of getting another is not very certain and may take a long period before finally getting one…”

(Seyi, aged 52 USSR group)

The quotation above reveals that as migrants, the likelihood of changing places of work is not guaranteed because there are no such possibilities of getting another. This quotation, however, confirms the opinions of most of the migrants as those who are employed by an organization attest that they havebeen working in their present place of employment for a long time. This indicates that there is no assurance of economic mobility for the migrants.

“I have noticed a trend in thelabour market. When I was a student, it was almost impossible for a student to get a job but now, students can work even though not officially”

    (Mope,  aged 32 Russian group)

For the respondent in the above quotation, there is a change in the possibility of being employed in Russia. Though the respondent came initially as a student migrant, her second coming was for family reunification. Going by her experience, there is an improvement in the employment chances of migrants (Nigerians) getting employment opportunities.

“…no room for employment for non-citizens because there are lots of foreigners in this country who are not doing anything. They are engaged in menial jobs and even the menial jobs, they are not exposed enough to get it. Employment here is not actually encouraging to foreigners. I was engaged in many of such jobs before I decided to start my own business.”

    (Chike,  aged 37 Russian group)

The above quotation shows that there are no chances of foreigners being employed in Russia. Most of the opportunities opened to the migrants are menial jobs which are not encouraging to the migrants. He recounted his own experience that he had many of such jobs in order to sustain himself before he had his own business.

“Because of the system that is in operation in Russia, there are job opportunities but the jobs are not for foreigners, they are for Russians. It is a little bit difficult for foreigners to secure a good job as far as the Russian Federation is aconcern. Most jobs foreigners do are the menial ones such as distributing fliers on the street.”

(Wigwe,  aged 48 Russian group)

The quote above indicates that there are job opportunities in Russia but the system allows the native citizens to be highly considered for employment which makes it difficult for foreigners to secure employment.

Transition and Adaption

For the student migrants, there is a need to have a change of status that will guarantee andlegalize their stay in the country.

“… in our own time, it wasn’t that difficult because we were thrown from one society to a new one but then, right now, if you are changing your status from a student to a worker, it’s not exactly what it used to be before because the statusis different.The present Russia has it that for you to swap from one status to the other, you have to go out of the country and come in again. Previously, it wasn’t that. Youcould justchange your status but now it is quite different. It is because the society changes and new laws are put in place.”

(Enoch, aged 54 USSR group)

The above quotation indicates that there are changes in the process of transiting and changing a student status to alabour status. For the respondents who were part of the transition from the Soviet Union era to the present Russian Federation, one could easily change one’s legal status during the country’s transition but the process is quite different from what it used to be before.

“The only way for a foreigner to stay in Russia if you are not an expert working is by marriage. Changing my status was not very easy. Even after marriage, it took about five years before I could change my status and get the permanent resident which is also renewable every five years.”

(Seyi, aged 52 USSR group)

The quotation above shows the process involved to for a student to change the status that would allow for a legal stay in Russia. For the respondent, he was able to change is status by marriage but confirmed that it was not an easy process. Marriage to a native is one way to become a citizen of the country which makes the migrant a legal occupant of the country.

“...there are only two ways to change one’s status which is either youhaving an investment here or getting married to the citizen of this country. Taking the second process, it will require you going out of Russia then your wife will send you an invitation that will bring you back into the country. Then you will now start gathering the necessary documents which also involves stringent procedures. Completing the procedure, you get the temporal stay which is for three years, then the permanent stay which is for five years and then the citizenship.”

    (Tonye, aged 54 USSR group)

The above quotation indicates that there are two ways known to the respondent through which a foreigner can change his residence status. To the respondent, having a property with which one can lay claim to and then apply to have a legal stay in the country. The other means is getting married to a Russian but would still require the foreigner to first go out of the country then the wife would invite him to come and afterward begin a paperwork that would confirm his status as a legal resident in the country. From the quotation, the respondent also claims that the paperwork is also very stringent and it is also likely that some might be denied the resident stay. When the whole process is finally completed, at first, such a person would be given a temporal stay that is for a period of three years and thereafter, gets a permanent stay which lasts for five years and lastly, gets the citizenship. The respondent, however, confirmed that he went through such process, so he understands how it works and he presently has the Russian citizenship.

“Transiting from having a student status to alabour status was quite smooth. Just like it is now, one would have to travel back to his home country then the organization where one works will send an invitation to the embassy. Initially, one would have to travel back to the country every year to renew the visa but it ispresently every three years.”

(Sekoni, aged 50, USSR group)

The quotation above indicates that a new trend of transition which most of the student migrants go through in order to change their status. This is the new policy for those who are not married to a Russia. They would have to travel back to their country then reapply to come back on the invitation of the organization they are working for or they intend to work for.

“What was needed to change my status then was that the company I was working for sent an invitation to enter the country. This, however, implies that I have to leave the country first then come back using the invitation sent by the company. It was actually very easy because even at the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, I was not subjected to much questioning and I didn’t even speak a single Russian word. I can say that my transition was very smooth though on arriving Russia, I had to do somepaperwork but it is not that it was difficult because they were necessary to be dome.”

