Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies

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B1 The Production of (Im-)Mobility: The Visa as Border Infrastructure

Prof. Dr. Thomas Groß

Thomas Groß, Foto: Simone Reukauf

Osnabrück University

Project B1 analyses the functioning of the visa against the background of German law. The visa has been a central element of the border infrastructure for more than a hundred years. It is thus involved in the production of (im)mobility in the form of preventive control of the entry and residence of foreign nationals. The visa represents a mobility filter in which the examination of a residence permit already takes place in embassies and consulates in the region of origin of potential travellers and migrants. In this way, against the background of the meanings that are socially attributed to spatial mobility in complex negotiation processes, it is possible to control and sort migration before the actual cross-border movement.

The project analyses the legal development in Germany from a legal-historical and a legal-sociological perspective. In this way, the selection criteria behind the legal regulations and their scope of application are to be worked out. The legal-historical study covers the period from 1867 to 1990, during which the visa requirement was initially abolished and then reintroduced at the beginning of the First World War. In the Weimar Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, the character of the visa gradually changed from an entry permit to a comprehensive control of residence, which has not yet been systematically researched. The legal-sociological study will focus on the effects of the legal regulations since the Aliens Act 1990, which are characterised by a gradual opening up to labour migration. The respective political intentions will be compared with the statistically verifiable results of administrative implementation. In addition, the scope for negotiation in the application of the legislation will be analysed. In the combination of the two studies, the significance of the visa as a selective border infrastructure will become clear.