Ukrainian citizens in the EU
Data extracted in March 2022
Planned article update: October 2022
1.35 million Ukrainian citizens were authorised to stay in the EU at the end of 2020, representing the third biggest group of non-EU citizens, behind Morocco and Turkey.
Poland, Italy and Czechia reported the largest number of Ukrainians holding a valid residence permit at the end of 2020.
In relation to the size of their population, Czechia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Hungary were the EU Member States where the share of Ukrainian citizens holding a valid residence permit was the highest at the end of 2020.
Introduction: the situation before Russia's invasion in 2022
In the context of the Russia's current invasion of Ukraine and the massive inflows of Ukrainian refugees to the EU since 24th February 2022, this article presents the available data on migration from Ukraine. It covers the period between 2013 and 2021, which includes the separatist conflict in the Donbas region and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia.
The statistics refer to Ukrainian nationals who either hold a valid residence permit, have acquired a first residence permit or have lodged an asylum application in the EU.
Statistics on residence permit provide insights into the numbers of Ukrainians in the EU before Russia's invasion and their main characteristics (geographical distribution, sex and age profile and reasons for receiving residence permit).
The pre-Russian invasion picture is completed by the total number of Ukrainians who acquired citizenship of one of the EU Member States between 2010 and 2020.
Lastly, statistics on Ukrainian asylum seekers gives indication about their destination in the EU and protection received.
At the end of 2020, 1.35 million Ukrainian nationals were holding a valid residence permit in one of the EU Member States. Of these, just over 1 million had a residence permit with a duration of 12 months or more.
Data on permits of 12 months or more points to the more permanent Ukrainian diaspora in the EU, whereas the total number of valid residence permits also includes Ukrainians authorised to stay on a more temporary basis (less than 12 months), either for seasonal or short-term work or education reasons.
At the end of 2020, Ukrainian citizenship was the third most represented non-EU citizenship either for the total number of valid residence permits in the EU or for the total of residence permits with a duration of at least 12 months behind Morocco and Turkey.
At the end of 2013, Ukrainians were ranked in 4th position behind Morocco, Turkey and Albania for the total number of valid residence permits and in 6th position behind also China and Algeria for permits valid for at least 12 months.
Figure 1 shows a regular upward trend over the 2013-2020 period for Ukraine with a total growth of 59.4% for the total number of residence permits and 56.7% for those with a duration of at least 12 months. Whereas, for example, this remained stable for Morocco and decreased for Turkey between 2013 and 2020.
In absolute values, it corresponded to an increase of 502 000 permits over 7 years (+377 000 for permits valid at least 12 months) in the number of Ukrainian nationals holding valid residence permit in the EU. Only total residence permits given to Syrian nationals had a higher increase (+869 000 and +871 000 respectively) between 2013 and 2020.
When looking at the EU Member States where the total number of Ukrainian nationals authorised to stay rose the most between 2013 and 2020 (Table 1), an increase of more than 25 000 was observed in five EU countries: Poland (+323 880), Czechia (+58 318), Hungary (+44 717), Slovakia (+33 659) and Lithuania (+27 686). Altogether, those five countries contributed 97.2% of the increase observed in the EU.
On the opposite side, the number of Ukrainian nationals authorised to stay decreased by more than 10 000 in Germany (-29 596), Portugal (-12 461) and Italy (-10 126). In Italy, this drop has been caused by the decline in short-term residence permits whereas for Germany and Portugal, the drop is also observed for residence permits with a duration of at least 12 months.
Nevertheless, these decreases were offset by acquisitions of citizenship in Germany, Portugal and Italy (see below section on acquisition of citizenship). Still concerning residence permits with a duration of at least 12 months, the observed increase in the EU (+376 776) mainly resulted from the rise in the same 5 EU Member States quoted above: Poland (+199 709), Czechia (+61 231), Hungary (+32 032), Slovakia (+31 029) and Lithuania (+27 880).
The contribution of Poland to the increase observed at EU level was 53.0% for residence permits with a duration of at least 12 months whereas it was 64.5% for the total number of residence permits.
About 3 Ukrainian nationals out of 4 holding a residence permit valid at least 12 months in the EU are residing in 5 countries: Poland (21.9%), Italy (21.3%), Czechia (15.6%), Spain (9.1%) and Germany (7.7%) - see Figure 2.
If we consider the total number of residence permits, the weight of Poland (37.1%) significantly increases by 15.2 percentage points, mainly due to seasonal and temporary work by Ukrainians in Poland. In other EU Member States, the addition of permits with a duration lower than 12 months does not drastically change the total number of Ukrainian nationals authorised to stay.
