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Poland issues highest number of first residence permits in the EU

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Warsaw, Poland – Poland issued the highest number of first residence permits to non-EU nationals for the fourth year in a row, Eurostat figures show.

In 2020, Polish authorities issued nearly 600,000 first residence permits to non-EU nationals, representing more than a quarter of all permits issued throughout the bloc, and topping the charts for the fourth year running.

In total, about 2.2 million permits were granted by EU member states last year, down by 24% compared to 2019 (a drop largely linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, related travel restrictions and domestic lockdowns).

Apart from Poland, the other countries issuing the most first-time residence permits to citizens from outside the bloc were Germany (313,000), Spain (312,000), France (226,000) and Italy (106,000).

These five member states alone account for nearly 70% of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2020.

Hungary issued 55,000 permits last year, and Slovakia only 18,000, one of the lowest figures among EU countries.

The largest year-on-year decreases were recorded in the Czech Republic (-54%), followed by Greece and Malta. The only country that issued more residence permits in 2020 than the previous year was Lithuania.

A vast majority (502,000) of the permits issued by Poland were for the purpose of employment. Most of them (82%) were granted to Ukrainians coming to work on a temporary basis, confirming a long-standing migration wave from Ukraine to Poland facilitated by the current government, in part to address growing labour shortages in some industries.

Over 601,000 Ukrainians received first residence permits in EU countries in 2020, with 80% of them being granted by Poland alone.

The other largest shares of foreigners being granted residence permits by Poland came from Belarus, Russia, Georgia and Turkey.

Residence permits are official authorizations issued by EU member states allowing third-country nationals to remain on their territory for a period of at least three months. The main reasons include employment, family reunification and education.