Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.1.2007 | Von:
Stefan Alscher

The Immigrant Population

It is extremely difficult to quantify Poland's foreign population as there is hardly any official data concerning the "stocks", in other words, the total number of foreigners in Poland.

One of the few sources is the 2002 census, which estimates the number of foreigners living in Poland at just 49 221 people. This would correspond to just 0.1% of the total population. According to the census, the most widely represented nationalities in 2002 were Ukrainians (9 881; 20%), Russians (4 325; 8.8%), Germans (3 711; 7.5%), Belarusians (2 852; 5.8%), and Vietnamese (2 093; 4.3%). Overall, citizens of southeast European countries and the states of the former Soviet Union (excluding the Baltic countries) accounted for at least 44% of the foreign population in Poland (see table). In general, however, independent experts consider the census numbers, as well as the government population statistics for foreigners, to be too low.

By contrast, the International Migration Report 2006 produced by the UN Population Division estimates the number of foreigners living in Poland to be 703 000 (2005), corresponding to 1.8% of the total population.

Origin of foreigners in Poland, census 20025*
Southeastern Europe / former USSR21.67044,0%
EU 25 / EEA11.82124,0%
Not specified2.8565,8%
Source: Polish Central Statistical Office (Główny Urząd Statystyczny), cited in Kępińska
* The EU/EEA group also contains ten new member states; (b) The three Baltic States have not been included in the numbers for the Soviet Union. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are included in the EU/EEA group; (c) Not all foreigners are categorised according to citizenship in the census breakdown.

Residence permits

Since the reforms concerning the residence of EU citizens, five categories of residence permit have been in place. In 2005 there were a total of 42 380 applications for residence permits, of which 38 512 (91%) were approved: 22 626 renewable temporary permits were issued to third-country nationals for a stay of longer than three months, and 3 589 settlement permits were awarded. In addition, 2 183 temporary residence permits for stays of three to twelve months were awarded to EU citizens in 2005, as were 10 077 EU residence permits for stays of more than one year and 37 long-term settlement permits.

Due to the introduction of new residence permit categories, it is no longer possible to make a longer-term comparison between current data and permits that were issued previously. In the period between January and August 2006, 27.3% of the total number of residence permits issued were granted to EU citizens, primarily German (13.5%), while 38% of residence permits went to citizens of states of the former Soviet Union, in particular Ukrainians (25%). The largest percentage of residence permits granted to non-European states went to the Vietnamese (approx. 6%).

If we look at the years 1998 to 2003 – that is, prior to the introduction of permits for EU citizens – Ukrainians were granted 42.8% of all temporary residence permits. Where longer-term residence permits (then known as "fixed-term residence permits") and settlement permits were concerned, however, the percentage issued to Ukrainian citizens came to just 22.6% and 25.3%, respectively. This discrepancy is primarily due to the fact that many Ukrainians come to Poland for temporary jobs, even though their temporary residence status generally does not permit them to take on work.

Since the 2001 legal reform, persons applying for a permanent residence permit must prove, among other things, that they have had a temporary residence permit for five years (before 2001 it was three years), and that they have sufficient financial means. As access to the labour market has been handled very restrictively until now, it has not often been possible to prove sufficient financial means and thus acquire a permanent residence permit. However, on 1 June 2004 a legal reform [1] came into force that should make gaining access to the labour market easier for specific groups, including holders of statutory temporary suspensions of deportation, foreign spouses of Poles, recognised refugees, and, pursuant to a further reform in force since autumn 2005, asylum applicants whose papers could not be processed within a year.

Residence permits according to citizenship (10 most common in 2005)
Country of citizenshipZahl
1. Ukraine9.824
2. Germany6.125
3. Belarus2.407
4. Vietnam1.876
5. Russian Federation1.849
6. Armenia1.529
7. France1.079
8. United Kingdom835
9. USA832
10. India673
Source: Office for Repatriation and Aliens (URIC), cited in Kępińska (2006)


Act on Promotion of Employment and Institutions of the Labour Market; cf. Dziennik Ustaw (Journal of Law), 2004, No. 99, item 1001.


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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