(David, aged 34 Russian group)

As stated by the respondent who gave the above quotation, he had a smooth transition from having a student visa to a work visa though he had to leave Russia first and then come back on the invitation of the company. This is a similar trend to what some of the respondents had to observe to change their legal status in living and working in Russia.

“I can say that while studying, I was already in the process of transition because I already met my wife and I already had a child before I completed my studies. I can say that for a foreigner like me who is married to a Russian, changing my status requires me applying for a temporal citizenship first which is for a period of three years and then apply for the permanent citizenship which is renewable after five years”

(Ken, aged 33 Russian group)

The quotation above is similar to oneshared by an earlier respondent who is from the USSR group. This shows the uniformity of the process through which some of the respondents transiting from being a foreigner to applying for the Russian citizenship.

Housing Issue

Access to housing decent and affordable housing is more difficult to people living outside their country of origin and in most cases, landlords are often not willing to give their house to tenants of migrants’ origin for the fear of possible depreciation of the house (Council of Europe, 2007). Migrants also often face discrimination in getting accommodation in the host community (ILO, IOM, OHCHR, UNHCR, 2001). The settlement areas where the migrants live also play an integral role in their integration process (Demintseva, 2017).

“When I came as a student there was an integrated system whereby people of different countries are made to live together in a room such as Pakistani, Bangladesh, and Chinese. But where I live now, there are lots of Africans living there, mostly Nigerians but not that they live together in a street but on different streets. You could easily get to see persons of the black race.”

(David, aged 34 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that when he first arrived as a student, he was made to live among people of different nationals in order to foster interaction and integration among the students. He did not live among his countrymen but with citizens from other countries. After he got a job and needed to get an apartment where he will stay, the environment where he stays have a lot of Africans but mostly Nigerians. He, however, emphasized that it is not that they dominate the environment but that one can easily come across blacks.

“Accommodation is not so easy to get. It took me about two months before I got where I am living presently. The most annoying thing there is that the agents you call to get the accommodation is likely to turn you down because you are not a Russia. They will tell me:нет, только Славян (No, only Slavs). It’s really difficult to get an apartment”

(Ola, aged 25 Russian group)

The above quotation shows the discrimination that the respondent is exposed to in trying to get an accommodation. Getting accommodation is not easy and even when he finally gets one, he got turned down. In some cases when the agent knows that tenant is a Black, they would emphatically say that the apartment is only for Slav.

“…I don’t have any relationship with myneighbours. I have been living where I am presently for about five years and I don’t even know the name of my next doorneighbour. We just say hi…hi and go our different ways. Most times,neighbours don’t really want to associate with foreigners.”

(Wigwe,  aged 48 Russian group)

The respondent who gave the quote, however, said that he does not have anyclose relationship with hisneighbours. He does not even know who his nextneighbour is. He concluded that Russians don’t really want to relate to a foreigner.

“Accommodation is one of the issues one would worry about when it comes to living in Russia. One reason for that is that you are never sure that you will live in an apartment for a very long time because tomorrow, the landlord could come and say sorry, I need to renovate or use this place, you have to look for somewhere else and if you don’t have any money in your saving, it might be very difficult for you and that is why we see people hanging around trying to find a place live. Many have lost their homes just like that.”

    (Buchi,  aged 39 Russian group)

The quotation above reveals that there is a likelihood that a tenant could be made to vacate an apartment without prior notice which in a situation where the tenant does not have enough money to get another one, couldmake such a person not having a place of abode.

Migrants’ Social Connections

It is a common trend among migrants to always build new ties whenever they find themselves in a new environment (Louise & Alessio, 2018). Using the three dimensions of social connections as explained by Ager and Strang (2008) which are the bonding social ties, social bridge and social links to explain the network that the migrants build and how this has influenced their integration process.

“The Nigerian community cannot help one in getting job or accommodation. The major thing in which the Nigerian community does is givingadvice on how to go about beinglaw-abiding citizens, visiting people who are in the prison, helping the embassy by ensuring that Nigerians are able to regularise their stay here in Russia”

(Seyi, aged 52 USSR group)

As indicated in the quotation above, the respondent emphatically said that the Nigerian Community Russia (NCR) which is an organizationrecognized to be a representative of the totality of Nigerian living in Russia, is chiefly, an advisory body. It helps to educate Nigerians living in Russia to be law abiding and be a good representative of their country. It alsoperforms welfare roles in seeing to the plights of Nigerians in unpleasant situations and lastly the NCR also assist the Nigerian Embassy in Russia to ensure that Nigerians have a legal status to live in Russia.

“the Nigerian Community, Russia tries to  integrate Nigerians living in Russia together such as sport, conference, international discussion etc.”

(Ezekiel, aged 38 Russian group)

The quotation above is from the president of the NCR saying that the NCR helps to integrate Nigerians through sport and academic discuss such as conferences and international forum. He also confirmed that in most case that the NCR mainly performsadvisory role and do not recommend Nigerians for job positions. The NCR can only refer or give suggestions on some job openings.

“The NCR has been doing little or nothing in helping Nigerians living in Russia. The desire is there to help but the possibility is either not there or very minimal.”

