Migration to the EU: current changes in the migration legislation of European countries



Migration to the EU: current changes in the migration legislation of European countries

Today, the world celebrates International Migrants Day. In 2022-2023, the level of migration in European countries reached peak levels. Find out more about how many foreigners currently live in the EU and what changes were made to migration legislation by states in 2023

Get free  information about 200+ countries
Get free information about 200+ countries
Click here

The level of migration in European countries reached its maximum in 2022-2023. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Great Britain received the largest number of expats. The reasons for the increase in the number of migrants were military conflicts, in particular the war in Ukraine, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and an acute shortage of highly qualified personnel.

How many foreigners live in European countries? What changes did the state make to its migration legislation in 2023? On Migrant Day, we will analyze these processes in more detail.

Migration in Europe

Almost 3.7 million new residence permits were issued in European Union (EU) member states in 2022, compared to 2.9 million in 2021 and 3 million in 2019. Also, according to Eurostat, about 4 million Ukrainians in the region have received temporary protection status.

In total, 23.8 million migrants who are not citizens of the member states of the union live in the EU, which is 5.3% of the total population of the bloc. Three quarters of these people live in Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

If we add EU citizens who themselves migrate between different countries, the share of expats living in Europe increases to 12.5%. Luxembourg has the largest percentage of non-citizens among the population (47.1%).

Approximately 40% of migrants who issued a residence permit this year had family ties with a resident of a certain state.

In four EU countries - Croatia, Greece, Lithuania and Romania - emigration is higher than immigration.

1.12 million Europeans left the EU in 2022.

Impact of migrants on demographic indicators in Europe

According to the European Commission, without external migration flows, the population of the EU has significantly decreased, as the number of deaths in the region exceeds the number of births.

At the expense of migrants in the EU, the labor shortage is significantly reduced. In 2022, 9.93 million migrants worked within the bloc's countries, i.e. 5.1% of the labor force. Most of them were involved in the following sectors:

- hotels and restaurants (11.3% of non-EU employees);

- construction (9.1%);

- administrative and support services, such as call centers, logistics and distribution (7.6%);

- help around the house, care for children and the elderly (5.9%).

Planning a trip abroad? An important component of a successful trip is a travel insurance policy, because it guarantees the provision of high-quality medical care in any corner of the world and is able to protect you from unnecessary expenses during the trip.

You can buy insurance from verified agents on the Visit World portal. Go to the link, choose your nationality and country of destination and search for a policy that will meet your requirements.

Actual changes in migration legislation of EU countries

Last year, some EU countries announced more extensive changes and reforms to legal migration policies with the aim of increasing migration to solve the problem of a shortage of skilled labor. Instead, other states are looking for ways to reduce the influx of expats.

Countries that relaxed the requirements for migrants

Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, solving the problem of labor shortages has become a priority in national migration policy programs in most EU countries. Thus, many policy changes in 2022-2023 focused on strengthening and expanding existing labor migration pathways, as well as developing new policies and enabling pathways for labor migration in specific occupations and sectors.

- Spain has reformed its “General Immigration Law” to streamline migration policy procedures, with the aim of overcoming persistent labor shortages and attracting legal migrant workers to the required professions. The reform facilitates and expands access to work permits and streamlines migration processes for different categories of migrants, including students and seasonal workers.

- In March 2023, the German government adopted a draft law on reforming the "Act on Immigration of Skilled Workers in Germany". The reform, passed into law in July, will expand the eligibility criteria for obtaining an EU Blue Card (for example by lowering statutory salary requirements), relax several labor immigration requirements for skilled workers and facilitate the temporary migration of low-skilled workers. A new points-based job search visa is also planned. More details at the link.

- In March 2023, Slovenia amended the law on the employment of foreigners to address labor shortages by accelerating the recruitment of immigrant workers from abroad or by changing their status, ensuring adequate working conditions and fair remuneration. Changing the employer or job will now be possible without any additional administrative procedures, except for the consent of the state employment service and during the validity of the single permit.

