This paper studies the impact of the current Greek crisis on the livelihoods of migrant workers who are settled in Greece. Our aim is to go beyond the general overview offered by the data of the Greek statistical service and look at what exactly is the impact of the crisis on the living and working conditions of immigrant families. We are particularly interested on studying how migrants cope with the crisis in the labour market (e.g. changes in their employment conditions, profession, work situation within the family) and on whether and why some migrants decide to return to their country of origin. The paper is based on two sets of structured qualitative interviews (conducted in spring-summer 2011 and in springsummer 2012) with a total of 72 people from the major immigrant groups in the capital city of Athens, Greece (Albanian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, Ukrainian). Results confirm the importance of legal status and networks in coping with the crisis. They highlight that return can be an option migrants have prepared for or the ultimate exit strategy. The paper prompts for further research on why intra EU migrants cope better with the crisis than third country nationals even when the latter have been longer established and well integrated in the country.
Keywords: Return, crisis, Greece, coping strategies, unemployment, legal status.