In relative terms (Figure 3), the ratio of Ukrainian nationals holding a valid residence permit per thousand inhabitants was above the EU value (3 ‰) in eight EU Member States: Czechia (15.5 ‰), Poland (13.2 ‰), Lithuania (11.2 ‰), Estonia (9.7 ‰), Slovakia (7.3 ‰), Hungary (5.9 ‰), Cyprus (4.6 ‰), Latvia (4.6 ‰) and Italy (3.8 ‰). When considering residence permits with a duration of at least 12 months, this pattern remains almost the same, with the exception of Poland where this ratio drops from 13.2 to 6.0, and to a lesser extent in Hungary where it drops from 5.9 to 4.6.
Acquisition of citizenship
Ukrainian nationals acquiring citizenship of one of the EU Member States can also be considered as part of the Ukrainian diaspora present in the EU. Figure 4 shows the breakdown by EU Member States of the total number of Ukrainians who acquired citizenship of an EU country between 2010 and 2020.
The total number at the EU level was 184 405, which represents 13.7% of the total number of Ukrainians holding a valid residence permit in the EU at the end of 2020.
Acquisitions of citizenship by Ukrainians were higher than 10 000 in 5 EU Member States, representing 69.0% of the EU total number of acquisitions: Germany (43 222), Portugal (27 860), Poland (22 664) Italy (22 386), and Czechia (11 058).
Reasons why Ukrainians stay in the EU
Figures 5.a and 5.b give the reasons for staying for the total number of residence permits and for those valid at least 12 months. For both types of residence permits, the main reason to stay was for remunerated activities i.e. employment-related reasons (54.3% and 44.8% respectively), followed by family reasons (21.6% and 27.4% respectively) and other reasons (21.2% and 25.7% respectively).
Note that “other reasons” is a residual category which could include long-term permits delivered without specific reasons or permits for residence only. Education and the provision of the EU protection status represented a marginal weight (less than 3%) in the number of Ukrainian nationals authorised to stay in the EU.
The main difference between both figures is the significant lower weight of remunerated activities in the number of permits valid at least 12 months, reflecting once again the high number of short-term work-related permits with a duration lower than 12 months delivered by Poland to Ukrainians.
The scatterplot in Figure 6 shows the weight of the remunerated activities and family reasons, by EU Member State. Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Croatia and Slovakia are situated in the upper left quarter, indicating that remunerated activities are predominant in comparison with family reasons, whereas Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Sweden and Romania are in the lower right quarter, indicating the clear predominance of family reasons.
The weight of remunerated activities for Italy has also to be highlighted, even if the weight of family reasons is above the EU average.
First residence permits
The number of residence permits valid on a reference date provides an estimation of the Ukrainian nationals in the EU, while first residence permits issued in a reference year gives an estimate of legal immigration flows of Ukrainian nationals.
First residence permits valid at least 12 months give an indication on long-term legal immigration, whereas the number of first residence permits valid less than 1 year is related to short-term immigration.
Figure 7 shows the development of the total number of first-residence permits issued by EU Member States.
The number of first residence permits delivered to Ukrainian nationals followed an upward trend from 2013 to 2019 for all types of permits before a drop in 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The yearly average growth rate of the total number of first permits delivered to Ukrainians was equal to 14.8% and 17.7% when considering only first permits valid at least 12 months.
In 2020, the total number of first permits issued amounted to 601 239 of which 136 505 (22.7% of the total) first permits were valid at least 12 months and 464 734 (77.3% of the total) first permits were valid less than 12 months. For both types of first permits, Ukrainian citizenship ranked first when looking at the breakdown by citizenship of first residence permits issued in the EU to non-EU nationals.
Over the 2013-2020 period, almost 4.3 million first permits were delivered to Ukrainians, but only 792 326 (18.6%) had a duration of at least 12 months.
Table 2 presents the details by EU Member State, where the considerable weight of Poland (83.6%) in the total number of first permits issued in the EU must be highlighted.
When looking at first permits valid at least 12 months, the weight of Poland drops to 33.1%, reflecting the fact that only 7.3% of first permits issued by Poland to Ukrainians nationals have a duration of at least 12 months.
Still concerning Poland, the average yearly growth rate of first permits valid at least 12 months was significantly higher than the rate for the total number of first permits (58.1% versus 16.1%).
In all the other EU Member States except Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia and Finland, a majority of first permits are issued with a duration of at least 12 months. In absolute terms and after Poland, Czechia (22.8%), Hungary (8.7%), Slovakia (5.0%), Italy (5.0%) and Lithuania (4.6%) were the 5 EU Member States that issued the highest number of first permits valid at least 12 months. Altogether, those 6 countries represented 79.1% of the first permits valid at least 12 months issued in the EU between 2013 and 2020.
