How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
Receiving around 250,000 immigrants per year, Canada has one of the highest annual immigration-to-population ratios in the world. Cultural, education and social policies, including language training and orientation courses, support the integration of immigrants. Canada also allows immigrants to become citizens after three years of residency, one of the shortest residency requirements in the world. The high educational attainment of immigrants, the highest in the world with around half of immigrants having university educations, also facilitates integration.

Nevertheless, these policies do have weaknesses, as seen by the relatively poor labor market performance of recent immigrants and immigrants’ high rate of return to their countries of origin. A CSLS study found that, in 2018, the hourly wage of immigrants to Canada with less than five years of residence averaged just 82% of the hourly wage of people born in Canada. However, this was up from 78% in 2010, so progress is being made. The relative wage for university educated recent immigrants was even worse, 70% in 2018, but up from 65% in 2010. The labor market integration of immigrants is impeded by a number of factors, including difficulties faced by immigrants in having their professional credentials recognized by Canadian authorities, the concentration of immigrants in a small number of major cities (e.g., Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal) and language barriers.
Andrew Sharpe (2019) “Labor Market Performance of Immigrants in Canada, 2006-2018,” CSLS Research Report, forthcoming (Ottawa: Centre for the Study of Living Standards).
In previous SGI reporting periods, we noted that the recent economic crisis had been accompanied by a decrease in immigration. This pattern reversed in 2016 for the first time since 2010, with the total immigrant population increasing by 2.3% in 2016 to 397,731 people. This increase accelerated in 2017, with an increase of 6% compared to the previous year and with the legal immigrant population reaching 421,711 people. This upward trend is likely to continue into 2018.

In previous reports, we noted that Portugal has a welcoming policy framework for migrants. The country ranked second in the European Union in the 2015 Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) in terms of most favorable migrant-integration policies. While the MIPEX has not been updated, existing evidence suggests that this continues to be the case. The recent OSCE Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual highlights a number of good practices in Portugal, notably in terms of the coordination of migrant integration; generating a more integrated framework across the national and local levels; providing language courses to migrants; and developing mentoring programs for migrants involving companies, municipalities and institutions.

In April 2018, parliament approved several amendments to the naturalization laws. Overall, these changes make naturalization easier. For example, children of migrants gained the right to nationality at birth if one of the parents had been legally in the country at the time of birth for two years (down from five years previously). Furthermore, the amount of time necessary for naturalization of a legal migrant was reduced from six years to five years and children of illegal migrants born in Portugal can gain citizenship under certain fairly easy to achieve conditions.

Portugal has sought to be a leader at the EU level with regard to refugees and migrants, advocating a liberal position. It has consistently shown a willingness to take in refugees and a government statement in June 2018 indicated that Portugal had received the sixth highest number of refugees as part of the EU resettlement program. Likewise, it was one of four countries that welcomed migrants from the Aquarius ship, which had been denied access to Italian ports in September 2018.
Lei Orgânica nº 2/2018 [Law no. 2/2018], available online at:

Migrant Integration Policy Index, “Key Findings – Portugal 2015,” available online at:

Ministério da Administração Interna (2018), “Dia Mundial do Refugiado – nota à comunicação social,” available online at:

OSCE (2018), Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual, available online at:
Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
Relative to its population size, Australia has maintained one of the largest immigration programs of any established democracy in the post-World War II era. Over one-fifth of the population is foreign-born. Successful integration of immigrants has therefore been a policy priority for much of Australia’s history. In general, Australia has and continues to be highly successful in integrating immigrants. The most important contributor to this success has been a highly selective immigration policy. Most migrants are selected on the basis of their skills and English language ability. Post-migration, explicit integration efforts primarily consist of encouraging immigrants to apply for citizenship. The combination of a steadily growing economy and the exclusion of migrants from welfare payments in the first two years after their arrival has meant most migrants find employment. Australia is more successful than most OECD countries regarding the integration of migrants into the labor market. The effect has been a swift integration into Australian society. The selection of migrants and limited access to welfare payments, combined with a cosmopolitan society, have demonstrated above average success.

