Recent Trends in International Migration in Poland

  • Published in:
    Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2012, pp. 69-90
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The article presents the main recent developments in migration policy and migration trends to and from Poland. Polish migration policy has been becoming more open to immigrants in the years 2009-2011, especially immigrants needed by the Polish economy. At the same time, according to the new migration strategy, it is going to devote more attention to the issue of immigrants’ integration. As for trends in international migration, the trans-border mobility remained elevated and intensified, among others due to agreements on the Local Border Traffic with the Eastern neighbours. Since 2006 the emigration for a permanent stay has been decreasing and immigration for a permanent stay has been increasing, mostly due to return migration of Polish citizens, but still, in 2010 a negative net migration was registered. The number of long-term Polish emigrants stabilized, while the number of short-term emigrants declined abruptly, which suggests that Poland is already in a ‘late’ or ‘mature’ phase of post-accession emigration, characterized by stabilization of the outflow of settlement type and intensification of return migration. The latter is to some extent reflected by the statistics referring to immigration for a permanent stay and to mixed marriages. Labour immigration and foreign employment in Poland have been increasing constantly over recent years.

Keywords: international migration, emigration, immigration, migration policy, Poland, SOPEMI report

1. Introduction

The acronym SOPEMI stands for the French name of Système d’observation permanente des migrations (in English: Continuous Reporting System on Migration), established in 1973 by the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As its long-standing chairman Jean-Pierre Garson said, the system was ‘to provide the OECD member countries with a mechanism for the timely sharing of information on international migration’ (OECD 2011: 5). In practice, the SOPEMI network consists of national experts reporting on international migration flows and policies incorporated in their respective states, and the OECD Secretariat experts carrying out analytical and synthetic studies published as annual International Migration Outlook. Statistical data provided by national experts were recently made available at the OECD Secretariat webpage as the Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries (extended to many non-OECD countries) and International Migration Database.

Since 1990 Polish experts have been involved in the cooperation within the SOPEMI network. The activities have included preparing annual reports for Poland (in 1990, exceptionally, also for other post-communist countries) and participating in annual sessions of SOPEMI experts at the OECD Secretariat’s headquarters in Paris. In 1996 Poland became a full member state of the OECD. From the very beginning of cooperation national reports for Poland were prepared by members of the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, that is – in chronological order – by Marek Okólski (1990-2002), Ewa Kępińska (2001-2007), and a team consisting of Marta Anacka, Agnieszka Fihel, Paweł Kaczmarczyk, Renata Stefańska (from 2009 on) and very recently (2012), Paweł Dąbrowski. Annual SOPEMI reports for Poland have also been published on-line in the CMR Working Papers series. In line with the OECD standards, reports include sections concerned with economic developments in recent years, changes in migration policy, characteristics of trans-border mobility, inflow and outflow. Recent reports have been complemented with analytical parts each year devoted to a different important topic referring to international migration in Poland. The whole has been complemented with an extended statistical annex that cannot be presented here due to space limitations.

In this article we follow the standards developed for national SOPEMI reports. In Section 2 we discuss recent developments in migration policy, in Section 3 we present the most important statistical data on international migration for Poland. The data were collected from many sources: the Border Guard, Central Population Register, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Office for Foreigners, and, complementary, the Institute for Tourism and Labour Force Survey conducted by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Poland. Finally, we present characteristics of recent trans-border mobility (Section 4), outflow from Poland (Section 5) and inflow to Poland (Section 6). Thanks to employment of various and comprehensive statistical data this study gives a complete picture of current trends in international migration in Poland. The scope of the study overwhelms developments in the migration policy up to 2011 (including 2011) and developments in the migration trends up to first months of 2011 for which the source data was already available.

2. Migration and integration policy

2.1. Migration policy developments

The 2009-2011 period could be characterized by relatively many legislative and political initiatives taken in the field of migration. One of the most important events concerning Poland’s migration policy was adoption of the first comprehensive strategic document regarding this topic entitled ‘The Polish migration policy: current state of play and further actions’. The document was adopted – after broad social consultations – on 20 July 2011 by the inter-ministerial Committee on Migration, the consultative and advisory body to the Prime Minister. General message of the document is that Poland should be more open for immigrants with skills needed on the Polish labour market and not causing integration problems. At the same time Poland should prevent abuse of immigration system. Currently, the document is awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers.

In addition to adoption of the strategic document that will have a crucial impact on the state’s migration policy in the future, in years 2009-2011 several amendments in the law relating to various aspects of migration policy were enacted. The most important legal developments concerning migration issues in the reported period are presented below.

2.2. Simplification of employment procedure for foreigners

As a rule, foreigners need work permits in order to be employed in Poland. In February 2009 important amendment to the Act on promotion of employment and labour market institutions entered into force, which greatly facilitated foreigners’ access to the Polish labour market. The most important change simplifying and shortening the procedure for issuing work permits was abolition of the obligation to apply for a work permit promise, before obtaining a work permit. Also, a fee for issuing a decision on granting a work permit was substantially reduced – to 50 zlotys for work permits issued for a period up to three months, 100 zlotys for work permits issued for a period exceeding three months, and 200 zlotys for work permits concerning pursuing export services. Previously, this fee was several times higher and it constituted an equivalent of a minimum wage. On the basis of the amended Act the list of foreigners automatically granted work permits (i.e. without labour market test) was extended with, among others, the following categories: foreigners employed in an occupation which is on the list of deficit occupations in a given region (each year determined by the region’s governor in consultation with social partners); foreigners who graduated high schools in Poland or in the other European Economic Area countries or in Switzerland in the period of three years preceding submitting application for a work permit; foreigners legally residing in Poland for three years preceding application for a work permit. The list of foreigners released from the obligation to possess a work permit was also expanded. The full access to the Polish labour market was granted to, among others, students and graduates of Polish full-time higher education studies and full-time doctorate studies in Polish universities.

