The European statistics provider, EUROSTAT, has revealed that the number of first residence permits issued by authorities in the European Union countries to non-EU citizens has dropped by 24 per cent, accounting for 700,000 people, compared to the pre-pandemic year. This decrease is the lowest witnessed between 2013 and 2020, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to EUROSTAT, such figures have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as travel and administrative-related restrictions raised by governments for this rock-bottom drop.
The data provider further reveals that almost half of the applications approved for obtaining a residence permit in the EU throughout 2020 were work and employment-related, accounting for 40 per cent of all permits issued.
At the same time, family reasons were the second reason with 28 per cent of approved applications, followed by education reasons for 11 per cent. Out of all applications for residence permits, 21 per cent were approved for international protection, highly affected by the safety concern in Afghanistan.
Moreover, 38 per cent fewer students obtained residence permits for their studies compared to 2019. A decrease of 25 per cent, accounting for 294,000 individuals, was also noted on residence permits issued to workers compared to last year. About 189,000 more applicants received a negative response for their residence permits applications filed for family reasons. A sharp drop (13 per cent) was also detected on residence permits issued for international protection, accounting for 72,000 people.
However, the only country with an increase in permits issued in 2020 was noted in Lithuania, with a five per cent increase (from 21,400 permits in 2019 to 22,500 permits in 2020).
In contrast to Lithuania, Czechia witnessed the largest decrease in the total number of permits issued in 2020, with a 54 per cent drop. In 2019, the figure was set at 117,000 permits, dropping to 54,300 permits in 2020. Greece also suffered a drop in residence permits obtained by 53 per cent, from 42,300 to 19,800, followed by Malta from 21,200 to 11,100, accounting for a 48 per cent drop.
Poland issued the highest number of residence permits for employment for 2020, with 502 300 permits, making up 22 per cent of all first permits issued in the EU. Moreover, France issued the most education-related permits, accounting for three per cent of all permits issued (72 700 permits).
“Among the top ten citizenships granted permits in the EU in 2020, employment was the main reason for permits issued to Ukrainians (86 per cent of all first residence permits) and Belarusians (60 per cent). Family was the prevailing reason for permits granted to Moroccans (53%) and education for permits issued to Chinese (36 per cent). Other reasons were predominant for Venezuelans (78 per cent) and Syrians (70 per cent),” the press release by EUROSTAT shows.
Germany issued about six per cent of all residence visas for family reasons issued in the EU, accounting for 130,700, followed by Spain (119,500, or five per cent) and France (80,200, or four per cent). Germany was also the top country in the EU issuing residence permits for other reasons, with 153 000 permits or seven per cent of all visas issued.
According to EUROSTAT, 601,200 Ukrainians received their first residence permits in the EU countries in 2020, making them the largest citizenship group among all recipients. About 81 per cent or 488,900 of those visa permits issued for Ukrainians came from the Polish government.
Moroccans followed with 123,400 permits, with 56 per cent of those being issued in Spain and 79,270 Indians, 14 per cent out of which were issued in Germany.