However, concerns have arisen in recent years about the large number of temporary skilled immigrants, many from island states in the South Pacific. Historically, immigration in Australia has been conceived as permanent resettlement, and the phenomenon of large numbers of temporary immigrants is relatively new, only taking on significant proportions this century. Granting of temporary migrant visas peaked around 2014, when more than 100,000 visas were issued. By its nature, the temporary-immigration program is not geared toward long-term integration of immigrants, creating some potential for breakdown in social cohesion. However, in the last several years, the government has introduced regulations and fees which have reduced the number of temporary visas issued.

Despite Australia’s relatively open immigration policy, an ongoing concern relates to asylum-seekers who have arrived, usually on boats from Southeast Asia. Mandatory detention was introduced for asylum-seekers in the 1990s, and offshore processing of asylum-seekers was reinstated in 2012. Following the 2013 election, the coalition introduced Operation Sovereign Borders, under which the Australian navy prevents all vessels containing asylum-seekers from reaching Australia. While politically very controversial, the policy appears to have been effective in dramatically reducing the number of asylum-seekers attempting to arrive by boat. Tight control of Australia’s borders arguably strengthens the political support for continued high levels of skilled and business immigration.
According to new data, 23.6% of the people living in Germany have a migrant background. While Germany already had an extremely liberal regime for migrants from other EU member states, labor migration from non-EU countries has also been liberalized. According to the OECD in 2013, these reforms “put Germany among the OECD countries with the fewest restrictions on labor migration for highly skilled occupations.” Nevertheless, there is an ongoing public debate about the need to modernize immigration legislation further.

When the number of refugees claiming asylum in Germany far exceeded prior levels in 2015, the topic of immigration and integration became a priority issue among the public. Asylum applications numbered 127,525 in 2018, 187,226 in 2017, 745,545 in 2016 and 476,649 in 2015. Although a majority of the population initially appeared to welcome the government’s open approach, skepticism increased as the numbers of refugees claiming asylum remained high, and safety and crime concerns grew (in particular following the 2015 New Year’s Eve incidents in Cologne, where numerous migrants were arrested for sexual assault and robbery). Furthermore, xenophobic parties (e.g., the AfD) quickly began to organize an opposition to the arrival of refugees. The AfD gained seats in all state parliaments and became the third strongest party in the Bundestag following the elections in 2017, though none of the traditional democratic parties are willing to cooperate with it. Initially, the government lacked a comprehensive crisis management strategy. However, after disputes between the coalition parties, the government started to develop a more consistent strategy with substantial financial support for states and municipalities, the provision of early integration and language courses, and special support for child refugees traveling without their parents.

The long-term challenge of integration remains a crucial concern, including the successful integration of refugees into both the education system and labor market. Recently, a joint study of the OECD and the European Commission reported that Germany has made clear progress in integrating migrants. According to the report, the country shows a better integration performance than other countries with a comparable immigration history. Labor market integration is particularly successful with an increase in the employment ratio of foreign-born immigrants from 59% in 2006 to 67% in 2017. Remaining deficiencies relate to a relatively high share of young migrants with low qualifications.

Beyond labor market integration, much will ultimately depend on whether broader cultural integration will succeed. So far, German civil society remains in favor of integrating refugees but polarization on this issue has increased. There is a danger of strengthening xenophobia if problems of cultural alienation and safety concerns grow. But, in this regard, recent data points to a relatively positive development. Immigrants report less discrimination in Germany than in other EU member states on average and less than immigrants in Germany reported 10 years ago. Furthermore, the perception of the German population toward migrants today is more positive than it was 10 years ago.

Besides these general developments, there are particular issues with respect to the largest immigrant group, which is from Turkey. The deteriorating democratic performance of Turkey has raised issues of split loyalties. German-Turkish conflicts have overshadowed attempts to further strengthen relations between the German state and official Muslim organizations. In 2016, the German Islam Conference, which assisted in the development of an intercultural dialogue between government officials and Muslim civil society organizations, celebrated its 10-year anniversary. However, its prospects of success are highly contested and its termination has often been considered, including by the responsible minister, Horst Seehofer. The current government plans to restart the conference at the end of November 2018 and concentrate on a new support program “Mosques for Integration” (Moscheen für Integration), supporting training and study courses for Muslim theologians at German universities.