Besides facilities, the amended Act on promotion of employment and labour market institutions introduced provisions aimed at preventing social dumping by specifying that foreigners’ salaries should not be lower than received by Polish citizens working on similar positions.

2.3. Simplified employment system for foreign workers from the East

Additional facilities concerning access to the Polish labour market were designed specifically for workers from the East. Poland has a simplified employment system for labour migrants from selected Eastern European countries since 2006. Initially, it was addressed only to foreigners from countries bordering Poland and it was limited to agriculture. Since 2009 the simplified procedure relates not only to nationals of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, but also to nationals of Moldova and Georgia and it embraces all sectors of economy. Residents of these countries can work in Poland without a work permit up to six months during twelve consecutive months (previously, only three months during six months) on the basis of a declaration of employer on the intention to employ a foreigner, registered at the local labour office.

On 28 July 2011 regulations imposing new information obligations for employers recruiting foreign workers from the East under the simplified procedure entered into force. Occupation, place of employment, date for start of work and period of work performance, amount of salary proposed, and even the type of contract to be concluded with a foreigner – all this detailed information employers are obliged to provide in declarations on the intention to employ a foreigner. The employers are also required to confirm that they had acquainted with provisions governing employment of foreigners and that they are aware that all information on immigrants they employ may be provided to the Border Guard, the National Labour Inspectorate or the Police. The aim of the amendments is to improve monitoring of simplified employment system for foreign workers from the East and to respond to exploitation of the system for purposes other than legal employment, such as e.g. ‘trade’ in declarations of Polish employers.

2.4. Amnesty for foreigners

On 28 July 2011 the Polish Parliament passed the Act on legalisation of stay of some foreigners in the territory of Poland.1 On the basis of the new law from 1 January 2012 to 2 July 2012 foreigners living in Poland illegally will have an opportunity to legalize their stay. Amnesty (so called abolition) will be available to all foreigners whose continuous stay in Poland is illegal at least since 20 December 2007, or since 1 January 2010 in the case of foreigners who prior to that date were granted a final decision on refusal to award the refugee status along with the decision on expulsion. Moreover, an opportunity to legalize their stay in Poland will gain foreigners for whom on 1 January 2010 next proceedings for the award of the refugee status were carried out. It is worth to stress out that the new Act on abolition is very liberal – it does not envisage any economic requirements for amnesty applicants. Under the abolition Act foreigners will be granted a permit for a fixed period valid for two years. During this period they will be entitled to work in Poland without a work permit, but only on the basis of an employment contract (not civil law agreement such as e.g. commission contract or contract for a specific task), which is not easy to obtain even in the case of Polish nationals.

2.5. Local border traffic with Ukraine, Belarus and the Kaliningrad District

On 1 July 2009 the Polish-Ukrainian local border traffic (LBT) agreement came into force (signed in 2008). On the basis of this agreement Ukrainian nationals, residing in border zone – area that extends no more than 30 kilometers from the border – do not need visas, but only local border traffic permits in order to enter Poland and to stay in the border area of Poland (Polish nationals are entitled to visa-free travels to Ukraine, so provisions of the LBT agreement are not very important from their point of view). Such a permit entitles to a multiple border crossing under the local border traffic regime. A maximum duration of each uninterrupted stay on the basis of this document may not exceed 60 days. Persons entitled to obtain the LBT permit must have documented permanent residence for a period not shorter than three years in one of 1 545 towns and villages from the Volyn, Lvov (without Lvov) and Zakarpackie oblast (ca. 1.5 million residents) and possess medical insurance policy valid throughout the period of stay. Similar LBT agreement was signed by Poland and Belarus in 2010. So far, however, due to political reasons, the agreement has not been ratified by the Belarusian side. On 14 December 2011, agreement on the LBT encompassing the entire Kaliningrad District was signed by the Polish and Russian authorities. It will enter into force by mid-2012.

2.6. Relocation and resettlement of refugees to Poland

On 28 July 2011 the Polish Parliament adopted amendments to the Act on providing foreigners with protection within the territory of the Republic of Poland, which made possible relocation to Poland refugees from the other European Union member states and resettlement from third countries to Poland foreigners recognized as refugees by the UNHCR. A number of foreigners relocated or resettled to Poland in a given year, states from which foreigners would come and the amount of funds allocated to cover the costs of relocation or resettlement will be specified by the Polish government. Thus, participation of Poland in these solidarity programs will not contribute to uncontrolled influx of forced migrants to Poland.

2.7. Policy on admitting Chechen refugees

In 2010, the number of Russian nationals declaring Chechen nationality granted international protection in Poland dropped abruptly, as compared to the previous year. While in 2009 Chechens obtained 101 positive decisions granting refugee status and 2 338 positive decisions granting subsidiary protection, one year later – appropriately – only 43 (more than 2 times less) and 222 (more than 10 times less). Sharp decline started in April 2009. According to the Office for Foreigners large number of refusals to grant Chechens international protection stems from two main reasons: changed profile of asylum seekers (larger proportion of fugitives for economic reasons) and changed situation in the country of origin (safety of civilians in Chechnya – due to, among others, completion of military actions – improved considerably). The Office points out also the fact of completion of anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya. However, according to some NGO activists change of the refugee policy towards Chechens is associated rather with the warming of political relations between Poland and Russia than with considerable improvement of situation in Chechnya.

