Migrant Integration Governance in Slovakia
The presence of people with foreign background in Slovakia has tripled since the country’s accession to the EU: from 22 108 in May 2004 to 93 247 in 2016. And the subsequent economic growth continues to attract low-qualified workers today. Slovakia has however not become a country of immigration, as arrivals remain lower than departures.
On 1 January 2017, there were 41 232 Third Country Nationals (TCNs) legally residing in the Slovak Republic. They represented less than 1% of the total population, according to the Ministry of Interior and the Statistical Office.
Most came from Ukraine, Serbia and Russia. Slovakia also has strong Asian communities from Vietnam, China and Korea. 26 590 of these non-EU foreigners had valid temporary residence permits, 14 347 were permanent residents and 295 had “tolerated” residence status.
In 2016, out of the overall stock of valid temporary residence permits, 23% were for family reunification, 18% for entrepreneurship, 13% for employment and 12% for studies. The First purpose of stay however remains “Foreign Slovaks” (29%) granted to non-nationals with Slovak ancestors.
In addition to the foreign population, there are Slovak nationals with third country background; 281 of which acquired citizenship in 2016.
To integrate or foster the social inclusion of these populations, Slovakia adopted its first policy document detailing its strategy for migrant integration governance in 2014. The Integration Policy of the Slovak Republic targets legal economic migrants, beneficiaries of international protection and second generation migrants. It identifies areas of integration where policy measures are to be taken. Among them, access to rental housing, healthcare, citizenship and labour market are considered crucial. The strategy also wants to improve the media representation of migrants. 2 Actions Plans (2014 – 2016 and 2017 – 2018) elaborate measures to be taken to reach its objectives.
The integration governance strategy partially draws from the Migration Policy of the Slovak Republic: Perspective until 2020 adopted in 2011. More recently, the Ministry of Labour adopted a strategy on labour mobility of foreigners in October 2018. Some sections of the strategy cover the integration of economic migrants, including measures to facilitate the recognition of their education, an increased role of local integration and the update of both the Migration Policy and the Integration Policy.
There is currently no Integration Programme for third-country nationals in Slovakia but the Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior is preparing a State Integration Program for Beneficiaries of International Protection. In the meantime, EU-funded projects carried out by NGOs under the supervision of the Migration Office offer a set of activities and a wide range of services to beneficiaries of international protection. In order to receive financial support to cover accommodation costs and basic needs, they must attend a number of activities of the so-called Integration Project, mainly language courses and employment counselling. Once they receive the allowance, participation in the integration activities becomes obligatory. In addition to counselling and psychological support, the Project includes:
þ language courses
þ civic education
þ vocational training
Since 2014, 3 administrative reports have summarised goals and measures the Integration Policy has achieved. They enumerate activities and fulfillments for every year. These completion reports are adopted annually by the government and publicly available. The first concluded that most initial activities had been carried. The identification of migrants as a target group in the national housing strategy, making them entitled to rental housing, was for example cited as a crucial step.
The second and third administrative reports followed the same structure. The latest highlighted steps taken by public institutions and local authorities towards a cross-cutting and mainstreamed migration and integration agenda.
þ Foreigners Law
Act 404/2011 on the Residence of Aliens was last amended by Act 179/2017 which introduces restrictive measures for students. For example, temporary residence for the purpose of study can now only be acquired by students who are younger than 20 years on the day of submitting the application.
þ Asylum Law
Act on Asylum 480/2002 was last amended by Act 125/2016 which has a rather technical character, as it amends more than 150 legal enactments and harmonises legal norms with procedural juridical institutions.
ý Integration Law
Slovakia does not have a self-standing integration law. The Strategic document Integration policy of the Slovak Republic was approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Slovak Republic No. 45 of 29 January 2014.
þ Nationality Law
Act 40/1993 Coll regulates the acquisition of Citizenship.
Act 365/2004 guarantees equal treatment and protects against discrimination.
The Migration and Integration of Foreigners Unit of the International Relations and European Affairs Department at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family is the authority responsible for the migrant integration governance in the Slovak Republic. However, the elaboration and implementation of the Integration Policy is the result of a cross sectional cooperation between several public institutions. Certain measures of this Policy are also implemented in cooperation with the non-governmental sector.
In addition, local authorities provide social care, education and other types of support to all vulnerable groups, including migrants. They do not necessarily identify the latter as target groups yet but this is changing, as the 2014 Integration Strategy obliges them to develop local integration strategies. The document highlights the future crucial role of both local authorities and self-governing regions, and identifies better cooperation between all levels of governance as key a goal in the areas of data collection and support provision.
Furthermore, the Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior plays a significant role in the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. It employs 2 Integration Managers whose task is to facilitate communication with public institutions providing services, as well as to cooperate with NGOs implementing the Integration Project and other stakeholders.
There are no consultative bodies on integration in Slovakia. NGOs mostly provide services. However, independent experts from the non-governmental sector such as representatives of the International Organization for Migration, the Milan Šimečka Foundation or the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture were involved in the design of the 2014 Integration Strategy. They are currently also helping municipal actors develop capacities in the integration of third-country nationals.
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. Coordinated by the Ministry of Interior, the national allocation for Slovakia under AMIF is € 13 076 477. 34,9 % of this sum is allocated to integration. Ease migrants’ and asylum seekers’ access to services is the main integration priority of the Slovak AMIF programme.
In addition to EU funds, national and private funds are available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming to support vulnerable groups, including migrants.
|Public funders||Private funders|
þ Providing integration services
- International Organization for Migration operates migration information centres in Bratislava and Košice
- Human Rights League provides a variety of services including legal counselling
þ Implementing Integration Project
þ Campaigning and awareness raising
- International Organization for Migration
- Milan Šimečka Foundation
- Human Rights League (debates, workshops, conferences, training)