This article focuses on the experiences of Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan and their aspirations to migrate onwards. It is based on interviews carried out between October 2015 and January 2016—a time that coincided with unprecedented irregular movement of refugees and migrants to Europe, partly a result of secondary migrations from countries neighbouring Syria such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Our data includes more than 60 in-depth interviews with refugees, some of whom have recently started moving and others who have been on their migratory journey for many years. We argue that changing circumstances and the structural constraints of life in exile forced refugees to reconsider their integration and migration strategies in host countries such as Jordan. We also demonstrate how inadequate reception is a generator of further fragmented migrations and how variations in refugee perceptions, resources and strategies propel different migratory practices and decisions. Importantly, we add a comparative perspective to current studies of Syrian refugees in the Middle East, highlighting key differences in Iraqi and Syrian refugees’ migration aspirations and movement plans.