2.8. Facilitated access to education for immigrant children

On 1 January 2010 the amended Act on education system facilitating access to education for foreign children came into force. It granted all foreign children – including children staying in Poland illegally – the right to free-of-charge education at general secondary, technical secondary and basic vocational public schools. Previously, children from non-EU countries could attend schools on the same rules as Polish nationals only at the level of primary and lower secondary schools (gymnasiums). Another important change was entitling foreign pupils who do not know Polish language well to a year-long help of the teacher’s assistant during lessons at school (a person speaking the language of immigrant children).

2.9. Draft bill on Polish citizenship

On 2 April 2009 the Polish Parliament passed a new Act on Polish citizenship. The Act has not entered into force yet because the President had referred it to the Constitutional Tribunal with a request for consideration of the constitutionality of a provision extending the possibility of acquiring Polish citizenship under administrative procedure, i.e. by the decision on acknowledgement as a Polish citizen, taken by the governor of the region. The most important amendment is granting all foreigners the right to apply for acknowledgement as a Polish citizen by the governor of the region. Hitherto, the acknowledgement procedure is accessible only to stateless persons and persons with undetermined citizenship. According to the draft bill the decision on acknowledgement will be taken by regional governors almost automatically provided that the applicant will fulfill several conditions: 3-year residence in Poland on the basis of a permanent residence permit (shorter in case of, among others, people of Polish origin and refugees), providing proof of ensured accommodation as well as maintenance means, complying with the Polish law and a completely new requirement – possessing knowledge of the Polish language confirmed by a state certificate. Currently, majority of foreigners have access only to the conferment procedure (citizenship granted by the President), which is very discretionary. Moreover, in the light of the new act possessing multiple citizenship will be allowed. Another great novelty is introduction of a possibility of restoration of Polish citizenship granted to persons, who lost it on the basis of previous acts on Polish citizenship, e.g. due to political reasons in the period of the Polish People’s Republic.

2.10. Future developments

During the reported period several new regulations concerning migration issues were elaborated, among which the most important are: the new Act on foreigners and the Act on sanctions against entities who employ third-country nationals in breach of legal provisions. The most important amendments set out in the draft assumptions for the new Act on foreigners include: introduction of a single permit covering both residence and work; extending from two to three years a maximal period for which a permit for a fixed period may be issued; imposing a requirement of a basic knowledge of Polish language (A2 level) to be granted permanent residence permit. The bill on sanctions against entities that employ third-country nationals in breach of legal provisions envisages severe penalties for employing foreigners illegally residing in Poland, even penalty of imprisonment.

As is clear from the above, the Polish migration policy has been becoming more open to immigrants in recent years, especially immigrants needed by the Polish economy. It facilitates the entry and access to the Polish labour market for desired categories of foreigners. At the same time, according to the new migration strategy it is planned to devote more attention to the issue of immigrants’ integration, what is reflected e.g. in the plans to introduce, on the one hand, voluntary integration courses for all categories of foreigners, and on the other hand, knowledge of Polish language requirement in order to obtain permanent residence permit and Polish citizenship.

3. Sources of statistical data on international migration

Measurement of migration (regarding both size of flows and stocks of migrants) is commonly acknowledged as one of the most critical areas in migration research. This point is particularly well taken in case of Poland and this is due to two reasons. Firstly, assessment of the scale of migration is complicated in case of those countries where majority of population movements constitute short-term of circular mobility (as it is in case of Central and Eastern European countries). Secondly, since 2004 enlargement and introduction of free migration regime the statistical control over migratory flows is far more complicated than before.

Still, the Central Population Register (so-called PESEL) carried out by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, is considered as the basic and official statistical source used to assess international migration from (and into) Poland. It includes all residents of the country and, consequently, records entries of immigrants and exits of emigrants. However, definitions applied are crucial here. Immigrants are defined as persons who have arrived from abroad and have been registered as permanent residents in any basic administrative unit of Poland. Emigrants are defined as persons who moved with an intention to settle abroad and delisted themselves from their permanent place of residence in Poland. The problem is that in Poland – similarly as in many other countries – the number of those who complete the act of de-registration even if they do migrate remains relatively low. As a consequence, there is a significant number of persons who are counted as permanent residents of Poland even if have de facto ceased to live in Poland (de iure residents and de facto migrants). This is the reason why official data on registered migration from Poland are treated as non reliable and this was also the main incentive to make an attempt to provide more reliable data on scale and structure of Polish mobility. The outcome of these efforts is regularly presented (since 2006, on annual basis) estimate of the stock of permanent residents of Poland staying temporarily abroad (i.e. de facto migrants) prepared and published by the Central Statistical Office (CSO 2011b).2 Contrary to the category of ‘officially registered emigrants’ a category of ‘temporary migrants’ is being used which concerns permanent residents who have stayed in a foreign country for longer than three months.

The second unique feature of the Polish statistics on migration is the reference to the Polish Labour Force Survey (LFS), conducted by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, as one of potential sources of information. This data, based on relatively big samples (recently over 50 thousand households), refers to persons aged 15 years and more who are still treated as members of households residing in Poland. Despite a large range of this survey, it has at least three disadvantages as the source of information on international migration. First, the sample of migrants does not include migrants who moved abroad accompanied by whole households, neither those staying abroad for shorter than three months (till 2006 for shorter than two months). Secondly, LFS was created for the purposes of the labour market analysis and the sample design is subordinated to this particular task. Due to above presented reasons the Central Statistical Office holds a position that data on Poles staying temporarily abroad are not representative for the total population and should be analyzed and interpreted with caution. Third, the pollsters were not trained to interview foreigners so the presence of the latter may not be documented in all cases. Thus LFS data cannot provide information on real scale of migration, however – as proven by statistical tests – it may serve as a very good data source on migration dynamics and its structural features (see particularly 2009 SOPEMI Report for Poland, Kaczmarczyk et al. 2011).

