One of the most frequent forms of discrimination existing in employment is that practised against foreign migrant workers, who constitute a sort of ethnic minority within a country, with inadequately protected rights and a differing economic and social situation from that of indigenous workers. Aside from the fact that in most countries some occupations are the subject of regulations and are closed to foreigners, access to employment is, for migrant workers, subject to the limitations of the employment situation, which determines and curtails their chances and frequently confines them to the most arduous or disagreeable occupations (building, mining, etc) which have been abandoned by the national workers. Occupational advancement depends on learning the language, and the lack of opportunity in this respect may amount to discrimination. Where the migrant workers are from former colonies or dependent territories, stereotypes associated with colonialism may continue or be reactivated. Restrictions as regards access to employment also include the age limits for the entry of migrant workers laid down by some countries. These limits often hinder the arrival of a family group.
The extensive mixing of populations which occurred after the Second World War, followed by an intensification of the movement of migrant workers within Europe, helped to create this situation of discrimination.