Budapest, Hungary – Although Prime Minister Viktor Orban has made anti-immigration rhetoric a cornerstone of his rule, the Hungarian government is granting a record-number of residence permits to non-EU citizens.
According to Eurostat, Hungary recorded the highest increase in the number of residence permits granted to non-EU nationals, increasing by 113% in 2017 to more than 117.000 (compared to 55.000 in 2016).
This is the first time in at least the past decade that the number of resident permits to non-EU nationals exceeds 100.000.
It’s estimated that non-EU nationals account for roughly 1.5% of Hungary’s population.
According to Emerging Europe, the highest number of valid residence permits in Hungary were granted to Ukrainians (more than 13.000 last year), Russians (nearly 7.000 in 2017, compared to only 113 the previous year) and Chinese citizens (+148% increase year-on-year).
Although trailing far behind Hungary, other strong hikes were registered in Bulgaria (+41%), Malta (+25%) and Slovakia (+21%, reaching 48.000), according to the EU’s statistical office.
Among the EU member states with the largest stocks of residence permits, Germany, which accounts for nearly one fourth of all permits issued in the EU, recorded the highest increase (+14% between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017).
Overall, the stock of resident permits issued to non-EU citizens increased by 5% throughout the bloc, reaching 20.3 million permits at the end of 2017.
Five EU member states account for three quarters of the total: Germany (23%), Italy (18%), France (14%), Spain (13%) and the UK (8%).
The number of residence permits granted to non-EU citizens increased in almost every EU country, except for Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic, where it sank by 1.7% to approximately 300.000 in 2017.
Poland also saw an important increase of residence permits delivered to non-EU nationals: +13% from 2016 to 2017, reaching nearly 620.000 in total.