Population of Ukraine
The data on Ukraine's population provided by Ukrainian statistical authorities exclude from 2015 onwards the illegally-annexed Crimea and city of Sevastopol and part of the temporarily occupied territories of the self-proclaimed separatist entities of Donetsk and Luhansk, which explains the drop of almost 2.5 million observed between 1 January 2014 and 1 January 2015. Nevertheless, this sharp and punctual drop is part of a downward trend in the Ukrainian population, as can be seen in Figure 8. From 2015 to 2021, the Ukrainian population decreased by 1.3 million.
Apart from this decrease in the total population, the Ukrainian age structure presented in Figure 9 indicates some other characteristics. The weight of females on 1 January 2020 was 53.2%, which is 2.1 percentage points higher than in the EU. This imbalance between the share of males and females results from the difference between Ukrainian males and females aged at least 45 years old and reflects the excess mortality of males. Otherwise, the share of young people (less than 30 years) is slightly less than in the EU, which is indicative of the trend of an aging Ukrainian population.
When comparing these figures with the 4.1 million refugees counted by the UNHCR since the beginning of Russia's invasion (i.e. UNHCR total on 31 March 2022) and taking into account that the Ukrainian refugees are mainly composed of children and females, this could accelerate the aging character of the Ukrainian population in the short term. Lastly, when counting only females and males aged under 15 years or over 60 years, the size of these more vulnerable groups is about 29.1 million.
Figure 10 compares the age structure of Ukrainian nationals authorised to stay in the EU and those holding a residence permit valid at least 12 months at the end of 2019.
One of the main features shown by these figures is the different distribution of males and females between those two populations. The share of males is 48.2% of the total number of Ukrainians with a residence permit whereas it is only 43.9% for those with a permit valid at least 12 months.
This difference is explained by the age group 15-60 years corresponding approximately to the active population. When comparing those two age structures with the one for the Ukrainian population (Figure 9), the share of children in the Ukrainian population holding a residence permit valid in the EU was significantly lower (at least 2.4 percentage points) than the one observed for the Ukrainian population.
In contrast, Ukrainian nationals aged between 15 and 44 years authorised to stay in the EU are over-represented (58.6% of the total number of residence permits and 53.1% of those valid at least 12 months) compared with the same age groups recorded in the Ukrainian population (40.0%).
First-time asylum applicants
Data on first-time asylum applicants shows the number of Ukrainians who lodged a first application for international protection in the EU.
In the context of Russia's current invasion of Ukraine, it must be highlighted that Ukrainian refugees may directly benefit from a temporary protection status which provides comparable protection to refugee status. Although enjoying this right, the refugees will not have to lodge an asylum application until the temporary protection status is terminated, and therefore, unless they formally apply for international protection, will not be considered as asylum applicants, strictly speaking.
The evolution in the numbers of Ukrainian asylum applicants (Figure 11) over the 2013-2020 period shows a peak in 2014 and 2015 corresponding to the the illegal annexation of Crimea and city of Sevastopol by Russia and the beginning of the Donbas war.
The maximum number of Ukrainian first-time asylum applicants amounted to 20 565 in 2015 before decreasing to 5 345 in 2021. Over the entire period (Table 3), 82 000 Ukrainians lodged an asylum application in one of the EU Member States. Among them, 52.1% were males and 24.2% were minors below the age of 18.
The main destinations were Italy (17 750), Spain (14 890), Germany (14 090), France (10 460), and at a lesser extent Sweden (6 045) and Poland (5 305) – altogether representing 83.6% of the total recorded in the EU between 2013 and 2021.
Shares of males higher than 60% were recorded in Slovakia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechia, Luxembourg and Sweden, whereas the highest shares of females were recorded in Cyprus (65.5%), Greece (59.6%) and Italy (57.6%).
Concerning the share of minors, the highest were in Austria (39.1%), Germany (35.6%), Slovenia (33.3%) and Estonia (31.6%). Lastly, 7 750 Ukrainian asylum seekers were still waiting for a decision on their applications at the end of 2021.
Data on asylum decisions provides information on the outcome of the asylum applications lodged by Ukrainian nationals at first instance and at final instance after an appeal against the preceding decision. Decisions are broken down into several categories:
- Positive decisions:
- refugee status (uniform EU status)
- subsidiary protection status (uniform EU status)
- protection for humanitarian reasons (national status)
- Negative decisions
- Temporary protection status
The evolution in the total number of positive decisions, broken down by first and final instance decisions, is presented in Figure 13 and shows a peak in 2015 and 2016, with a lag of approximately 1 year compared with the peak observed for asylum applications. A maximum of 3 150 positive decisions were recorded in 2016 before decreasing to 1 220 in 2020. Most positive decisions for Ukrainians were taken at first instance, with the proportion fluctuating between 69% and 95%.