(Enoch, aged 54 USSR group)

The quotation above indicates that the NCR has not been very effective in the discharge of its responsibilities to the Nigerians living in Russia. Though the respondent also admitted that the NCR is willing to perform its duty effectively but the platform to discharge such responsibility to the fullness is limited.

“The Ohaneze Ndigbo has a more unified structure which helps to bring Nigerians and mostly the Igbo tribe.”

(Joseph, aged 57 Russian group)

The quotation above reveals that there is also the existence of an ethnic organization representing a particular section of Nigeria. According to the respondent, the Ohaneze Ndigbo which is an ethnic group organization is better unified than the NCR.

Workplace and Neighbourhood Relationship

There are similarities in the response of the respondents regarding their relationship with Russians at their place of employment and also where they live. The quotations below show some of the selected quotes during the field work. Majority of the respondents stated that they enjoy a stable relationship with their Russian colleagues at their different places of employment. The quotations below explain some of the experiences they had with Russians.

“My experience was very peculiar because we ended up not the way I would have wanted because I was duped by the same Russians whom I trusted and brought in to run the business along with and again, maybe they felt that I am a foreigner and the country is theirs. There were alot of things that they did to me because they felt it was their country. When I tried to question one of them, he said that you came to my country and you still want to ask for your right.”

(Enoch, aged 54 USSR group)

The abovequotation states that the respondent had an unpleasant experience with the Russian he worked with initially. He stated that the disintegration of the Soviet Union made the economy open for economic activities and he was able to understand the situation by engaging in the importation of goods into the Russian Federation. He felt that both the Russians and foreigners need each other because foreigners needed Russians to process and guarantee their confirmation of performing economic activities while Russians needed the Russians for their experience. For the Russians that he partnered to start a business, he did not have apleasant experience working with them because they cheated him. He, however, stated that he haslearned from such experience and believes that it won’t happen to him. He still partners with Russians and good working relationship with his Russian colleagues.

“Russians are a kind of people who are race conscious. At first, when you meet the people if you don’t speak their language, they will look as if they are not friendly but if you are able to communicate with them, you will know that they are wonderful people.”

“Neighbourhood setting here is not like how we have it in Nigeria. The only thing is that when we see each other, we only say hello…hello and that is all. No communication at all.”

(Seyi, aged 52 USSR group)

For the respondent who gave the two quotations above, he expressed that knowing and understanding the Russians would reveal who they really are. To him, the Russians are race conscious in that they relate moreto their own people and they fight for their own interest first before considering others. Also, getting to understand their language and could communicate with them, then as a foreigner, you will know how good they are. He also emphasized that he has also been in contact with those who are unfriendly to foreigners. But in the place of residence, he does not have any cordial relationship with hisneighbours.

“…in the midst of any nation, there are good heads and bad heads. I have been lucky dealing with Russians but maybe in one way, it can be said that it has to do with your relationship with the people. Though along the way, I also got entangled with people that are of square charactersbut that does not eliminate the good ones that I have met”

(Tonye, aged 54 USSR group)

The above quotation indicates that for the respondent, the same rule applies to every country because you find the good and the bad. He, however, stated that he has been lucky dealing with Russians at the workplace and also where he lives though has also come in contact with Russians who have had a negative influence on him but that did not erode the fact that he had also met the good ones.

“They are very accommodating and the working relationship with them is very cordial.”

     (Wigwe, aged 48 Russian group)

The quotation above shows that the relationship the respondent has with Russians at theplace of residence and also theworkplace. To him, as earlier identified, his relationships with Russians are not the same because he has a good working relationship with his Russian colleagues at the place but it differs from the kind of relationshiphe has with is Russianneighbours in the house where he lives which is not complimentary.

“They are unique in their own way. A lot of people feel that they are very aggressive or rude; once you get to understand them, you’ll get torealize that they are just being original compared to the West where everybody puts on smiling faces everywhere. The belief here is that you should be sincere even with your emotions. Once they get to know you, it won’t takethem time to start exchanging kind gestures. In simple word, they are good people.”

     (Micah, aged 27 Russian group)

The quotation above indicates that for the respondent, the Russiansare always very practical with their emotions. According to the respondent, Russians don’t mince words when it comes to expressing how they feel.

“…all of them are not the same. The accommodating ones are the people who are well exposed in the sense that they havetravelled to different countries. When you get to meet some Russians like that, they understand you and would try to speak with you and can also do business with you. Those who do not have such advantage or don’t liketravelling; I tell you that for those ones, you get the other side of them. They discriminate and their look shows they are racist. You come to them to ask some questions (directions) but the way they look at you is discriminatory and they won’t even answer you. Sometimes, you living in Russia couldfavour you and sometimes, you get the other side of it”

(Ken, aged 33 Russian group)

The above quotation indicates that for the respondent, his perspective about the Russians is that they are of two different groups. For the first group which he said are the ones who havetravelled outside the shores the Russian Federation have a better understanding of how to relate to people of adifferent race but for those who have not had such experience, they tend to discriminate against people of differentcolour.