Overall, the way Germany logistically dealt with the inflow of almost a million refugees in a very brief period of time is impressive and there are increasing signs that the integration process has started in a more promising way than was the case with immigration waves in the past. But there is no doubt that integration remains an immense task.
BAMF 2018: Aktuelle Zahlen zu Asyl, Oktober 2018:

bpb (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) (2018)

Deutsche Islamkonferenz 2018

OECD 2019: Deutliche Fortschritte bei der Integration von Zuwanderern, Herausforderungen bleiben aber bestehen, 16.01.2019,
Since the Second World War, Luxembourg’s migrant population has grown continuously. Today, around 85% of migrants are citizens of the European Unionand 90% of migrants are of European descent. Most other highly qualified migrants have come from Russia, the United States and Canada. Luxembourg has one of the highest economically performing migrant populations, with a high proportion of economic migrants coming from other OECD countries and a very small proportion from economically weak developing countries. More than 50% of the total resident population in Luxembourg has a migrant background.

The Migrant Integration Policy Index gave Luxembourg an overall score of 57 (59 in 2010), ranking the country 15 out of 35 countries. Migrant children are fully integrated in local elementary schools or high schools. Children between 12 and 15 years old, who have recently migrated to Luxembourg, are given the opportunity to attend special classes called “classes d’insertion” in the capital’s Lycée Technique du Centre, with special programs in French or German, designed to facilitate integration into regular classes. Despite this, the average school dropout rate for children of foreign parents is high.

All foreigners, EU and third-country citizens, can vote and run for office in local elections, provided they fulfill certain residency requirements and are registered on the electoral list. Conditions for the inscription have been eased over recent years. However, meetings of local councils are usually held in Luxembourgish (with reports written in German, French or English), which poses an obstacle for resident foreign citizens.

In light of this experience, the government implemented a new Naturalization Act in 2017 to facilitate foreigners’ civic participation in public life and boost integration policy. Under the new law, people born in Luxembourg can apply for citizenship without other conditions or receive it automatically at the age of 18.
“L’école du succès, une chance pour tous.” Ministre de l’éducation nationale. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.
“Nationalitätsgesetz: Reform soll am 1. April 2017 in Kraft treten.” Luxemburger Wort, 21 Sept. 2016, Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.
“PISA-Studie 2016: Luxemburg liegt weiter unter dem OECD-Durchschnitt.” Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
New Zealand
New Zealand is a prime destination for immigrants. Typically, New Zealand attracts between 40,000 and 50,000 new immigrants each year. 2017 saw a record net permanent and long-term migration into New Zealand of approximately 70,000 persons. International Travel and Migration statistics showed an actual net gain of 63,000 migrants from January to August, down from 72,000 in the year to August 2017.
The increasing numbers of immigrants who become New Zealand citizens reflects the country’s willingness to promote integration. Based on labor market and education system indicators, integration policy has been moderately successful. New legislation was enacted in 2015 to ensure that migrant workers had the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. These measures are reflected in the views of most immigrants who are satisfied with their situation. According to statistics collected by New Zealand’s General Social Survey, 87% of immigrants feel fully integrated and perceive no significant differences in economic living standards compared with the native-born population. The government expects that the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) and the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) will improve matters further. In April 2016, the new Global Impact Visa policy was announced. It is a collaborative public-private sector approach to attract international applicants with sought-after skills. To some degree, the overall positive performance has to do with the fact that New Zealand employs a points-based selection system that helps to attract immigrants who are relatively self-sufficient financially and can be easily integrated into the labor market. Indeed, the Immigration Act 2009 clearly stated for the first time that skilled immigration is preferred in New Zealand. More problematic are the challenges for lesser-skilled immigrants, who experience difficulties in settling in New Zealand when they are unable to bring over other family members. Despite agreeing to the UN Global Compact for Migration (UNGCM) in December 2018, the coalition government emphasized that it will stick to its longer-term plan to target a reduction in net immigration of 20,000-30,000 people per year, by tightening up on work and international student visas. The NZ First party, which is known for its conservative stance on immigration, will continue to push for even lower immigration during the present government’s term.
There are a number of reasons for the shift in New Zealand’s immigration policy. Primary among these is the strain on the main urban centers caused by the rising population, which has been led by inward migration. Property prices in Auckland and other cities have increased exponentially in the past few years, which has made houses unaffordable for many citizens, generating discontent. Congestion on the roads and public transport systems has increased, while growing demand has affected the delivery of key public services like health and education. The government believes that lower immigration would reduce the pressure on the housing market and other infrastructure. However, critics warn that tighter immigration policy could result in slower economic growth and an aging population. Despite its commitment to reduced migration, the Labour-NZ First government has been under growing pressure to attract new immigrants in such fields as construction, teaching and the health sector. Achieving a balance between the demands of its populist junior coalition partner and the needs of a growing economy has been one of the Labour-led government’s greatest challenges.
Immigration Amendment Act 2015: (accessed October 24, 2015).
Hawke, Gary. 2018. New rhetoric but old policy for New Zealand.
Integration policy is fairly well-organized and well-funded in Norway, but the effects of immigration represent a challenge, and policies have to date been less than fully effective. The key policy target is to ensure access to education and employment for immigrants. Non-Western immigrants experience higher unemployment rates and lower wages than native Norwegians, and there are complaints of discrimination in both the labor and housing markets. Though Norway is more successful in integrating immigrants into the labor market than many other countries.

