New residence permits issued in the European Union, as well as in Cyprus, to non-EU citizens in 2021 reached pre-pandemic levels, according to data on first residence permits published by Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU.
In 2021, 2,952,300 first residence permits (i.e. permits issued to a person for the first time) were issued in the EU to non-EU citizens. The number increased by 31% (or 693,700) compared with 2020, reaching the pre-pandemic level observed in 2019 (2,955,300).
A total of 22,190 new residence permits were issued in Cyprus in 2021. Most of these were issued to citizens of Russia (3,432), Syria (2,929), India (2,744), Nepal (2,628), the Philippines (1,784), Sri Lanka (1,496) and Ukraine (1,133).
In 2020, a total of 16,910 new permits were issued in Cyprus (mainly for citizens of India, Russia, Nepal, Syria, the Philippines and Sri Lanka). In 2019, a total of 23,325 permits were issued (mainly for citizens of India, Russia, Nepal, Syria, the Philippines and Sri Lanka).
A total of 9,800 new residence permits in Cyprus in 2021 were issued for employment reasons (mainly to citizens of Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India), 6,085 for other reasons, including international protection (mainly to citizens of Syria and Russia), 3,281 for education-related reasons (mainly to citizens of India, Nepal and Bangladesh) and 3,024 for family reasons (mainly to citizens of Russia and Ukraine).
Most first residence permits issued in Poland
Employment reasons accounted for 45% of all first residence permits issued in 2021, with 1.3 million permits. This represents an increase of 47% (429,100 persons) compared with 2020. It is also the highest number of permits issued for employment reasons since the beginning of the time series.
Family reasons accounted for 24%, education reasons for 12%, while other reasons, including international protection, accounted for 19%.
Besides the increase in the number of residence permits issued for employment-related reasons, the other main reasons recorded also an increase in 2021 compared with 2020: 42% for education-related reasons ( an increase of 105.000 persons), 14% for family reasons (88.600 increase) and 15% for other reasons, including international protection (71.000 increase).
In 2021, Poland issued a third of all first residence permits granted in the EU to non-EU citizens (967,300, or 33% of total permits issued in the EU), followed by Spain (371,800, or 13%) and France (285,200, or 10%).
The largest relative increase in the total number of permits issued in 2021 when compared with 2020 was an increase of 159% recorded in Italy (from 105,700 in 2020 to 274,100 in 2021). Italy was followed by Finland (132% increase, from 24,800 to 57,300) and Poland (62% increase, from 598,000 to 967,300).
The only decreases in the total number of permits issued in 2021 when compared with 2020 were recorded in Germany (a 41% decrease from 312,700 in 2020 to 185,200 in 2021), Lithuania (7% decrease from 22,500 to 21,000) and Croatia (4% decrease from 35,100 to 33,600).
Reason for residence permits per country
Poland topped the list of employment-related first residence permits, with 790,100 permits issued in 2021, making up 27% of all first permits issued in the EU, and was also the top country in the EU issuing residence permits for other reasons, with 120,500 permits (4%) issued in 2021.
France issued the most education-related permits (90,600 permits, or 3%).
The EU countries with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2021 were Spain (159,200, or 5%), Italy (120,500, or 4%) and France (93,300, or 3%).
Most new residence permits for Ukrainians
A total of 875,800 Ukrainians received first residence permits in the EU countries in 2021, making them the largest citizenship group among all recipients (of which 83% were issued by Poland).
Citizens of Morocco (150,100 permits, of which 50% were issued in Spain) and Belarus (149,000, of which 88% were issued in Poland) followed. Citizens of these countries accounted for 40% of all first residence permits issued in 2021.
The top 10 citizenships granted permits in the EU accounted for 57% of all first residence permits issued in 2021: these were the citizenships of Ukraine, Morocco, Belarus, India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, China, Syria and the USA.
Employment was the main reason for permits issued in 2021 to Ukrainians (88% of all first residence permits), Belarusians (47%), Indians (41%) and Russians (35%).
Family was the prevailing reason for permits granted to Moroccans (59%), Brazilians (41%) and Turks (33%).
Permits for education were primarily issued to Chinese citizens, including citizens of Hong Kong (43%), and citizens of the United States (32%).
Other reasons, which include the granting of international protection, were predominant for Syrian citizens (74%).