Chapter Four: Discussion

This study has examined the experience oflabour migrants from Nigeria and how socio-economically integrated they are in while looking for an improved life in Russia. As mentioned earlier, the respondents are divided into two different groups, the result of the study isanalysed based on the experiences of the respondents in each of the groups using the framework proposed by Ager and Strang to explain the pattern of socio-economic integration as described in fig. 4 of Nigerianlabour migrants in Russia. Inanalysing the result of the research, indicators such as education, knowledge of the Russian language, employment, accommodation and social network of the respondents are reviewed to answer the research questions.

Education as a means of integration

As Ager and Strange noted, education of themigrants is a tool that allows them to become active members of their host country (Ager & Strang, 2008).  As stated earlier, all the respondents in the USSR group came for the purpose of education while the respondents in the Russian group had three reasons for coming (education, employment,and family reunification). Of all the six respondents who arrived during the Soviet Union and had all their levels of education here, the least had the masters’ degree. Four of the respondents already had aPh.D. while two have the masters’ certificate. For the Russian group, two out of the respondents who came for the purpose of educationhas at least the first degree with six persons already having a masters’ certificate while five already had theirPh.D. One of the respondents who came to reunite with her husband had her education in Russia while the other woman had hers in Nigeria and those who came for work purpose had their education in Nigeria having achieved a higher education in Nigeria.

The respondents who came initially to study in both groups are well integrated than those who came achieve theirs in Nigeria. They have a better understanding of the history and culture of their host country. As the study reveals, aside from being thought to understand the new community they are, they were made to live together with students from countries different to theirs which is a means of making them understand the need to acknowledge the relevance of accommodating people of different culture. Such practice helps to give the students a wider understanding of the cultures and learning to make new friends. The perception of the host country determines the process of integration. Competency in the language of the host society is a factor that influences the opinions of migrants about the host society which thereby ease the process of integration as most of the respondents all have a unique perception of the Russians.

Language Proficiency

Language is an important factor of integration.Language is an act of communication and interactions among different people who understand one another. In order to relate to another person, the language of communication must be understood by the other person. Competence of the native language of the host community is, therefore, a very important factor that determines migrants’ integration. Language competence is, however, a two-way process of understanding integration both for the host community and migrants (Ager & Strang, 2008). Language is an interaction between individuals whounderstand each other, for the migrants to relate to the host society, they must understand themselves and vice versa. In order to stimulate the integration process of migrants in their new environment, they learn the language of the natives (Diaz, 1993). The means of acquiring the knowledge of the Russian language among all the respondents differ.

For the respondents who arrived for the initial purpose of education but stayed back in Russia after the completion of their education, they were all taught the Russian language in their first year of arrival before they began to study for their intended programmes. 13 of the respondents who came for the purpose of study all studied their various programmes in the Russian language which made it imperative for them to through theone-year intensive language programme called “Подготовительный Факультет” during which they were taught the history and culture of their new environment. For these migrants, they have a better understanding of the people and how to relate to them both within and outside the university walls. Like one of the respondents stated, “At first, when you meet the people if you don’t speak their language, they will look as if they are not friendly but if you are able to communicate with them, you will know that they are wonderful people.”All the respondents who came for the purpose of education all have a very good proficiencyin the Russian language both in communication and writing. They have also managed to build networks of friends who are Russians which is also an indication of their good knowledge of the Russian language.

The respondents (two) who came for the purpose of reuniting with the family, as indicated earlier, one of them studied here in Russia before leaving the country after the completion of her education but came back after some years to reunite with her husband. She went through the language class and also studied in the Russian language which makes her competency of the language quite high. But for the other, her husband who was already living in Russia had to enrol her in a language centre for her to learn the language but she claimed that she could not finish the programme because it was quite expensive and also that she needed to support her husband in providing for the familyalthough she was able to get the basics of the language. She improved on the ones she was taught and after living in Russia for about 15 years, she could communicate with the natives conveniently but stated that her knowledge of the language is average. On the other hand, the respondents who came for the purpose of work were not taught the language but had to engage themselves in self-study and as one of the respondents identified it as learning on the street. Some of them also had to engage in learning the language via YouTube and then try topractice what they havelearned. However, compared to the other two set of migrants, their proficiencyin the language is below average.

In order to actively participate in thelabour market, the knowledge of the language is equally very important. Being able to communicate in the language that the employers understand would create a mutual understanding between the employer and employee. All the respondents both in the USSR and Russia group who came initially to study however claimed that despite having they havebeen denied opportunities to work in some organizations despite having the required qualification and also being able to speak the language. Some decided to eke out alternatives of survival for themselves by starting their own businesses. Also in mostcases, as stated by the respondents, they hold on to any job opportunity they get and won’t let go of it because by allowing such to happen, the possibility of getting another job is very low. Only one out of the six respondents who arrived Russia for the purpose of working is employed by an organisation in Russia and he emphasized that the Russian language played no role in his employment because he is employed by an American School to teach the English Language to the kids and therefore, the English Language is the means of communication in the organisation. For the other five respondents, after seeking employment in different organizations and none was forthcoming, they decided to engage in some menial jobs first before starting their own business. Some of them shared fliers or sell mobile SIM cards on the streets while some helped in offloading goods from trucks and arranged in the warehouse of supermarkets. Another low skill work they did was to serve as cleaners in organizations. During this period, all of the respondents who came in search of job opportunities had about two to three jobs that they do concurrently. This is so because the money they get doing one is not enough to cater for all their expenses. As one of the respondents recounted that “It wasn’t easy at all trying to survive initially here but I thank God for where I am today.”

