Skip to main content
European Website on Integration logo
European Website on Integration

Governance of migrant integration in Hungary

In the second half of the 1980s, ethnic Hungarians fleeing from the Romanian dictatorship migrated to Hungary. During the same period, the number of non-European immigrants (especially from China) to Hungary started to increase significantly. For two decades, between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, this pattern did not change: most immigrants arrived from neighboring states.

Although the volume of labour and student immigration has increased since 2015, the presence of third-country nationals (TCNs) remains marginal and increasingly politically contested in Hungary.

The statistics in the chart above are based on Eurostat's Non-national population by group of citizenship, 1 January 2020, with third-country nationals (TCNs) counting 121,100 and representing 1.2% of Hungary’s population. EU citizens made up 0.8%.

Most migrants arrive from the neighbouring states of Serbia and Ukraine as labour immigrants. Hungary also attracts a high number of Chinese citizens, mainly entrepreneurs, maintaining a well-established transnational economy. 

In 2019, of the 62,073 first-time resident permits issued, 16.4% were for studies, 62.6% for economic activities and 6.9% for family reunification.

Integration strategy

Hungary’s Migration Strategy for the period 2014-2020 guides the country’s actions for the integration of migrant populations into Hungarian society. The strategy document mainly emphasises migrants’ rights and duties in Hungary. It focuses on providing support services, legal assistance and representation in all phases of the asylum procedure, with special emphasis on vulnerable persons.

Although the strategy foresaw the introduction of a more comprehensive integration programme, this did not happen during the course of its run.

Integration programme

Hungary does not have an integration programme for newcomers.

In 2014, the government introduced a support system for refugees and persons under subsidiary protection which established an integration contract for refugees. In this framework, beneficiaries of international protection were encouraged to sign a tripartite integration contract with a local Family Support Centre and the Office of Immigration and Nationality. The contract set forward personal integration targets. During a maximum of 2 years, beneficiaries were further entitled to a monthly cash allowance based on their household size. The scheme was however cancelled in June 2016.

For foreign pupils, an intercultural pedagogical programme was published in 2005. It enabled primary and secondary schools to develop and maintain extracurricular education activities for pupils of migrant background to help them learn the Hungarian language and catch up with the school curriculum. Although never officially cancelled or replaced by another programme, this scheme has not been active for over a decade.

Evaluation

There is no official mainstreamed evaluation of migrant integration in Hungary.

However, research accessing specific areas or target groups' integration levels is available. The Hungarian Central Statistical Office, for example, conducted a survey in the second quarter of 2014 to collect data on the extent to which TCNs participate in the Hungarian labour market. Results showed that their unemployment rate was lower than that of nationals, but that migrant women tend to face more difficulties in finding employment. The 2016 microcensus also assessed the employment and social situation of immigrants in Hungary.

The EU-funded research project Assessing Integration Measures for Vulnerable Migrant Groups (ASSESS) concluded that little public support is provided to migrants, including vulnerable persons, to guide them through the wide range of provisions and services they are eligible to. The issue of migrant integration remains marginal and is not dealt with beyond the EU requirements for EU funds, the authors added.

In 2016 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assessed the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in Hungary through a series of qualitative interviews. The research found that despite existing employment opportunities, most beneficiaries of international protection live in rather precarious circumstances in Hungary, with especially dire housing conditions.

Data from the MIPEX and NIEM research projects on integration indicators show that integration of third country nationals and refugees mainly aims at ensuring the minimal level of acceptable legal rights and mainstream entitlements, and that there are no targeted integration measures in place.

Legislation

Law on foreigners

Act II of 2007 on the admission and residence of TCNs establishes the basic conditions for the right of entry and stay linked to the different types of short- and long-term (or permanent) residence permits, as well as the grounds for restricting or denying these rights. The Act has undergone several amendments, usually to transpose EU immigration legislation.

