This study explores policies EU Member States use to navigate situations where third-country nationals face long-term legal uncertainty, such as cases where a migrant no longer or has never fulfilled conditions to stay, are denied a residence permit, or whose return decision cannot be enforced. Often decided at the national level, policies are sometimes contradictory in trying to strike a balance between fulfilling national migration policy objectives of preventing illegal stays while providing access to basic services and rights. The study also assesses the impact COVID-19 has had on such policies and decisions in reaction to border closures and the simultaneous urgency to ensure universal access to medical care.


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