Between 2013 and 2020 (Table 4), 14 220 positive decisions were issued to Ukrainian asylum seekers in all EU Member States, of which 12 220 (85.9%) were taken in first instance.
Average recognition rates in first and final instance were respectively 19.3% and 8.8% between 2013 and 2020. In first instance, recognition rates over 40% were recorded in 5 EU Member States: Portugal (78.2%), Estonia (63.3%), Malta (58.1%), Slovakia (50.0%) and Italy (44.9%). In final instance, only in Ireland (61.5%) and Italy (55.3%) were recognition rates over 40%.
Based on these rates and the number of asylum seekers recorded in Italy, Italy is the EU Member State that issued the highest number of positive decisions (7 315 positive decisions, representing 51.6% of the total positive decisions issued in the EU) between 2013 and 2020. France (Figure 14) represented 13.4% of the total positive decisions taken in the EU between 2013 and 2020 followed by 5 countries (Spain, Germany, Poland, Austria and Czechia) representing between 6.0% and 3.3% of the EU total. It must be pointed out that most of the positive decisions issued by Italy were taken for humanitarian reasons based on national legislation.
- Data on residence permits, including permits with a duration of at least 12 months, are based on administrative decisions and therefore not directly comparable with international migration statistics, which are based on the concept of “usual residence” and include intra-EU immigration flows, the number of births and deaths in the migrant population and emigration flows.
- In most cases France does not issue residence permits to children under 18.
- The breakdown by age and gender of residence permits valid at least 12 months has been estimated, based on the structure by age of the Ukrainian migrant population and all valid residence permits.
Source data for tables and graphs
The residence permit and asylum statistics are based on administrative sources and are supplied to Eurostat by national statistical authorities, interior ministries or immigration agencies, as required by Regulation (EC) No 862/2007.
More information on this data collection can be found in the following explanatory texts and methodological articles:
- Residence permits (ESMS metadata file — migr_res_esms)
- Residence permits — a methodological and analytical overview
- Applications (ESMS metadata file — migr_asyapp_esms)
- Decisions on applications and resettlement (ESMS metadata file — migr_asydec_esms)
- Asylum statistics introduced
Eurostat aims to collect data on population on 1 January. The recommended definition is the 'usually resident population' and represents the number of inhabitants in a given area on 1 January of the reference year. However, the population transmitted by national bodies to Eurostat under Regulation (EU) No 1260/2013 on European demographic statistics can also be based either on data from the most recent census (adjusted by the components of population change produced since the last census) or on population registers.
More information on this data collection can be found in the following explanatory text.
The collection of data on acquisition of citizenship is defined by Regulation (EC) No 862/2007, and breakdowns and composition of the EU, EFTA and candidate countries groups are given in the implementing Regulation (EU) No 351/2010.
The following explanatory text provides more information on this data collection.
Resident permits statistics are available as both flows and stocks:
- data on residence permits granted during the reference year (flows) - the data published under this category contain information about first residence permits issued during the reference year and any change of resident status for immigrants during the reference year;
- data on residence permits valid at the end of the reference year (stock of permits) - the data published under this category contain information on the number of valid permissions to stay at the end of the reference year and long-term legal resident status at the end of the reference year.
Residence permit means any authorisation valid for at least 3 months issued by the authorities of an EU Member State that allows a non-EU national to stay legally on its territory.
According to Article 6.2 of Council Regulation (CE) No 862/2007, when an EU Member State's national laws and administrative practices allow for specific categories of long-term visa or immigration status to be granted instead of residence permits, such visas and grants of statuses are also included in these statistics.
First residence permit corresponds to one of the following cases:
- if no residence permit has previously been issued by the EU Member State to the person concerned, a first permit is every permit issued by the EU Member State authority to the non-EU national with at least 3 months validity;
- if a residence permit has previously been issued by the EU Member State to the person concerned, a first permit is a permit issued by the EU Member State authority 6 months or more since the previous permit expired, regardless of the year it is issued and with at least 3 months validity.
Asylum applicant means a person who has submitted an application for international protection or has been included in such an application as a family member during the reference period.
Application for international protection means an application for protection as defined in Art.2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU, i.e. a request made by a non-EU national or stateless person for protection by an EU Member State, who can be understood to seek refugee status or subsidiary protection status, and who does not explicitly request another kind of protection, outside the scope of this Directive, that can be applied for separately.
