Among EU member states, Hungary recorded the highest rate of increase (113%) in the number of residence permits granted to non-EU citizens in 2017, with the stock of valid permits granted standing at 117,026, according to EU statistical agency Eurostat. The highest numbers were issued to citizens of China, Ukraine and Russia.
Hungarian news agency MTI noted that the rise came around the time Hungaryʼs government eased restrictions on employment of non-EU citizens in an effort to manage the labor shortage.
The data show that the stock of valid residence permits issued to citizens of China, including Hong Kong, increased 148% to 37,656 between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017.
The number issued to citizens of Ukraine nearly quadrupled over the period, from 3,428 to 13,196.
The number of valid residence permits issued to Russian nationals jumped to 6,978, from just 113 a year earlier. MTI notes that the sharp rise may be linked to the upgrade of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, which was cleared by the European Commission in 2017. Russiaʼs Rosatom is building two more reactors at Hungaryʼs sole commercial nuclear power station in a project financed, in large part, by the state of Russia.
The stock of valid residence permits issued to Vietnamese nationals was up 183% at 4,833, and the stock of residence permits issued to citizens of Iran was up 45% at 4,211.
Permits issued to Serbian nationals rose 25% to 4,161, while the number climbed 31% to 4,113 for citizens of the United States. The stock of valid residence permits was up 67% to 3,258 for Turkish nationals.
Apart from Hungary, where the number of residence permits issued to non-EU nationals more than doubled, the highest rates were registered in Bulgaria (41%), Malta (25%), and Slovakia (21%), according to Eurostatʼs data.
At the end of 2017, there were a total of 20.3 million valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens permitting them to reside in an EU member state. Germany (23%), Italy (18%), France (14%), Spain (13%) and the United Kingdom (8%) accounted for three-quarters of all valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens.
The stock of valid residence permits issued to non-EU citizens rose by 5% between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017, with the majority (21) of EU member states reporting an increasing number of valid permits.
Among the five member states with the largest stocks of resident permits, Germany recorded the highest increase, where the number of valid permits rose by 14% between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. Increases were also registered in France, Spain and the U.K.
Among the top five countries, only Italy recorded a reduction in the stock of valid permits (-3%). Among all EU members, there were five other countries reporting a decline in issued permits: Estonia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Greece, and Romania.
Almost two-fifths (38%) of all valid residence permits at the end of 2017 were issued for family-related reasons, with lower shares for reasons of employment (16%), refugee status and subsidiary protection (7%), or education (6%).