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More Than 117,000 Non-Eu Citizens Came to Work and Live in Hungary in 2017

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.05.23.

While the stock of valid residence permits issued to non-EU citizens increased by a small margin in the European Union in 2017, it has more than doubled in Hungary, Eurostat reports.

Within one year, the stock of valid residence permits issued to non-EU citizens increased across the European Union by five percent. While this is a moderate change, the latest results show that among the member states, the largest increase occured in Hungary. The country topped the list with an astoundingly high 113 percent increase.

This is unprecedented and spans well beyond the results of statistics from previous years. While 45,000 non-Eu citizens were granted valid residence permits in 2015, this number increased to 54,000 in 2016. Though already eyebrow-raising, the Hungarian state eclipsed this by issuing 117,000 residence permits in 2017. In comparison, the second highest rate of increase was recorded in Bulgaria with (only) 41 percent.

The increase is primarily employment-related: the majority of those requesting a permit come to the country for work. In recent years, the number of Hungarian workers has drastically decreased; therefore, companies are forced to employ foreign workers.

There could be another factor behind the phenomenon: The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program, which was suspended in 2017. According to the Immigration and Asylum office, between its start in 2013 and its end, nearly 20 thousand people obtained (family members included) residence permits through the program.

Unsurprisingly, the Hungarian opposition has been very critical of the trend.

Jobbik Proposes Special Guard to Oversee Migrant Workers

Nationalist opposition party Jobbik accused the government of accepting Hungarian emigration so that it could bring in migrant workers and keep wages low. The party’s other critique is that the government installs cheap Eastern labor only to serve the needs of large German companies. The opposition party proposed the establishment of a special guard that would be tasked with overseeing migrant workers in the country.

According to Socialist-Párbeszéd, there’s an emigration crisis in Hungary due to Hungarians leaving the country in great numbers. Meanwhile, the government is pitting people against migrants while simultaneously bringing economic migrants into the country.

In its response to the critics, governing party Fidesz stated that Jobbik intentionally confuses migrants who come here to work legally and temporarily with the illegal African and Middle Eastern migrants flooding Europe.

Featured photo by Városliget Zrt./MTI