Residence permits statistics

Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2017.

This article presents European Union (EU) statistics on first residence permits issued to non-EU citizens. Data are based on the regulatory framework of the Article 6 of the Regulation 862/2007 on migration and international protection statistics.

Residence permit represents an authorization issued by the competent authorities of a country allowing third-country national (non-EU citizens) to stay legally on its territory. Data on residence permits are collected by reasons for issuing such permit. The main such reasons are: education, family, employment and other reasons (including stay without right to work, international protection, etc.). Among the main categories of reasons specific categories of reasons are distinguished (e.g. students, researchers, highly-skilled workers etc.). National administrative registers and databases are the main sources for these statistics, with the exception of the United Kingdom [1].

The evolution of residence permits at the country level reflects the national migration systems’ diversity and the influence of European immigration policy. Other factors such as: characteristics of third-country nationals, legal framework and characteristics of countries involved in the immigration process like the geographical proximity or language ties can be also important.

Figure 1: First residence permits issued by reasons, EU-28 , 2008-15 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)

Main statistical findings

Table 1: Total number of first residence permits issued by reason, in 2015 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)
Table 2: Main groups of citizenship granted a first residence permit in the EU-28 and main EU Member States issuing the permit, 2015 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)
Figure 2: Main groups of citizenship granted a new residence permit by reason, EU-28, 2015 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)
Table 3: Main citizenship of persons granted first residence permits, in 2015 Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)
Figure 3: Total first residence permits issued per 1000 inhabitants, in 2015 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst,demo_r_gind)
Figure 4: Evolution of main groups of citizenship granted a first residence permit in the EU-28, 2012-15 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)
Table 4: Main groups of citizenship granted a first residence permit in the EU-28 and main EU Member States issuing the permit, by reason, in 2015 - Source: Eurostat (migr_resfirst)

In 2015, EU Member States issued around 2.6 million first residence permits to third country nationals. This represents an increase of 12.1 % compared to the previous year (around 280 thousand more permits).

The United Kingdom (see Note 1) issued the highest number of first permits in the EU in 2015 (633 thousand), followed by Poland (542 thousand), and then at some distance by France (227 thousand), Germany (195 thousand), Spain (193 thousand) and Italy (179 thousand). These six countries accounted for three quarters of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2015.

Compared with the resident population of each Member State, the highest rates of first resident permits issued in 2015 were recorded in Malta (23.1 first residence permits issued per thousand population), Cyprus (18.4), Poland (14.3), Sweden (11.3) and the United Kingdom (9.7). In 2015, 5.1 first residence permits were issued per thousand population in the EU.

In 2015 the highest number of first permits in the EU was issued for family reasons (753 thousand, or 28.9 % of all first permits issued), followed by employment reasons (708 thousand, or 27.2 %); 619 thousand of permits were issued for other reasons (23.8 %) while 526 thousand permits (20.2 %) were issued for education reasons (see Table 1).

Compared with 2014, the number of permits issued for employment reasons recorded the largest increase (135 thousand more permits in 2015), followed by the family related reasons (73 thousand more permits) (see Figure 1).

In 2015, citizens of Ukraine (500 thousand beneficiaries, or 19.2 % of the total number of first residence permits issued in the EU) continued to receive the highest number of permits, ahead of citizens of the United States (262 thousand , or 10.0 %), China (167 thousand, or 6.4 %), India (136 thousand, or 5.2 %), Syria (104 thousand, or 4.0 %) and Morocco (96 thousand, or 3.7 %). Around half of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2015 were issued to citizens of these countries (see Figure 4 and Table 4).

Residence permits by reason

Poland (375 thousand permits, or 53 % of all permits issued for employment reasons in the EU in 2015) was by far the first destination for employment related reasons, followed by the United Kingdom (118 thousand) and Spain (42 thousand). In Poland and Lithuania, as in some other countries, permits issued for employment reasons represented the largest share of all permits issued: Slovenia, Cyprus, Slovakia and Malta (see Table 1).

