VF Search

VF Research produces insights into refugee issues to inform public debates and service provision.

research brief

VF Research produces well-documented, unbiased research on refugees to enhance public debate. Noting that official, public representations of refugees are largely dominated by misconceptions about their motivations and experiences, VF Research aims to contribute knowledge of refugee behaviour.

It is well known that many asylum seekers enter Hong Kong to seek protection. Their presence poses economic, social and policy challenges. However, refugees offer us the opportunity to learn much about and rethink our society and their contribution to it. VF Research is motivated by a strong desire to understand this social phenomenon; how it relates to the local and international context; how the lived experiences of refugees are determined by government policies; and how states injuriously organize the poorer in our society.

VF Research key aims

To enhance policy debates and inform public opinion

VF Research is determined to advance knowledge about refugees traveling to Hong Kong and their survival. Our research focuses on key aspects of their livelihood and provides insights into their actions within the limited space set by government policies. Refugees are most commonly labeled deviant asylum abusers. Confined in a stringent mesh of laws, policies and practices that impinge upon their mobility across borders while ensuring that their stay remains unpleasant, refugees lament being publicly demonized as illegal economic migrants and being incarcerated for eking out a miserable existence. By collecting and analyzing factual data, VF Research aims to produce robust evidence to support a regulatory framework which balances economic prosperity with international humanitarian and legal principles.

To build Vision First’s long-term capacity to reflect, analyze and improve

A key goal of VF Research is to build Vision First’s capacity. This is done through studies that enhance awareness of refugee constraints and enable members to successfully overcome challenges. Our guiding principle is that refugees are not the speechless, shapeless people often pitied as incapable of surviving without ‘our’ help. To the contrary, they are self-aware individuals fully capable of participating in the resolution of their problems. To actualize this empowerment, we need to know what they do; why and how they do it; and what programs best advance theirs and society’s development. Therefore, it is imperative that Vision First’s and civil society’s capacity is built through research that accounts for all parties: refugees, case-workers and society. Here, one ethical principle is paramount: research into the suffering of others is only justified when it improves the lives of those studied. By strengthening Vision First’s programs and advocacy, our studies enable the voices of refugees to be heard, broadening their social opportunities.

To assess the efficiency and real impact of Vision First programs

One important VF Research target is to produce useable, internally-oriented research to assess Vision First’s understanding of refugees and the programs offered to members. Another aim is to appraise the impact of programs and how they affect beneficiaries. These efforts are targeted at informing advocacy and service planning, evaluating best practices. It is vital to ensure that Vision First’s budget is efficiently deployed to improve members’ psychosocial wellbeing. In this respect, research data will provide an indispensable tool to understand the impact of each program, while addressing the vulnerability of refugees.



Under conditions of globalization, the securitization of migration has become a priority in many countries, where it determines migration policies and the treatment of asylum seekers. The overly facilitated entry of elite professional groups is countered by the publicly–resisted, expendable movement of ‘other’ people seeking to escape persecution and obtain a better life. The mobility of the latter is subject to increased border policing. Further, resistance to prevailing legal and social norms often results in the exclusion and criminalization of those who are compelled to migrate or seek asylum.

This project investigates prevailing cultures of rejection that pervade the assessment and management of asylum seekers. An analysis of these emerging cultures and in their many manifestations are of immediate public concern, because of their apparent impact on the rule of law and social justice. The aim is to evince the nature and implementation of a trend that sees many asylum applications delayed, while claimants appear to be forced to live in hardship, most often to convey the message that further arrivals are not welcomed. The research findings will shed light on the complexity of asylum seekers’ experiences with those directly or indirectly involved in their assessment and management.

insight series

The VFR Insight Series intends to advance understanding of refugees and aims to introduce both the expert reader, and a more casual audience interested in refugee issues, to a wide variety of opinion articles and preliminary research papers.

These papers will shed light on persons and experiences whose complexity is often neglected in view of political and opportunistic considerations. To this end, Vision First invites submissions for the rapid dissemination of relevant ideas, experiences, and work practices in a sound process that is empirically articulated. Submissions are accepted from any party – both local and overseas. Comments on previous papers in the series are also welcome.

Mindful of the global scale of refugee movements and their origin in different socio-economic and political phenomena, we welcome submissions that problematize the refugee experience by offering insights on similar, comparable phenomena and practices.

Submissions should use as little formatting as possible and keep references to a minimum.


What do we know about asylum seekers and how does this affect refugee work? The missing issues hampering advocacy in Hong Kong.

[filedownload file="http://www.vfnow.org/wp-content/themes/foundationpress-child/images/resources/vf-research/VFR_Insight_Series_01.pdf" style="research-paper1"]DOWNLOAD PDF[/filedownload]


The fragmentation, shift and adaptation of the “asylum seeker” identity in Hong Kong.

[filedownload file="http://www.vfnow.org/wp-content/themes/foundationpress-child/images/resources/vf-research/VFR_Insight_Series_02.pdf" style="research-paper2"]DOWNLOAD PDF[/filedownload]


‘Occupy ISS’: Why did it happen and why should we care?

[filedownload file="http://www.vfnow.org/wp-content/themes/foundationpress-child/images/resources/vf-research/VFR_Insight_Series_03.pdf" style="research-paper3"]DOWNLOAD PDF[/filedownload]


Asylum seeking and the global city
Francesco Vecchio

The Routledge handbook on crime and international migration
Sharon Pickering and Julie Ham (eds)

Asylum seekers' Occupy movement in Hong Kong
Francesco Vecchio and Cosmo Beatson
Race & Class


Please email your enquiries and VFR Insight Series submission to info@vfnow.org

VF Research partners with