Some of the respondents who areself-employed also recounted that their competence of the Russian language hasinfluenced their business positively. One of the respondents who came to Russia in order to reunite with her husband indicated that her knowledge of the language allows her to communicate with both Russians and Nigerians alike. For most of the respondents, being unable to secure employment made them use their skills to get what they want.

Migrant Network

The composition of themigrant network is quite different among migrants (Poros, 2011). The choice of the USSR or Russia as the country of destination varies across the different motives (education, family reunion,and work) for migrating. The research reveals that only those who migrate for the purpose of reuniting with their family and those who want to engage in the economic sphere have a person who is already living in the country. The African community is however comprised of a small number of migrants compared to other continents whichmake their impact of little or nosignificance. The Nigerian community like some of the respondents stated mainly serve as “an advisory body” in which case, they giverecommendations about job openings and how to be law abiding. For the respondents who came to study, their decisions were influenced by their network from their home country. Most of which was either relatives or a former student who studied in Russia (USSR).

The respondents who came to study have anetwork of Russian colleagues with whom they studied and graduated together. It was however easy for them to make friends with their host community. Diaz(1993) refers to social integration as the process of integration that allows the immigrants to build up anew relationship with the mainstream group but not with the marginal group in the host society. Studying in the host country increases the chances of building arelationship with the natives. Like one of the respondents said, the break of the Soviet Union allowed him to start a business but need the help of his Russian friends to be able to execute this business plan. This is however in contrast to the other set of Nigerian migrants who came either for family reunification or the ones who arrived in order to achieve a better economic feat. To some of them, they do not have Russian friends with whom they relate to often aside from those that visit their shops.

The Economy

In the new society where migrants are, vocational skills and education are important aspects of integration which are vital yardsticks of measuring their employability in thelabour market (Ager & Strang, 2008). The findings show that the respondents experienced challenges in employment opportunities in thelabour market in Russia. The jobs easily available for “Black Migrants” are menial jobs which cannot cater for the economic demands in the country. For some of the respondents, getting a place as a Black where you could have your own business is equally very difficult. One of the respondents said that she attempted getting a shop topractice her vocational skill but thepaperwork very tedious and the sum was much so she had to resolve to attend to her clients in the apartment where she lives. As stated earlier, only one of the respondents who had his education in Nigeria is employed by an organization here in Russia while others areself-employed.

Proficiency in the Russian language and education are very important in getting employment. Also for those who areself-employed, knowledge of the Russian language allows them to relate to their clients and also to communicate with sellerswhere they buy some products they use for their business. For most of the respondents who are employed, the Russian language is the means of communication in their various organizations except for those who are employed as English tutors which varies according to the establishment of the schools but in most cases, the knowledge of the Russian language is needed as English tutor in order to communicate with the students. Except for those (two) who studied Law at the university; only one of the other 18 respondents is employed by an organization where he performs the responsibilities replica to what he studied at the university. Eleven of the respondents are employed as tutors while the other seven are either business ownersorself-employed.

However, all the respondents who are employed have been in the organization where they work since changing their status from having a student visa to a work visa. This is a common trend between the two groups under study which they all attribute to the uncertainty of getting another soonest. This is particularly of concern to those who do not have the Russian citizenship. Most of them have considered leaving their job but have overtime been restricted by the prospect of getting another job. Diaz (1993) said that structural integration of migrantsin the process of participating in the occupational spheres of their host country which is supported by economic and educational opportunities. However, for the respondents, their employment opportunities are limited mainly because of their skincolour. The knowledge of the Russian language, experience and education do not count when it comes to seeking employment that is why most of them hold on to a job if they eventually get one. Like one of the respondents recounted one of the instances which he experienced himself“Even if you are better qualifiedthan the other person, you would not be considered”. Another challenge which the research reveals pertaining to the respondents who already had their education in their country of origin is that despite having higher education, been unable to speak the Russian language is the barrier that they encountered in seeking employment opportunities in Russia. The respondents who came in search of employment opportunities find it difficult to integrate into thelabour market in Russia compared to those who had their education inthe Russia Federation.

The Environment

This section discusses the social relations the migrants have with their host community at bothworkplace and settlement areas. The relationship that the respondents have with their Russian colleagues andneighbours and how they responded to such relationship. Firstly, issues about accommodation (housing) affect the psychological and emotional wellbeing of migrants (Ager & Strang, 2008). In some cases, the respondents claimed that there have been instances where they would rather not apply for accommodation because the type of tenant that the agent wants was already stated (i.e, only Slavs) but generally speaking, the inscription applies to all kinds of foreigners that are not from the countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States; butfor most of the respondents, they presume that house owners are not always willing to lease their house to them. Another challenge that wasstated by one of the respondents is that the owner of the house could come one day and say that he needed to make some changes in the apartment which in a case where the migrantis not financially buoyant could make him/her start looking for a place to live.