With over 100 thousand permits each, Germany (134 thousand, or 18 % of all permits issued for family reasons in the EU in 2015), Italy (109 thousand, or 15 %) and Spain (102 thousand, or 14 %) were the three Member States with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2015. They were closely followed by France (92 thousand, or 12 %) and the United Kingdom (90 thousand, or 12 %). Family reason was the main reason for issuing residence permits in more than half of the EU Member States (15 out of 28) (see Table 1). In seven countries (Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Croatia, Spain, Belgium and Greece) family reasons accounted for more than 50 % of all first permits issued.

As in the previous years, the United Kingdom was by far the most popular destination in the EU for the students from non-EU countries. In 2015 about 229 thousand of education related permits were issued in this country, what represents nearly 44 % of all first permits issued for education reasons in the EU (see Table 1).

Table 1 also shows the number of first permits issued for other reasons, such as international protection, residence without the right to work (e.g. for pensioners), and people in the intermediate stages of a regularisation process. A cross-country comparison based on this miscellaneous category is hampered by the differences that exist in the national administrative and legislative systems. In countries like Austria and Greece this category of permits accounted for more than 40 % of total permits issued, while in countries like Slovenia, Lithuania, Spain, Luxembourg and Estonia this share was considerably lower (below 10 %).

Residence permits by citizenship

In 2015, citizens of Ukraine (500 thousand, or 19.2 % of the total number of first residence permits issued in the EU) continued to receive the highest number of permits, ahead of citizens of the United States (262 thousand), Chinese (167 thousand), Indians (136 thousand), and Syrians (104 thousand). These five citizenships account for about 45 % of all permits issued in the EU.

Around three quarters (376 thousand) of all Ukrainians who received first permit in the EU in 2015 received an employment related permit. As in the previous year Poland was the principal destination country (86 % of all Ukrainians receiving permits in the EU in 2015). Compared to previous year the number of employment related permits issued to Ukrainians in Poland increased in 2015 by nearly 88 %.

Various factors or even combinations of such factors influence the choice of the destination EU Member State for the third-country citizens. Among these factors are the language ties (e.g. the United States citizens in the United Kingdom), geographical proximity of the country of destination (Ukrainians in Poland), historical links (e.g. Algerians in France) and established migrant networks (e.g. Turkish citizens in Germany) (Table 3).

The distribution of citizenships granted first permit may also vary depending on the reason considered. Moroccans represent the largest group granted permit for family reasons (68 thousand), followed by Indians (52 thousand) and Syrians (35 thousand). On the other hand Chinese (102 thousand), the United States citizens (81 thousand) and Ukrainians (30 thousand) are the largest groups receiving a permit for education purposes, while Ukrainians (376 thousand), Indians (52 thousand) and Americans (38 thousand) are the top citizenships granted employment related permit (see Figure 2 and Table 4).

For some citizenships the reasons for immigration to the EU are mixed. For certain citizenships specific migration patterns meaning reasons for immigration can be observed. While family related reasons are predominant among Moroccans, Russians and Turks granted residence permit in the EU, more than 50 % of Syrians and Belorussians are issued with other reasons related permit. For Ukraine and India the main reason is employment while education reason is predominant for China and Brasil. (Figure 2).

The following of such immigration patterns may in addition depend on the destination EU Member State. For example, while most of the Chinese granted permission to reside in the United Kingdom (about 69 thousand) were granted education related permit, large majority of those authorized to stay in Italy received permits for family reasons (about 8 thousand) (see Table 4).

Data sources and availability

The statistics used for this publication are provided to Eurostat by the national responsible authorities, mainly Ministries of Interior or Immigration Agencies of the EU Member States and EFTA countries. Data are based entirely on relevant administrative sources. These data are supplied by Member States as part of the annual Residence Permits Data Collection conducted by Eurostat according to the provisions of Article 6 of Regulation 862/2007 on statistics on migration and international protection.

The main dimensions for residence permits data collection are: the reporting country, the citizenship of the permit holder, the reason for the permit being issued and the length of validity of the permits issued. Since 2010 reference year, on voluntary basis, permit data are also collected with age and sex breakdown. The dimensions may differ from one to other dataset and can be consulted in the "Database" sub-section of this article.