Asylum law

Act LXXX of 2007 was adopted to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of displaced persons. It establishes the conditions for the granting of asylum, subsidiary protection, temporary protection and other humanitarian grounds for stay. It also regulates the proceedings for granting and withdrawing recognition of such statuses.

The most recent major amendment were adopted in June 2016, March 2017, and May 2020. The first cancelled the Integration Contract and Support scheme for beneficiaries of international protection, and the second established special "transit zones" - places for asylum seekers to stay in while their status was determined by the authorities. Finally, the third amendment cancelled these zones, making it impossible for a person to ask for asylum unless they had already submitted a declaration of will at the Hungarian consulates in Belgrade and Kiyv.

Integration law

Hungary does not have a self-standing integration law.

Citizenship law

Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian citizenship aims to strengthen the attachment and devotion of Hungarian citizens to Hungary. It promotes the unification of citizenship within a family and aims at reducing cases of statelessness. The act regulates the acquiring (and termination) of Hungarian citizenship by right, naturalisation or other lawful means. It was substantially amended in 2010, making it possible for non-Hungarian citizens whose ascendants were Hungarian or who are able to substantiate that they are of Hungarian origin to be naturalised on preferential terms, even if they do not or have never legally resided in Hungary.

Anti-discrimination law

Act CXXV of 2003 on equal treatment and opportunities aims to provide effective legal protection to those subjected to discrimination. It states that the promotion of equal opportunities is a duty of the state. The act determines the grounds in which discrimination may occur, and defines the potential actors and applicable areas (employment, social security and health care, housing, education and training, and good and services). It regulates the procedures which may be initiated following a violation of the principle of equal treatment, defining the role of the Equal Treatment Authority and its advisory board.

In January 2021, however, the authority lost its independent status and became a department of the Ombudsman’s Office.  

Public authorities

Given that migrant integration is not a self-standing policy area, all governmental actors are likely to be involved in areas of integration relating to their competences. However, in practice, the interior ministry and the General Directorate of Aliens Policing could be considered as leading authorities of the field.

The role of local authorities is not officially established. They however occasionally engage in projects related to the integration of migrants and beneficiaries of international protection.

Civil society

There is no consultative body on integration in Hungary.

In view of the little public support provided to migrants to guide them through the services they are eligible to, migrant integration activities and research are mainly project-based and conducted by NGOs active in the area.

Funding

Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing through several EU funds; however, funds administered by the government are not open for integration-related projects.

In addition, national and private funds are made available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects dedicated to the integration of migrants. In recent years, UNHCR has become the only funder of direct integration services to beneficiaries of international protection. Occasionally, the government provides funding for the integration of particular groups of immigrants such as Venezuelans of Hungarian origin, as well as persecuted Christian families relocated from Middle-Eastern and South-Asian countries.

The information below will be updated once the 2021-2027 national programmes under the EU funds become available.

EU funds

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in Hungary

  • Details: The allocation for Hungary under AMIF for the 2014-2020 period is €34,5 million.  National integration priorities include developing a national integration strategy and local integration plans aimed at facilitating TCN’s access to the labour market, improving their image and promoting intercultural dialogue. However, due to a partial suspension of the AMIF national programme, integration-related funding has not been available since July 2018. Hungarian AMIF programme.
  • National managing authority: The national managing authority for AMIF in Hungary is the interior ministry’s Department of Support Coordination.

European Social Fund (ESF) in Hungary

Other EU funds for integration available in Hungary

ERASMUS+, the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe

National managing authority: TEMPUS Közalapítvány

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the EU by correcting regional imbalances

National managing authority: the Ministry of Finance’s State Secretariat for the Use of European Union Resources

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), offering material assistance to the most vulnerable or in need

National managing authority: the Ministry of Human Capacities’s State Secretariat for European Union Development Policy

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), supporting the development of rural economies and communities

National managing authority: State Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development

Other funds

Other stakeholders and useful resources

Providing integration services

Implementing the integration programme

NA

Campaigning

Publishing statistics

Related content

More content