4. Trans-border mobility

The scale on trans-border mobility at Polish borders is estimated by the Institute for Tourism on the basis of the Border Guard reports and the CSO’s information on accommodation of foreigners in Polish hotels. After the communist period Poland experienced an outburst of trans-border mobility reaching its peak in 1995 with almost 90 million of arrivals of foreigners. This number dropped to about 51 million in 1998, mostly due to so-called Russian crisis and accompanying economic downturn in Poland, as well as due to coming into force of the new Act on foreigners, significantly tightening the entry conditions and border controls. However, since the Polish accession into the European Union in 2004 the number of arrivals has remained relatively stable at the level of 50-60 million annually (Figure 1). In 2009 a small drop was registered, followed by an increase in 2010 (54 and 58 million border crossings, respectively).

The arrivals to Poland have been in vast majority undertaken by the European Union citizens. In 2010, the most recent year for which detailed data is available, 81 per cent (47 385) of arrivals constituted those persecuted by the citizens of EU member states: 49 per cent citizens of the ‘old 15’, and 32 per cent of the new member states. It is self-evident that the biggest numbers of arrivals to Poland have been noted in case of citizens of neighboring countries in the Schengen area (88 per cent of total): in 2010 44 per cent of entries referred to German citizens, 16 per cent to Czech Republic citizens, 10 per cent to Slovak citizens, 5 per cent to Lithuanian citizens. As for the foreigners from outside of the Schengen area, the main groups arriving to Poland were constituted by the citizens of Ukraine (9 per cent of arrivals) and of Belarus (5 per cent).

Figure 1. Arrivals of foreigners to Poland, 1980-2010, in million

Source: own elaboration based on the Border Guard and the Institute for Tourism data.

In 2010 the Border Guard refused to let 23 758 foreigners (16 864 in 2008 and 26 941 in 2009), mostly due to lack of valid visa or other proper documents. This concerned mostly the citizens of Ukraine (11 802 persons), followed by citizens of Belarus (4 737), Russia (3 542) and Georgia (2 880). In 2010 2 349 persons have been apprehended while crossing or attempting to cross the border illegally (in 2009 – 3 581, a decline by 34 per cent). Most of apprehensions referred to the non-EU citizens (92 per cent) and a half of apprehensions involved the citizens of Ukraine (1 269 persons, 54 per cent). As a rule, apprehensions take place slightly more often at the external EU border (58 per cent in 2010), as compared to the internal border. It is worth mention that the number of apprehensions has been constantly diminishing over the last years.

The Polish accession to the Schengen area imposed on non-EU citizens the obligation of having a visa in order to enter Poland. In order to facilitate the trans-border mobility the governments of Poland and Ukraine signed the Local Border Traffic (LBT) Agreement (see Section 2.5), in force since 1st of July 2009, that concerns residents of a strip of land located up to 50 km from the border. The Agreement is of great importance for the Ukrainian citizens, as the Polish citizens are allowed to a non-visa stay in Ukraine lasting up incessantly to 60 days. Statistical data on trans-border mobility is available at the website of the Border Guard of Poland, whereas the CSO (2011a) provides additional information on expenses of Ukrainian citizens in Poland. The data is gathered only with regard to the Ukrainian citizens.

According to the Border Guard of Poland, in the period July-December 2009 Ukrainian citizens crossed the Polish border 345 thousand times (Figure 2) on the basis of the Agreement on the Local Border Traffic. In 2010 (January-December) this number increased to 3 596 thousand, whereas in the first quarter of 2011 it was already 1 218 thousand (as compared to 539 thousand in the first quarter of 2010). The majority of foreigners crossed the border a few times a week (71 per cent), 10 per cent crossed the border every day (CSO 2011a). The scale of expenses spent by the Ukrainian citizens in Poland increased and the number of new enterprises registered in the Polish border region rose as compared to the regions in Poland close to Russia and Belarus. Therefore, a similar agreement is to be concluded with Belarus: it was signed by the government of Poland on February 12th, 2010 and it has not been ratified yet by the Belarusian part. In December 2011 similar agreement concerning Kaliningrad District has been adopted and it is expected that it will come into force by mid-2012 (see Section 2.5).

Figure 2. The number of border crossings by the Ukrainian citizens within the local border traffic, 1980-2010, in thousand

Figure 2. The number of border crossings by the Ukrainian citizens within the local border traffic, 1980-2010, in thousand

Source: own elaboration based on the Border Guard data.

5. Migration from Poland

5.1. Registered in- and outflows

According to the Central Population Register, in 2010 the declining trend in the number of Polish emigrants continued fourth year in a row. The number of emigrants was a high as 17.4 thousand, i.e. 6.5 per cent smaller than in previous year and almost three times smaller than in the peak 2006 year (Figure 3). In turn, the number of those persons who immigrate to Poland remains relatively stable over last few years. In 2010 it amounted to 15.2 thousand and it meant almost 13 per cent decrease as compared to 2009, but slightly higher than in 2007 and 2008. As a consequence, in 2010 officially registered net outflow was as high as 2.1 thousand, that is 30 times higher than in 2009 and over 17 times higher than in 2006. This was mostly due to the decrease in scale of the registered outflow and a slow increase of immigration.

Figure 3. Officially registered international migration from and into Poland, 1989-2010, in thousand

Figure 3. Officially registered international migration from and into Poland, 1989-2010, in thousand

Source: Kępińska (2007); own calculations based on Central Population Register PESEL.

