In 2021, almost 3 million (2 952 300) first residence permits were issued in the EU to non-EU citizens. The number increased by 31% (or +693 700) compared with 2020, reaching the pre-pandemic level observed in 2019 (2 955 300).
This information comes from data on first residence permits published by Eurostat. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on first residence permits issued during the year.
First-residence permits issued for employment-related reasons hit a record high
Employment reasons accounted for 45% of all first residence permits issued in 2021, with 1.3 million permits. This represents an increase of 47% (+429 100) compared with 2020. It is also the highest number of permits issued for employment reasons since the beginning of the time series.
Family reasons accounted for 24%, education reasons for 12%, while other reasons, including international protection, accounted for 19%.
Besides the increase in the number of residence permits issued for employment-related reasons, the other main reasons recorded also an increase in 2021 compared with 2020: 42% for education-related reasons (+105 000), 14% for family reasons (+88 600) and 15% for other reasons, including international protection (+71 000).
Source dataset: migr_resfirst
In 2021, Poland issued a third of all first residence permits granted in the EU to non-EU citizens (967 300, or 33% of total permits issued in the EU), followed by Spain (371 800, or 13%) and France (285 200, or 10%).
Italy records largest increase in first residence permits
The largest relative increase in the total number of permits issued in 2021 when compared with 2020 was recorded in Italy: +159% (from 105 700 in 2020 to 274 100 in 2021). Italy was followed by Finland (+132%; from 24 800 to 57 300) and Poland (+62%; from 598 000 to 967 300).
On the other hand, the only decreases in the total number of permits issued in 2021 when compared with 2020 were recorded in Germany (-41%; from 312 700 in 2020 to 185 200 in 2021), Lithuania (-7%; from 22 500 to 21 000) and Croatia (-4%; from 35 100 to 33 600).
Poland for work, France for study
Poland topped the list of employment-related first residence permits, with 790 100 permits issued in 2021, making up 27% of all first permits issued in the EU. France issued the most education-related permits (90 600 permits, or 3%). The EU countries with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2021 were Spain (159 200, or 5%), Italy (120 500, or 4%) and France (93 300, or 3%). Poland was also the top country in the EU issuing residence permits for other reasons, with 120 500 permits (4%) issued in 2021.
Source dataset: migr_resfirst
The top 10 citizenships granted permits in the EU accounted for 57% of all first residence permits issued in 2021.
875 800 Ukrainians received first residence permits in the EU countries in 2021, making them the largest citizenship group among all recipients (of which 83% were issued by Poland). Citizens of Morocco (150 100 permits, of which 50% were issued in Spain) and Belarus (149 000, of which 88% were issued in Poland) followed. Citizens of these countries accounted for 40% of all first residence permits issued in 2021.
Among the top 10 citizenships granted permits in the EU in 2021, employment was the main reason for permits issued to Ukrainians (88% of all first residence permits), Belarusians (47%), Indians (41%) and Russians (35%). Family was the prevailing reason for permits granted to Moroccans (59%), Brazilians (41%) and Turks (33%) and permits for education were primarily issued to Chinese (43%) and Americans (32%). Other reasons were predominant for Syrians (74%).
For more information:
- Statistics Explained article on first residence permits issued
- Interactive infographic on first residence permits issued
- Dedicated section to managed migration statistics
- Database on managed migration statistics
- Croatia: 2009-2012 data on number of first residence permits not available.
- Germany: break in time series in 2020 on number of first residence permits, resulting in the same for the EU aggregate.
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