- In the Slovak Republic, a new law passed in January 2023 expands the categories of workers exempt from labor market testing and allows non-EU nationals with a single permit to remain in work while their renewal application pending review.

- The French government has put forward a new immigration bill that will ease the legalization process for unregistered workers already in the country and working in sectors with a labor shortage.

Countries that have increased the requirements for migrants

At the same time, the policy of certain countries is aimed at reducing the number of migrants:

- In October 2022, the Swedish government announced a number of changes in legislation aimed at reducing net migration. The proposed reforms include tougher asylum laws, as well as tougher requirements for the immigration of low-skilled workers, including a higher salary threshold and conditions for family reunification. Starting from October 2023, the minimum salary has been doubled from SEK 13,000 to SEK 26,560, which corresponds to 80% of the national average salary.

- Finland's new coalition government, following elections in April 2023, has announced its intention to cut quotas for refugees and family reunification, raise the bar for work-based immigration and impose stricter language and residence requirements for foreigners to obtain citizenship.

- The post-Brexit UK immigration system has aimed to make migration more selective, in particular to limit the migration of low-skilled workers, and to reduce illegal border crossings. We talked in more detail in this article.

European countries that have increased admission quotas to ease labor shortages

Many European countries are raising national quotas or target numbers of immigrant workers to ease labor shortages and support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

- In July 2023, Italy announced dramatically higher quotas for 2023-2025, around 150,000 entries per year, as well as 40,000 additional seasonal entries.

- Austria, among other changes aimed at facilitating labor migration, increased the quota for seasonal workers by about 15% (from 5,035 in 2022 to 6,568 places in 2023).

- Finland – before the change of government – adapted its immigration laws to encourage annual employment immigration to address the skilled labor shortage and introduced a fast-track plan for specialists by extending the long-term D visa for students, researchers and employed expats and their families .

Introduction of electronic travel permit (ETIAS)

In addition, the European Union is actively working on the development of a single European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Previously, the launch was planned by the end of 2023, but it was postponed until May 2025. ETIAS is an electronic travel authorization system that requires people from more than 60 visa-free countries to obtain a travel authorization to enter the Schengen area. Read more here.

Similarly, the UK is introducing an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for people traveling to the country without a visa.

European countries are actively working to change their migration legislation, promote legal migration and increase the number of highly qualified workers in the region.

Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World

To move, travel or work safely in a new country, you will need travel insurance. You can apply for an extended policy on our website here.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Travel guide for 200 countries;

Legal advice from a local specialist on visa and migration issues;

Travel insurance around the world (please select the country of interest and citizenship to receive services);

Medical insurance all over the world.

Photo: © Sergei Chaiko | Dreamstime.com

Recommended articles

3 min

Work The best entry-level jobs for expats: working abroad without experience

The best entry-level jobs for expats: working abroad without experience

If you're looking for a job abroad with no experience, there are a variety of options to consider. However, it is important to keep in mind that each country may have its own requirements and restrictions for foreign workers. Learn more about the best and most popular entry-level jobs for expats

16 Dec. 2023

More details

2 min

Work Top countries in Europe for living and working: highest salaries, conditions, ease of employment

Top countries in Europe for living and working: highest salaries, conditions, ease of employment

Are you planning to start a new life in one of the European countries? Find out more about the top 5 countries in Europe to live and work in, which offer great job opportunities and a healthy work-life balance

13 Dec. 2023

More details

3 min

Expats Useful resources and services in Germany for expats: how to make life abroad easier

Useful resources and services in Germany for expats: how to make life abroad easier

Living abroad, especially in Germany, can be a challenge, but there are a variety of useful resources and services to help you adapt and get the information you need. Learn more about the most popular apps that will make life in Germany easier

15 Dec. 2023

More details

3 min

Investment What is investments: Definition & Types

What is investments: Definition & Types

In today's world, it is difficult to overestimate the role of investments in achieving success and financial stability. Whether you have a dream of starting your own business, expanding an existing company, or improving your personal skills, investments can be a key factor in your journey to achieve your goals. Learn more about how investments work, their benefits and strategies

17 Dec. 2023

More details