As for structural features of the outflow, Polish registered emigration is feminized: in 2010 the share of women among all emigrants amounted to 54 per cent. Traditionally, young persons are those who dominate among all registered emigrants. In 2010 the share of persons aged 20-39 was as high as 48 per cent in case of males and close to 50 per cent in case of females. The share of persons aged 0-14, i.e. accompanying dependents remained relatively high, 14 per cent for men and 12 per cent for women. In terms of regions of origin of Polish emigrants, in 2010 a decline was noted in case of all Polish regions. However, the distribution of sending regions remained largely unchanged as compared to previous years: the highest share of migrants originated from Śląskie region (voivodship) (22.8 per cent of all permanent migrants), Dolnośląskie region (11.6 per cent) and Opolskie region (10.6 per cent). It is important to note that relative dominance of these three regions clearly shows that data on registered flows refers to particular types of mobility only, traditional migratory flows based mainly on ethnic or kinship linkages with abroad.

In 2010 EU-27 countries dominated among destinations of Polish permanent migrants and their share was as high as 81 per cent. The main destination remains Germany targeted by around 39 per cent of all registered emigrants (12 per cent decrease noted as compared to 2009). The next main destination include: the United Kingdom (20 per cent of all emigrants, less than 1 per cent decrease noted) and United States (10 per cent, negligible increase noted) and the Netherlands (4 per cent, 2 per cent decrease noted). Decline in number of emigrants was recorded in most destinations. The only exceptions include Belgium, Czech Republic, Iceland, Australia and the United States. In all cases, however, the scale of change was (very) low.

5.2. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad according to the CSO estimate

Since 2006 the estimates presented by the Central Statistical Office of Poland serve as the most reliable and accurate data on emigrants’ stocks. Table 1 presents the outcomes of the most recent estimate published in October 2011.

Table 1. Polish citizens staying abroad for longer than three months (two months until 2006) (in thousand) and percentage changes as compared to the previous year

Table 1. Polish citizens staying abroad for longer than three months (two months until 2006) (in thousand) and percentage changes as compared to the previous year

(.) No data available.

a As for the end of a given year.

b 2002-2004 changes not reported due to lack of full data comparability.

Source: CSO (2011b).

The above-presented data documents a spectacular development of migration process in the early post-accession period: between 2004 and the end of 2007 the number of temporary Polish migrants increased by almost 1.5 million and reached 2.3 million (6.6 per cent of the total population). Since then a gradual decline in number of Poles staying temporarily abroad has been noted. The most recent estimate (accounting for the stock in 2010) was based already on the first outcomes of 2011 National Census, which makes this particular information relatively reliable. According to the presented data since 2008 a gradual decrease in scale of migration was noted, which can be attributed do the economic downturn in majority of migrants’ destinations. A slight decline in number of persons staying abroad was observed already in 2008 (2.6 per cent), in next year it amounted to 5 per cent and the stock of temporary migrants was estimated at 2.1 million. The largest scale of decline was noted in case of Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands (in 2009) and Spain (in 2010), i.e. particularly in those countries which were most seriously hit by the economic crisis. In 2010 the number of temporary migrants staying abroad remains relatively high (2 million). Most of those persons reside in the EU-27 countries (80 per cent). Notwithstanding recent changes in the stock of persons staying abroad, structure of destination countries in the post-accession period has been relatively stable (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad by destination countrya, in thousand – upper panel and as % of the total – lower panel

Figure 4. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad by destination countrya, in thousand – upper panel and as % of the total – lower panel

a As for the end of a given year.

Source: own elaboration based on the CSO data (2011b).

After the Polish accession into the European Union in 2004 the most important destination country became the United Kingdom hosting over 29 per cent of all temporary migrants. Before the accession Germany used to be the most important destination, hosting almost 40 per cent of all Polish migrants in 2004. After 2004 this country became the second most important destination (22 per cent). Interestingly, situation did not change significantly even in 2011 when transitory arrangements with respect to German (and Austrian) labour market were abolished: according to available data the number of Polish migrants staying in Germany increased by roughly 40 thousand. United Kingdom and Germany are followed by Ireland (7 per cent of all migrants), the Netherlands (5 per cent) and Italy (5 per cent). Recent data indicate significant decreases in case of countries suffering severe economic crisis, i.e. Ireland and Spain.

5.3. Migration from Poland according to LFS

As noted already even if the LFS data is not fully representative with regard to the scale of migration, it may serve as reliable and useful tool to follow dynamics and structural features of temporary migration from Poland. Figure 5 presents the estimates of number of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad for longer than three months.

Figure 5. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad according to Labour Force Survey, 1994-2011 (2nd quarter) – absolute numbers (in thousand) and year-to-year change

Figure 5. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad according to Labour Force Survey, 1994-2011 (2nd quarter) – absolute numbers (in thousand) and year-to-year change

Source: own elaboration based on the LFS data.

On the basis of the LFS data we can conclude the following:

  • since 2007 serious decline in number of persons indicated in the LFS as temporary migrants was noted; in fact, in the third quarter of 2010 the number of migrants was about the same as in 2004 (the same quarter) and increased only slightly since then; first two quarters of 2011 witnessed an increase in scale of migration but it is too early to describe it in terms of a new trend in migratory behavior;
  • notwithstanding changes in global economic climate, most of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad take up employment at destinations (since 2006 more than 90 per cent of all migrants, around 91 per cent in the most recent quarters) and thus can be described as ‘typical’ labour migrants;
  • temporary migrants from Poland are mostly men who constituted around 55 per cent of all migrants in the 1990s and over 60 per cent in last few years – in 2010-2011 the share of male migrants was as high as 62-64 per cent; this indicates different pattern of migration than shown by the register data on permanent migration from Poland;
  • temporary character of the recent migration from Poland is its interesting feature: a spectacular increase in number of migrants noted in the early post-accession phase was mostly due to increase in number of short-term migrants, i.e. migrants staying abroad for longer than 3 but shorter than 12 months. The share of those migrants in the total number was as high as 60 per cent between mid-2004 and mid-2006. In 2007 a steady decline in number of short-term migrants was noted, to around 70-80 thousand persons (22-25 per cent of all migrants) in 2011 (second quarter). Also, long-term migration figures increased from 100 thousand in late 2003 to 230 thousand in 2011 (Figure 6);

Figure 6. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad according to Labour Force Survey, 1994-2011 (2nd quarter)

Figure 6. Stock of Polish migrants staying temporarily abroad according to Labour Force Survey, 1994-2011 (2nd quarter)

Source: own elaboration based on the LFS data.