Certain methodological aspects are not fully harmonized between the reporting countries due to the different legal or IT systems. Therefore, the data availability may differ between countries and the interpretation of the figures resulted should be done with the help of metadata file related to Residence Permits Statistics.

Some methodological and administrative differences exist between the Member States. Namely, data for France relate to permits which were issued after at least 12 months since the expiry of the previous permit. The UK has not established residence permits register. Statistics are provided by the Home Office and mainly based on passengers given leave to enter the UK in selected categories. For further details see: Home Office.

Resident permits statistics are available as both, flows and stocks statistics:

  1. Datasets related to residence permits granted during the reference year. Data published on this category contains information about first residence permits issued during the reference year and information about change of resident status of immigrants during the reference year;
  2. Datasets related to permits valid at the end of the reference year (stock of permits). Data published on this category contains information about number of valid permissions to stay at the end of reference year and long-term legal resident status at the end of the reference year.

A subset of resident permits data - statistics on EU Blue Cards, are now collected since 2012 on the basis of the Article 20 of Directive 50/2009 - Conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment. From 2014, Eurostat also collects data on first permits granted to third-country nationals during the reference year and data on permits valid at the end of the reference period based on Single permit directive (Directive 0098/2011 ). For more information please consult the Residence permits Technical Guidelines.

Context

Migration policies within the EU are built upon solidarity and responsibility, considering valuable contribution of immigrants to the EU’s economic development and performance. Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs is responsible for immigration policy. The EU measures on legal immigration cover the conditions of entry and residence for certain categories of immigrants, such as highly qualified workers subject to the ‘EU Blue Card Directive’, students and researchers. Family reunification and long-term residents are also provided for[2].

Statistics on residence permits is collected on the basis of the Article 6 of the Migration Statistics Regulation:

The list of categories of reasons for issuing residence permit is provided by the Commission Regulation:

All relevant legal acts and information regarding the EU immigration policy can be accessed on DG HOME website.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Database

International Migration and Asylum (migr)
Residence permits (migr_res)
Residence permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship (migr_resval)
First permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfirst)
First permits issued for family reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfam)
First permits issued for education reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resedu)
First permits issued for remunerated activities by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resocc)
First permits issued for other reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resoth)
All valid permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_resvalid)
Long-term residents by citizenship on 31. December of each year - Annual data (migr_reslong)
Single Permits issued by type of decision, length of validity and citizenship (migr_ressing)
Long-term residents among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits by citizenship on 31 December (%) (migr_resshare)
Residence permits by reason, age, sex and citizenship (migr_resage)
First permits by reason, age, sex and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfas)
All valid permits by age, sex and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_resvas)
Long-term residents by age, sex and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_reslas)
Single Permits issued by type of decision, length of validity (migr_ressing)
Long-term residents among all non-EU citizens holding residence permits by citizenship on 31 December (%) (migr_resshare)
EU Blue cards (migr_resbcard)
EU Blue Cards by type of decision, occupation and citizenship (migr_resbc1)
Admitted family members of EU Blue Cards holders by type of decision and citizenship (migr_resbc2)
EU Blue Cards holders and family members by Member State of previous residence (migr_resbc3)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata


Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links

Notes

  1. Please note that the statistics for the United Kingdom use different data sources to those used in other Member States. For that reason, statistics for the UK presented in this article may not be fully comparable with other statistics presented here. Statistics for the United Kingdom are not based on records of residence permits issued (as the United Kingdom does not operate a system of residence permits), but instead relate to the numbers of arriving non-EU citizens permitted to enter the country under selected immigration categories. According to the United Kingdom authorities, data are estimated from a combination of information due to be published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 'Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom' and unpublished management information. The 'Other reasons' category includes: diplomat, consular officer treated as exempt from control; retired persons of independent means; all other passengers given limited leave to enter who are not included in any other category; non-asylum discretionary permissions.
  2. DG HOME - Towards a common European Union migration policy