Relationship withneighbours as stated by one of the respondents cannot be compared to theneighbourhood settings in Nigeria whereneighbours know and relate to one another. However, most of the respondents have an indifferent relationship with their Russianneighbours. All the respondents live in a settlement area that is dominated by Russians and for all of them, they communicate with other Nigerians in churches, special occasions (parties, meetings etc), place of work and at the Nigerian embassy.

Despite having an indifferent relationship towards each other, for those who have Russian colleagues at their places of work claimed that they have a good relationship with them. However, some of the respondents also indicated that they have faced psychological discrimination from their Russian colleagues at their place of work. As stated by one of them,“It is not in all cases that discrimination is verbal or confrontational, at times, it is psychological. For instance, in the company where I work, there is a culture of celebratingbirthday among the workers and you will find out that when every arrangement to celebrate a birthday celebrant you are not being involved”. It should also be stated that all of the respondents mentioned that though they have had contact with both the good and the bad.

Overall, the result of the research reveals three aspects in which the integration process of the Nigerianlabour migrants is measured (education, economy,and environment). Of these three measures, education as an institution of integration is well established compared to theeconomy and environment institutions. Those who had their higher education in Russia have a better opportunity than those who already had the higher education from their home country. However, as the result shows, having a higher education and competency of the Russian language are not sufficient enough to integrate into the Russian system. There is a need not only torecognise the presence of other races andcolours but also to accept them.

Fig. 5: Arrival and departure of Nigeria in Russia (hundred)


The inability to integrateinto a new environment could lead to a psychological shock and also the eventual departure from the country (Ratha, Mohapatra, & Scheja, 2011). The picture above indicates that as many Nigerians arearriving in Russia, many are also leaving. The year 2017, however, shows a reduction that the number of those departing the countryis more than the number of those entering into it. The picture shows that there is a consistent growth in the number of Nigerians that are leaving Russia. The reason for this is not far-fetch which is simply because they find it difficult to integrate into the social and economic system in Russia. Comparing Russia to Sweden, the number of Nigeriansarriving in Sweden is always on the increase while those leaving the country are inconsequential to thosearriving in the country (Statistics Sweden, 2018). Twelve of the respondents, most of who arrived after the disintegration of the USSR, have indicated their desire to migrate either to Nigeria or another country while those who are married to a Russian woman among the respondents in the USSR wish they could migrate back to Nigeria but are being held back because they would have to consider their families before making such decision.

Policy Recommendation

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited the position formerly occupied by the Soviet Union in global politics and had since opened up the country to investors. So also, there is an increase in the number of migrants entering the country. According to the 2017 migration report by the United Nations, Russia is the fourth largest popular country of destination for migrants behind the United State, Saudi Arabia and Germany (United Nations, 2018). There is, therefore, a need to put in place policies on integration that would accelerate the process of having migrants operate within the society and also ensure that these policies are implemented. For investors who could neither speak nor understand the Russian language, having acentre where foreigners could study the language would open up the Russian economy to more migrants who do not speak the Russian language. There should also be an increased advertisement of thecentre which would allow migrants to know that there is a place where they could learn and study the Russian language. When migrants know about thecentre, they would be encouraged to participate in the training.

I would also recommend a review of the policy that would enable students who are able to secure a job before the expiration of their current visa change their legal status smoothly without having to leave the country. This could, however, encourage employers oflabour to consider employing them on along-term contract. Graduate students should also be encouraged to stay in the country (Russia) by formulating policies that would allow them to live in the country for a period of time to search for job opportunities in thelabour market. This would, however, encourage them to stay back and contribute to the economic development of the country. Most the respondents who came into the country initially to studyemphasised a particular statement that they were been lucky to have been able to secure a job that most of their colleagues had to leave the country immediately after the completion of their programme. Creating such a policy would encourage and increase the participation of skilled workers in thelabour market which would also make the Russian economy to be competitive in the global market.

Lastly, I recommend that there should be a campaign by the state to sensitize the people of the reality of the fact that since the opening up of the country, the country has also been opened up to people of differentcolours and origin; so diversificationexists in the country. The local people should learn how to live and accommodate people of other races. Advertisement companies could also include people of different races in the programmes which could help change the perceptions of the host community about other people and also change the negative perceptions that other countries have against Russia.

Limitations and Further Research

I must also point out some limitations of this study. For example, the sample size of the respondents is quite small and this does not help to give a wider view of the study. Despite having respondents who are all documented residents in Russia, it is my opinion that trying to investigate the section of migrants who are trapped in the undocumented caucus could also give a different light to the study. I also believe that gathering information from Russians who have Nigerians in theirneighbourhood and those who are employers and leaders of organizations would help to give the topic a strong point.

I hope that this study provides the basis for a further discussion and research in the aspect of socio-economic integration as one of the factors thatinfluence migration oflabour migrants as the knowledge gainedfrom this research can be a good starting point in formulating policies that could help to mitigate the plights of migrants in Russia. Finally, I would recommend that for future study of this topic, accessibility to social benefits and also welfare packages could be studied to better understand the role played by the policy of migrants’ inclusion in shaping the decision of the migrants.