  • the data for 2009 and 2010 have shown that number of long-term migrants stabilized while sharp decline in number of short-term migrants was noted; this suggested that Poland was already in ‘late’ or ‘mature’ phase of post-accession migration. At this stage the stock of Polish emigrants could split into a group of temporary migrants who started to meet their decisions on return and to the other group which might decide to settle abroad; recent changes however may indicate that due to economic downturn one may expect further changes in migratory behavior of Poles.

6. Immigrants in Poland

6.1. Flows of foreigners according to the Central Population Register

It should be recalled from the Section 3 that the Central Population Register provides the information on persons (both Polish nationals and foreign nationals) who came from abroad and registered for a permanent stay in Poland. Thus, this data source concerns not only immigrants, but also Polish nationals.

In general, in the period 2001-2010 112.8 thousand persons registered in Poland for a permanent stay (Table 2). In 2010 the number of permanent immigrants was 15 246 persons, which was by 12 per cent less than in the previous year. The majority arrived from the countries of European Union (11 115 persons, 73 per cent), mostly the ‘old-15’ member states (10 928 persons, 72 per cent). Just like in the previous year, the most important source countries were United Kingdom (4 409), Germany (2 677), the United States (1 601 persons) and Ireland (1 200). Since these are main destinations for Polish emigrants, this data seems to include information rather on the return migration or migration of persons with the Polish descent than on inflow of foreigners. Unfortunately, the PESEL register does not distinguish nationals of Poland from foreigners and further conclusion can be only a speculation.

Table 2. Polish and foreign nationals who arrived from abroad and who registered for permanent stay, 2006-2010

Table 2. Polish and foreign nationals who arrived from abroad and who registered for permanent stay, 2006-2010

(.) No data available.

Source: Kepińska (2007), Central Statistical Office based on Central Population Register (PESEL).

The proportion of women in the inflow remains in the recent years stable; in 2010 it was 41 per cent. Persons registering in Poland for a permanent stay are relatively young, with a significant share of persons aged less than 30 years (61 per cent). Interestingly, in 2010 there was a large proportion of small children, aged under 4 (29 per cent, in 2009 22 per cent), which indicates, again, a return migration of Polish nationals for family reasons. The structure of provinces of destination in Poland has remained relatively stable in last few years: the most important were Śląskie (14 per cent of immigrants in 2010), Małopolskie (13 per cent), Dolnośląskie (12 per cent), Mazowieckie and Pomorskie (8 per cent each).

6.2. Stocks of foreigners and of temporary migrants

The Central Statistical Office estimates, on the basis of the Labour Force Survey, the stock of foreigners (aged 15 and over) residing in Poland. This data source should be treated with caution (see Section 3). The Labour Force Survey revealed a very low scale of immigration to Poland. The number of foreign citizens aged 15 and over oscillated between 50 thousand in the 1st quarter of 2010, 39 thousand in the 3rd quarter and 42 thousand in the 4th quarter (Table 3). In 2011 this number was estimated at 44 thousand in the 1st and 41 thousand in the 2nd quarter, which is rather a marginal number as for a country inhabited by 38 million persons. The figure referring to foreign born persons turned out to be much higher, 271 thousand at the beginning of 2011, because of the relocation of borders of Poland after the Second World War. For many citizens of Poland born in the pre-war period the place of birth ceased to be in 1945 within the Polish territory.

Table 3. Estimates on the number of foreigners based on the Labour Force Surveya, 2010-2011 (in thousand)

Table 3. Estimates on the number of foreigners based on the Labour Force Surveya, 2010-2011 (in thousand)

(.) No data available.

a Data refers to foreigners living in individual dwellings.

Source: Central Statistical Office, Labour Force Survey.

The information on stock of temporary migrants was derived from the Central Population Register that concerns persons (both foreigners and Polish nationals) who arrived from abroad and registered for a temporary stay of above three months in Poland. In 2009 this number was as high as 59 thousand, that is by 3 per cent more as compared to 2008 and by almost 27 per cent more than in 2007 (Table 4). This increase was both due to change in number of arriving foreigners as well as Polish nationals, but the percentage of the former in all temporary immigrants exceeded 90 per cent. In 2006-2009 Polish nationals constituted approximately 8-10 per cent of all temporary migrants. The main countries, from which temporary immigrants recruited, was Ukraine (14.2 thousand in 2009), followed by Belarus (4.1 thousand), Germany (3.2 thousand), Russian Federation (2.6 thousand), Vietnam (2.5 thousand) and Armenia (1.5 thousand). The Central Statistical Office intended to estimate the stock of temporary migrants in 2010 considering preliminary results of the 2011 Population Census; however, nothing was published at least until 2013.

Table 4. Polish and foreign nationals who arrived from abroad and who registered for temporary stay above three months (above two months until 2006), 1997-2009 (as of December 31)

Table 4. Polish and foreign nationals who arrived from abroad and who registered for temporary stay above three months (above two months until 2006), 1997-2009 (as of December 31)

(.) No data available.

