Migrant Integration Governance in Poland
Immigration has never exceeded emigration in Poland. Despite the ever-increasing stock of foreigners in recent years, the number of nationals leaving the country continues to be higher.
On 1 January 2017, 184 490 non-EU foreigners were legally residing in Poland. They represented 1% of the total population. 126 204 of them had valid temporary residence permits and 58 286 were permanent residents.
In 2016, out of 86 834 of temporary residence permits issued, 65% were for work, 14% for studies and 12% for family reunion. Most came from neighbouring states Ukraine and Belarus, as citizens of both countries have easy access to the Polish labour market on the basis of the employers’ declarations (no work permit required) or to the so-called Card of the Pole (to be acquired through Polish ancestry or proven ties with the country).
4 569 people were naturalised in Poland in 2016 but there are no statistics available on the overall stock of TCNs who have acquired Polish citizenship.
To integrate or foster the social inclusion of populations with a migrant background, Poland does not have a dedicated national integration strategy. Though the country published Proposals of Actions Aimed At Establishing a Comprehensive Immigrant Integration Policy in Poland in 2005.
The lack of national integration policy is somewhat compensated by the increasing cooperation between cities affiliated to the Union of Polish Metropolises and the multiplication of local integration policies in the recent months. The city of Gdansk is a pioneer in the field.
Recognised refugees and foreigners granted subsidiary protection are the only target groups of the Individual Integration Programmes introduced in 1998 and currently regulated by the 2004 Act on Social Assistance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The Programmes last up to 12 months and provide specialised counselling to beneficiaries of international protection. The main part of the programme consists of financial support aimed at covering their living cost and paying for language classes.
☒ language courses
☒ civic education
☒ vocational training
No national level evaluation of the Individual Integration Programmes has been conducted so far. However, the Mazowieckie Province Governor’s Office prepares periodical internal evaluation reports. It concluded in 2015 that the one-year period is too short for foreigners to gain sufficient levels of knowledge of the Polish language, be able to participate in local vocational trainings and to find well-paid jobs that give them financial independence. The report also pointed out the unavailability of cheap housing (the waiting time for social housing can last several years) as a major barrier to social integration.
Prior to this internal evaluation, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Association for Legal Intervention conducted an assessment of the Individual Programmes, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The document entitled Poland’s stop. The analysis of individual integration programmes for refugees revealed similar findings. Moreover, the authors of the analysis pointed to the need for more individualised programmes with a more active role of refugees in creating the content of the programmes.
☑ Foreigners Law
The Polish Act on Foreigners of 12 December 2013 lays down the principles and conditions governing entry into, transit through, residence on and departure from the Polish territory. No major amendments have been made so far.
☑ Asylum Law
The Act of 13 June 2003 regulates the granting of all forms of international protection and provides for social assistance for its beneficiaries. 2 major amendments respectively introduced the status of subsidiary protection in 2008 and the principles of resettlement and relocation in 2011.
☒ Integration Law
Poland does not have a self-standing integration law.
Chapter 5 of the Act on social assistance, adopted in March 2004, regulates the Individual Integration Programmes for beneficiaries of international protection. An amendment of 2008 granted beneficiaries of subsidiary protection the right to participate in the one-year programmes which were previously reserved for recognised refugees.
☑ Nationality Law
The Act on Polish citizenship of 2 April 2009 regulates ways of acquiring and losing the Polish citizenship. In 2017, a major amendment granting foreigners the right to apply for citizenship after one year of residence on the basis of a permanent residence permit issued in connection with ‘Polish origin’ or a valid Card of the Pole. Previously, the waiting period was of respectively 2 and 3 years.
The Act of 3 December 2010 implementing certain EU regulations concerning equal treatment specifies areas and methods of counteracting violations on equal treatment. It covers discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, denomination, beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation. No major amendments have been made so far.
On the one hand, the Department of Social Assistance and Integration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy leads the governance of integration issues in Poland. It implements the Ministry’s policy and represent Poland at the European Integration Network and coordinates the Inter-Ministerial Working Group for the Integration of Foreigners.
Local authorities on the other hand are responsible for the education of foreign children and the provision of social assistance through social assistance centres. They furthermore implement the Individual Integration Programmes through local centres for family support. In big cities, they also provide funding to NGOs dealing with immigrant integration.
Poland does not have a consultative body on integration. However, the International Organization for Migration, in partnership with the Ministry of the Interior, initiated a National Platform of Cooperation for Integration in 2009. The Platform promotes information and experience exchanges between integration stakeholders such as government representatives, trade unions, employers' organisations, media, NGOs and immigrant associations. Its meeting conclusions have contributed in the development of legislative and political strategies for the integration of immigrants in Poland.
Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing through several funds. EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) is the most important one in terms of budget. Although NGOs’ access to this fund has been limited recently. Coordinated by the Department For Border Policy and International Funds of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, the national allocation for Poland under AMIF is € 63.4 million. 18% of this amount is allocated to asylum and 57% to integration. Creating a national integration strategy is one of the integration priorities presented in the Polish AMIF programmes. Other priorities include strengthening language education and preventing hate crime.
In addition, national and private funds are made available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming for a better integration of the migrant population.
|Public funding||Private funding|
☑ Providing integration services
- Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights: free legal assistance to refugees and migrants
- Association for Legal Intervention: free legal advice to all, including foreigners
- The Halina Nieć Legal Aid Centre: free legal counselling to persons at risk of social exclusion and discrimination
- Caritas Poland's Centres for Migrants’ and Refugees’ Support: social, psychological and legal assistance
- Foundation for Development Beyond Borders: legal counselling
- Salvation Foundation: comprehensive direct support to foreigners (e.g. psychological assistance, legal counselling, help in searching for an apartment or a job, etc.) and conducting intercultural trainings for public officers.
☑ Implementing Integration Programme
- Family support centres (Powiatowe centra pomocy rodzinie)
- Municipal institutions responsible for implementing the Individual Integration Programmes for foreigners granted international protection.
☑ Advocacy and campaigning
- International Organization for Migration
- Polish Migration Forum (migrant rights and intercultural dialogue)
- Foundation for Social Development (diversity and intercultural dialogue)
- The Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center