The research is focused on the personal experiences of the respondents about the social and economic facets in Russia. Nigeria has a very small number of migrants that are living in Russia and in trying to study how integrated they are in the social and economic spheres in Russia, I applied the conceptual framework that is designed by Ager and Strang in understanding the socio-economic integration of labour migrants from Nigeria using indicators such as language, education, housing, social networks as measures thatdetermine their employability and also relationship with the host community which also influences their decision to migrate. At first, the study seeks to find out why they decided to choose Russia as their country of destination and then tries to find out to what extent they have been able to integrate into the Russian social and economic life which could influence their decision to leave or stay in the country. The result of the study shows that despite having the knowledge of the Russian language, there are no opportunities for job mobility in thelabour market for the Nigerianlabour migrants who are employed by organizations in Russia. For the respondents, they could not just change their place of employment for a better one because such opportunity is uncommon. This is why for most of them, they hold tight to the job they have and wouldendeavour not tolet it slip away.

Knowledge of the Russian language is very important in securing employment but for some of the respondents, the language did not play any significant role because they are employed as the English language teachers which do notnecessarily require the knowledge of the Russian language. For most of the respondents, the Russian language helps to influence their employment opportunities and for those who are business owners, the language plays a vital role in the running of their businesses. Going by the findings of this research, the only job opportunity that the knowledge of the Russian language does not play a significant role is being a teacher ofthe English language. This is also an indicator to the fact that for the graduates and some who already had a Ph.D. in their respective field ofspecialty, the inability to secure employment where they could practice what they have learned in thelabour market pushes them to seek for analternative. Another side to this isthat the respondents are having difficulties in getting a job in their specialty as a result of discrimination.

The study also reveals that the respondents who came initially to study have ahigher possibility of being employed than those who arrivedin Russia to seek employment opportunities. Though the migrants who came for economic reasons have a higher education, they have fewer chances to get employment because of the dearth of the competency of the Russian language. The role played by social bond and links is limited mostly to anadvisory role. The Nigerian Community Russia (NCR) is the body that sees to the plights of Nigerians living in Russia and presently as most of the respondents discussed which was also confirmed by the leader of the organization, the core duty of the organization is mostly advisory. Most of the respondents, however, wished that they were in another country such as UK, Canada, Ireland, and theUSA because they are of the opinion that there are better chances that would be opened for them in those countries.

Russia is economically more developed than Nigeria and saying that labour migrants move mainly for economic reasons may not be altogether true without considering a factor that could influence such a decision which is integration in both the social and economic aspect of the country of intended destination. The level of integration enjoyed by labour migrants in the social and economic spheres of their new environment help to shape their perception of the country and influences their decision on migration.


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  1. FIRST IS NAME OF ORGANIZATION AFFILIATION:I am a Master student of the Higher School of Economics, studying Population and Development. This research is done in fulfilment of an academic work.
  2. FOLLOWED BY INFORMED CONSENT WHICH SUMMARIZES THE RESEARCH INTENTION:I would like to seek your consent to record our conversation and also to use it for an academic purpose which could also be considered in formulating policies regarding migrants. Do you agree that I use the information provided for academic work?
  3. Then Respondents confirmation of willingness (optional - once they give a go-ahead)


What is your name? (optional)

  1. Which part of Nigeria are you from?
  2. How old are you? (optional)
  3. Are you married (to a Russian)?
  4. Can you briefly explain your academic background?
  5. What is your academic discipline?
      1. When did you leave Nigeria?
      2. How old were you when you left Nigeria?
      3. What is/are the motivating factors that influenced your decision to leave Nigeria?
      4. What are those countries you have in mind to travel to before leaving Nigeria?
          1. Why did they choose Russia as a destination? (What are the things that you think your country can’t give you but you can get here?)
          2. Do you have anyone in Russia who told you to come here?
              1. How long have you been in Moscow?
              2. When you first got to Russia, how did you feel?
              3. How have you been able to cope with the climate, culture?
              4. Nigerians believe in interdependency and collective responsibility, how have you been able to adapt into this new culture?
              5. How did you learn the Russian language?
              6. How would you rate your knowledge of the Russian language?
              7. What prompted your reason to stay in Russia?
              8. How would you compare living in Nigeria and Moscow in terms of job opportunities?
              9. How would you describe transiting from being a student to a labour migrant?
              10. What job are you doing presently?
              11. How long did it take you to get your first job?
              12. Tell me about the challenges you encountered looking for job?
              13. How long have you been on the job?
              14. How many job have you had before your present job?
              15. What kind of discrimination have you felt in your job search?
              16. How would you explain the relationship you have with Russians in your place or work?
              17. What language do you use for communication in your place of work? (for those who have worked in more than one place, What is the language of communication in all the places you have worked?)
              18. Compared to your colleagues at work with whom you have equal or higher academic qualification to, how would you compare your salary to theirs?
              19. What opportunities are in the labour market especially for Nigerians to tap from?
              20. What reasons have you had to quit or change your job?
              21. What is the role of your knowledge of the Russian language in getting a job?
              22. With the amount you earn, how would you compare the cost of living?
              23. How much do you earn?  Is your salary below or above the 50,000 rouble range?
              24. Tell me about accommodation in Russia.
              25. How would you describe your relationship with your Russian neighbours?
              26. In what kind of settlement have you lived (or living)?
              27. How often do you get to relate to other Nigerians?
              28. Do you have Russian friends?
              29. Where do you get to meet?
              30. What general challenge do you and other migrants from Nigeria are facing here in Moscow?
              31. What is the role of the Nigerian Community in helping you (in getting a job and accommodation)?
              32. What is your view about the labour market for migrants especially Blacks/Nigerians?
              33. What is your view about Russia and Russians?
              34. What regret do you have living in Moscow?
              35. Having lived in Russia, would you have wished you were in a different country?
              36. How would you justify your purpose of coming to Russia; what have you been able to achieve?
              37. On the scale of 1-5, how would you weigh your achievement with your purpose of coming?
                  1. How long do you intend to stay in Russia if the situation allows?
                  2. If you have the opportunity to leave Russia, what will be your position?
                  3. If you are to leave Russia, where would you rather go?
                  4. Why would you consider going there?
                  5. Is there anything else you’d like to share which I haven’t asked about?

