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Umbrella Inform - The impact of COVID-19 in the migration area in EU and OECD countries

The European Migration Network (EMN) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a new 'umbrella inform' detailing the impact of COVID-19 in the migration area. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) also provided input.

This publication completes a joint EMN and OECD inform series (details below) focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on migration and asylum in EU Member States and non-EU OECD countries throughout 2020.

The document provides updates on changes in border procedures, provision of COVID-19 related healthcare services to migrants, the shifting landscape of the labour market, international protection, international students and return issues.

Key findings shared in the publication include the following:

  • The pandemic affected entry conditions and the issuance of residence permits by EU Member States and Norway, which introduced restrictions on in-person migration services. Similarly, in non-EU OECD countries electronic tools and online systems were commonly used;
  • Automatic extensions of residence permits, tolerated stays, and/or the suspension/extension of procedural deadlines were introduced throughout 2020 in EU and non-EU OECD countries;
  • Continued admission to the territory was ensured for those working in essential occupational sectors (e.g. health; agriculture; transport) in order to meet labour market needs across EU and non-EU OECD countries;
  • New tools and processes used in asylum and reception systems in the immediate response to the pandemic - such as emergency shelters, isolation areas and remote interviews - now represent an emerging ‘new normal’. This brings new challenges in guaranteeing effective and fair asylum procedures;
  • Some EU Member States reported a substantial decrease in the number of new international students during the COVID-19 pandemic period. Physical presence on campuses was mostly discouraged, and international students were often allowed to return home and continue their studies remotely; 
  • Forced return from EU Member States and in non-EU OECD countries was heavily impacted due to the difficulty of organising return flights to third countries. Return counselling and other pre-departure services were moved to online communication formats.

Find the full report attached below, or access it online here. Find a 'flash' version of the publication here. Further information and related publications can be found on the EMN publications page.


There are five other publications in this inform series. They examine:

  • how states managed residence permits and migrant unemployment during the crisis - available here;
  • the pandemic's effect on international students - available here;
  • maintaining labour migration in essential sectors - available here;
  • the pandemic's effect on remittances - available here;
  • the pandemic's effect on voluntary and forced return procedures - available here.


European Migration Network & Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Posted by:
Olivia Long (Migration Policy Group)