This definition is intended to refer to all who apply for protection on an individual basis, regardless of (i) whether they lodge their application on arrival at an airport or land border, or from inside the country and (ii) whether they entered the territory legally (e.g. as a tourist) or illegally (see Art4.1 (a) of the Regulation).
First instance decisions consider applications for international protection as well as authorisations to stay for humanitarian reasons, including decisions under priority and accelerated procedures taken by administrative or judicial bodies in EU Member States.
Final decisions are taken by administrative or judicial bodies on appeal or in review and are no longer subject to remedy . The statistics on final decisions refer to what is effectively a final decision: i.e. that all normal routes of appeal have been exhausted.
Usual residence means the place where a person normally sleeps, regardless of temporary absences for purposes of recreation, holidays, visits to friends and relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage; or, if this cannot be proven , it is the place of legal or registered residence. Only the following people are considered to be usual residents in a geographical area:
- those who have lived in their place of usual residence for a continuous period of at least 12 months before the reference time; or
- those who arrived in their place of usual residence during the 12 months before the reference time, with the intention of staying there for at least 1 year.
Acquisition of citizenship is when a person who has their usual residence in an EU Member State is granted citizenship of that country, having previously held the citizenship of another EU or non-EU country or been stateless.
Citizenship means the particular legal bond between an individual and their state, acquired through birth or naturalisation, whether by declaration, choice, marriage or other means according to national legislation.
Since 24 February 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a serious humanitarian crisis and a mass inflow of displaced people from Ukraine who are unable to return to their country or region of origin.
To offer rapid, effective assistance to these people, on 2 March 2022 the Commission proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive. On 4 March 2022, the Council unanimously adopted Decision (EU) 2022/382 introducing temporary protection.
This activated Council Directive 2001/55/EC (Temporary Protection Directive), which lays down the decision-making procedure needed to trigger, extend or end temporary protection. It applies when there is a risk that a mass inflow of claimants could overwhelm the standard asylum system.
Under this Directive, those fleeing the war will be granted temporary protection in the EU, meaning that they will be given a residence permit and will have access to labour markets, education (minors), opportunities for family relocation and social welfare.
With the Council Decision’s entry into force, people who fled from Ukraine may apply for a temporary residence permit as of 4 March 2022. The Council Decision applies to the following categories of people displaced from Ukraine on or after 24 February 2022:
- Ukrainian nationals residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022;
- stateless persons and nationals of non-EU countries other than Ukraine, who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022; and
- family members of the people referred to in the first two categories, even if they are not Ukrainian nationals.
The Temporary Protection Directive lays down uniform rights for the beneficiaries of temporary protection, including:
- a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection (which can last between 1 and 3 years);
- appropriate information on temporary protection;
- access to employment;
- access to accommodation or housing;
- access to social welfare or means of subsistence;
- access to medical treatment;
- access to education for minors;
- opportunities for families to reunite in certain circumstances; and
- guarantees of access to the normal asylum procedure.
Specific rules have been drawn up for unaccompanied minors and for those having undergone particularly traumatic experiences (such as sexual, physical or psychological violence).
Requirements for reporting statistics on temporary protection already exist in Article 4(1)(c) and 4(3)(e) of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007. These will be implemented for the first time with the transmission of data on international protection as follows:
- data for the first quarter of 2022 – due by 31 May 2022
- annual data for 2022 – due by 31 March 2023.
The data on temporary protection for the first quarter of 2022 will be released by Eurostat in June 2022.
Direct access to
- Residence permits - statistics on stock of valid permits at the end of the year
- Residence permits - statistics on first permits issued during the year
- Residence permits – statistics on authorisations to reside and work
- Children in migration - residence permits for family reasons
Population and international migration
- Migration and migrant population statistics
- Children in migration - population and international migration statistics
Acquisition of citizenship
- Residence permits (ESMS metadata file — migr_res_esms)
- Applications (ESMS metadata file — migr_asyapp_esms)
- Decisions on applications and resettlement (ESMS metadata file — migr_asydec_esms)
- Population (ESMS metadata file — demo_pop_esms)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (ESMS metadata file — migr_acqn_esms)
- Temporary protection means an exceptional procedure in the event of a mass inflow or imminent mass inflow of displaced people from non-EU countries who are unable to return to their country of origin. It provides immediate and temporary protection to these people, in particular if there is also a risk that the asylum system will be unable to process this inflow becoming overburdened (in the interests of both the mass of new people and other people requesting protection).