Appreciation: I want to say thank you for sparing time with me to go through series of questions that bother on migrants and your personal experience in Moscow.


Number of respondents: 21

USSR Group





A male respondent aged 54; he is from the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. He had all is higher school education in Russia and currently has a PhD in Engineering. He is married to a Nigerian and has businesses which he runs.



A male respondent aged 53 from the South-South region of Nigeria. He is married to a Russia and has a master certificate in Business Economics and Management. He is a business consultant and also operates his own business.



A male respondent aged 52 from the South-West of Nigeria. Formerly married to a Russian but divorced. He has a master certificate in Information and Communication Technology. He is employed by a language institute as a teacher.



A male respondent. He is 54 years old, married to a Russian. He is from the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. He is a PhD holder in Law. He is a law consultant.



A male respondent who came initially to study. He is 50 years old and married to a Nigeria. He hails from the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria. He had his higher education in Russia and currently holds a PhD in Economics. He is employed by an international organization in Russia.



A male respondent aged 51. He is from the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. He is married to a Russia and has been living in Russia for over 30 years. He has all his higher education in Russia and currently holds a PhD in Law. He also a chamber where he works in legal cases.

Russian Group





A male respondent from the South-East of Nigeria aged 48. He came to Russia initially to study. He has a degree in International Law. He has been living in Russia for about 20 years. He is currently employed as a protocol officer.



A female respondent who came for the purpose of getting employment opportunity in Russia. She is 29 years old from the South-South geopolitical zone in Nigeria. She has her education in Nigeria. She is self-employed.



A male respondent from the South-South of Nigeria. He is 57 years old and has his technical education before in Nigeria before coming to Russia. He is separated from his Russian wife. He is gainfully employed.



A male respondent aged 34 from the South West of Nigeria. His initial reason for coming to Russia was for academics. He had all his higher education in Russia and presently has a PhD in Petro-Chemical Engineering. He is married to a Nigerian and currently employed as a language tutor.



A male respondent who came to Russia for academic reasons. He is aged 33 and married to a Russia. He has a master certificate in Management of Large and Small Scale Businesses.



A female respondent whose purpose of coming was to reunite with her family. She is a 44 year old woman from the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria. She equally has her higher education in Nigeria, having an Ordinary National Diploma in Secretariat Administration.



A male respondent who is 37 years old is from the South East region of Nigeria. He came to Russia with the purpose of having a better economic life style. He is married to a Nigerian. He has his first degree (Computer Science) in Nigeria before coming to Russia. He has his own business.



A male respondent from the South East geopolitical zone in Nigeria. He is 39 years old whose sole aim was to get employment. He had his first degree in Nigeria before coming to Russia but had furthered to the master’s level in Russia. He is currently employed by a school where he teaches the English language.



A male respondent who came initially to study. He is 25 years old who has a degree in Engineering. He currently has a business of his own. He is not married.



A male respondent from the South West region of Nigeria aged 27. His initial reason for coming to Russia was to study where he studied to the master’s level. He is married to a Russia and currently works as a teacher of the English language.



A female respondent whose reason for coming to Russia was to reunite with her husband. She is 32 years old and has a master’s certificate. She is from the South West region of Nigeria.



A male respondent aged 29 years old. He is not married. He is from the South East region of Nigeria. His initial purpose of coming to Russia was to study.



A male respondent from the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria. He is 38 years old and married to a Russian. He came to Russia for the purpose of education and has a master degree already.



A male respondent from Nigeria. He is from the South West area of the country and aged 28. He came to Russia to get employment and currently work as unskilled labour. He had his higher education in Nigeria.



A female respondent from the South South region of Nigeria. She is 27 years old. She had her Ordinary National Diploma in Nigeria before migrating to Russia to seek for an improved economic status.

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