Source: Kępińska (2007), Central Statistical Office based on Central Population Register PESEL.

Additionally, it is worth noting that in 2010 43 375 residence permits were issued, which was by 1 per cent more than in the previous year. Just like in previous period, they were mostly permits for a fixed period (30 451, 70 per cent) and registrations of stay of EU citizens (6 863, that is 16 per cent). The number of permits to settle was over 3 thousand. As of 31st December 2010 over 97 thousand foreigners from non-EU countries held valid permits for stay in Poland (Table 5).

Table 5. Number of valid residence permits held by non-EU citizens, as of 31st December 2010

Table 5. Number of valid residence permits held by non-EU citizens, as of 31st December 2010

Source: Office for Foreigners.

6.3. Foreign labour

The information on labour performed in Poland by foreigners, provided by the Central Statistical Office and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, refers to work permits granted individually to foreigners or to sub-contracting foreign companies operating in Poland.

The number of work permits granted in Poland has been increasing constantly since 2007 (Figure 7). As for work permits granted individually, in 2010 35 365 documents were issued, that is by 20 per cent more than in the previous year. It is expected that this rising trend will be maintained in 2011, since the number of work permits issued in the first half of 2011 exceeded the respective number for 2010 (18 396 to 15 628). In the first half of 2011 extensions constituted only 19 per cent of all work permits – the rest was constituted by documents issued for the first time. As for work permits granted to foreign sub-contracting companies, in 2010 1 756 documents were issued, which was by 43 per cent less than in the previous year. In the first half of 2011 already 2 230 work permits to foreign sub-contracting companies were granted.

Figure 7. Work permits granted to foreigners by type, 1995-2011a

Figure 7. Work permits granted to foreigners by type, 1995-2011

a Data for 2011 from January to June only.

Source: own elaboration based on the National Labour Office and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy data.

In 2010 the main economic sectors of foreign employment were retail and wholesale trade (16 per cent of work permits), construction sector (16 per cent), manufacturing (11 per cent), professional, scientific and technical activities (9 per cent). As for the country of origin of foreign employees, in 2010 the largest groups were constituted by citizens of Ukraine (35 per cent), China (17 per cent), Vietnam (6 per cent), Nepal (6 per cent), Belarus (5 per cent), Turkey (4 per cent) and India (3 per cent). All the above-mentioned groups of foreign employees were dominated by qualified workers and workers performing simple jobs, employed mostly in retail and wholesale trade (the case of citizens of China, Ukraine, Vietnam), manufacturing (the domain of citizens of Ukraine), construction sector (Ukraine and China). An interesting new phenomenon concerned a large number of the citizens of Nepal, mostly employed in professional, scientific and technical activities. Such an abrupt inflow from this country and the peculiarity of sector of employment indicate that specific migration networks linking Poland and Nepal (and involving recruitment agencies) have been established. Apart from that, distributions of occupations, economic sectors and nationalities remain similar over the last years and the preliminary data for the first half of 2011 do not show any change. Over half of work permits granted individually in 2010 was issued in Mazowieckie, other regions attracting foreign workers were Śląskie, Pomorskie, Lubuskie.

In 2009 a simplified procedure of employment gave a way to increased inflow of foreign labour. According to the procedure, the citizens of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia do not need to receive a work permit in order to work up to six months during twelve consecutive months, on the basis of Polish employer’s declaration of intent to employ a foreigner. On the basis of such a declaration Polish consulates issue visas which enable citizens of those countries to enter Poland and undertake employment.

The number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner on the basis of simplified procedure increased from almost 22 thousand in 2007 to 180 thousand in 2010 (by 4 per cent less than in 2009) and 164 thousand in the first half of 2011 (Table 6, Figure 8). As in the previous years, in 2010 Ukrainians constituted the vast majority of foreigners for whom the declaration was made on the basis of this procedure (169 thousand, that is 94 per cent). Further nationalities were the citizens of Moldova (5.9 thousand), Belarus (3.6 thousand), Russia (0.6 thousand) and Georgia (0.5 thousand). In 2010 and the first half of 2011 the main economic sectors represented by the employers were agriculture and the construction sector (Table 6), which explains seasonality of the demand (Figure 8). Further economic sectors of employment were household services and manufacturing, hotels and restaurants. Agencies of temporary work, for which the economic sector remains unspecified, reported intent to employ for a considerable group of foreigners.

Table 6. Number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner, by sector of employment, 2007-2011a

Table 6. Number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner, by sector of employment, 2007-2011

(.) No data available.

a Data for 2011 from January to June only.

Source: own elaboration based on the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy data.

Figure 8. Number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner, August 2007-June 2011

Figure 8. Number of employers’ declarations of intent to employ a foreigner, August 2007-June 2011

Source: own elaboration based on the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy data.

6.4. Mixed marriages

This section is based on the data derived from the Central Population Register on marriages contracted in Poland between a permanent resident of Poland and a person residing permanently abroad before marriage (of foreign or of Polish nationality).

In general, the number of mixed marriages registered in Poland has been increasing since 2006. In 2010 3 732 marriages were contracted between a resident of Poland and a foreign resident and 86 marriages between both foreign spouses. Those numbers constitute, altogether, only 1.7 per cent of all marriages contracted in Poland, which – again – points to still very low level of immigration to the country. Similarly to previous years, mixed marriages in Poland are contracted more often between a husband residing abroad and a wife residing in Poland (75 per cent). As for a husband from abroad, in 2010 the main sending countries were the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Ireland and France. Interestingly, those countries constitute destinations for Polish emigrants rather than typical origin countries for immigrants trying to settle down in Poland. Therefore, it is highly probable that mixed marriages contracted with a man residing in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Ireland or France concerned mostly Polish emigrants. The opposite situation can be observed in the case of wives from abroad, for whom the main sending countries were Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation. Since those are typical origin countries of immigrants, the mixed marriages contracted with a women residing in Ukraine, Belarus or the Russian Federation concerned mostly immigrants.

6.5. Naturalization and repatriation

The Polish citizenship is based on the ius sanguinis rule. Persons who do not have Polish parent(s) dispose of four procedures of acquiring Polish citizenship, open to different categories of foreigners: conferment procedure (with President as a competent authority), acknowledgment procedure (with governor of the region as a competent authority), declaration procedure (with governor of the region as a competent authority) and repatriation procedure. A foreigner willing to obtain the Polish citizenship is obliged to reside incessantly in Poland usually for at least ten years, which is a strict condition and results in a relatively low number of the Polish citizenship acquisitions. The following numbers refer to three procedures of acquiring Polish citizenship: by conferment, acknowledgement and declaration. On the basis of these procedures 1 528 persons acquired Polish citizenship in 2007, 1 054 in 2008, 2 503 in 2009 and 2 926 in 2010. The main recipients were citizens of the former USSR: Ukrainians (992 persons in 2010), Belarusians (418), Russians (215), Armenians (101). The Vietnamese and German citizens constituted further major groups (97 and 92, respectively).

The resettlement law constitutes a legislative basis for settling down in Poland and this procedure is open to persons of Polish descent or origin. Officially, there are two possibilities to resettle in Poland: on the basis of the repatriation procedure and on the basis of the Article 52(5) of the Constitution.3 In practice, there are also numerous cases of persons who have finished studies, begun the economic activity, and use the resettlement procedure to stay in Poland. Just like in the case of naturalization procedure, there are relatively few persons benefiting from the resettlement. The main reason for that are financial constraints related to repatriation to be borne by the Polish local authorities (accommodation and vacant job offers). Thus, after a certain peak in the period 2000-2001 when approximately 1 thousand repatriation visas were issued annually, their number dropped to 204 in 2008, 164 in 2009 and 139 in 2010. Simultaneously, applications for repatriation visas decreased to 178, 240 and 125 (in the years 2008, 2009, 2010). In 2010 the largest group of incoming repatriates originated from Kazakhstan (84), Russian Federation (23), and Ukraine (15).

Due to problems with financing of repatriation other procedures are being more and more often used by persons of Polish descendent willing to live in Poland. The Card of the Pole (according to the Act on the Card of the Pole passed in September 2007) is a document proving the adherence to the Polish nation and it facilitates obtaining further permits for coming and – possibly – settling down in Poland. The following numbers reflect only applications for the Card of the Pole, and not real flows of migrants. Until the end of 2010 approximately 55 thousand applications were submitted (19 046 in 2010). The vast majority of applications has been approved and approximately 40 thousand Cards were granted (18 333 in 2010). Around 90 per cent applications were submitted in Ukraine (app. 29 thousand) and Belarus (app. 20 thousand), followed by Lithuania (3 thousand) and Russia (1.7 thousand). According to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the realization of the Polish Act on the Card of the Pole in Belarus is impeded by the local administration.

6.6. Inflow of refugees / asylum seekers

The number of applications for the refugee status has not been stable in recent years: 8.5 thousand in 2008, 10.5 thousand in 2009 and 6.5 thousand in 2010. Also, the number of first applications varied, from 7.2 thousand in 2008 to 9.7 thousand in 2009 and 4.3 thousand in 2010. Similarly to previous year, in 2010 the Russian Federation constituted the main sending country of asylum seekers (73 per cent of all applications). It is presumed that the majority of applicants with the Russian citizenship was constituted by persons declaring Chechen nationality. Another sending country was Georgia (17 per cent), but the number of Georgian applicants was on decrease since 2009 as most of applications were denied as manifestly unfounded.

In 2010 82 persons were granted the refugee status in Poland according to the Geneva Convention, which shows a relevant decrease as compared to the previous years (186 in 2008 and 131 in 2009). There were mostly citizens of Russia (42 persons) and Belarus (19). In the same year only 195 persons got supplementary protection (1 074 in 2008 and 2 316 in 2009), whereas 196 persons were allowed to stay in Poland on the basis of tolerated status (1 507 in 2008 and 65 in 2009). Again, the vast majority of those persons were the citizens of Russia.

Notes

1Amnesty for foreigners of 2012 is a third regularization action in Poland. The first two took place in 2003 and 2007. Requirements for taking advantage of previous abolitions were much more restrictive.

2 The stock of temporary Polish migrants (defined as explained above) is being estimated on the basis of: the 2002 National census data (basis for the estimation), data on officially registered flows (referring to permanent migrants), data of quarterly Labour Force Survey, and statistics on Polish migrants in destination countries, including administrative data on the number of work registrations, insurance registrations, residence permits, work permits as well as LFS data.

3 The former is open to persons from the Asian part of ex-USRR, the latter to persons from all over the world. The Card of Pole can be available to persons from the all ex-Soviet republics.

References

CSO (2011a). Border traffic and movement of goods and services at the European Union’s external border on the territory of Poland in 2010. Warszawa, Rzeszów: Central Statistical Office.

CSO (2011b). Informacja o rozmiarach i kierunkach emigracji z Polski w latach 2004-2010. Warsaw: Central Statistical Office.

Kaczmarczyk P. (ed.) (2011). Recent Trends in International Migration in Poland. The 2009 SOPEMI report. CMR Working Paper 50(108). Ośrodek Badań nad Migracjami UW.

OECD (2011). OECD at 50 - International migration and the SOPEMI. Paris: OECD.