Immigration and integration policies are increasingly contested, and were one of the key issues during the recent elections. There is some social unrest related to problems faced by second- and third-generation immigrants. In 2011, a terrorist attack damaged a government building in the center of Oslo as well as the youth camp run by the Labor Party on the island of Utoeya. This terrorist attack was carried out by a Norwegian right-wing extremist.

And although many voters are expressing concerns regarding immigration, Norway does not have a significant political party on the political far right pursuing an openly xenophobic or anti-immigration policy. Increased immigration in 2015 and 2016, due to the civil war in Syria, has added to this. However, in 2017, Norway experienced a significant drop in the number of immigrants arriving.

Integration policies include free language training and additional school resources allocated to immigrant children. Some of these resources are devoted to preserving cultural identity. For instance, children are offered additional classes in their mother tongue. The acquisition of Norwegian citizenship is relatively quick. Applicants must have lived in the country for at least seven out of the last 10 years, and either be fluent in Norwegian or have attended courses in Norwegian (or Sami) for 300 hours. Immigrants with permanent residence status are entitled to vote in local elections.

An autonomous Directorate of Integration was created in 2006, distinct from the preexisting Directorate of Immigration and Integration, a change that was generally regarded as a sensible and successful reform. However, the challenges of multiculturalism stemming from immigration remain relatively unfamiliar in this traditionally homogenous society, and policies remain unsettled and in some respects immature. For example, the country continues to deny the right to dual citizenship. Islam has become the largest non-Christian religious denomination.

The country’s “old minorities,” mainly the aboriginal Sami population, have in the course of two or three decades gone from facing severe discrimination to a state of equity and integration. This status has been institutionalized in their formal recognition as an aboriginal people, with group rights written into the constitution and the creation of a Sami parliament, elected by the Sami population, which possesses some legislative authority.
On 1 January 2016, there were about 700,000 immigrants and descendants of immigrants living in Denmark, or 12% of the population (7% immigrants, 5% descendants). Roughly two-thirds of immigrants are from non-western countries. After the tightening of immigration policies introduced by the liberal-conservative government in 2002, immigration from non-Western countries fell, but net immigration from Western countries rose. More recently there have been increases from both groups.

The employment rate of immigrants and their descendants (ages 16 to 64) is low compared to other groups, though it had been increasing. As a consequence, there is a substantial employment gap, taking into account the age distribution, immigrants from non-western countries have an employment rate (2015) which is 23% lower than that of ethnic Danes (for descendants the gap is 17%). The gap is higher for women (25%) than for men (21%). For immigrants from western countries the gap is about 11% (for descendants about 6%). The gaps in employment rates should be viewed in light of high employment rates in Denmark for both men and women, high qualification requirements to find a job and high minimum wages.

Concerning educational achievements, immigrants and their descendants – especially girls – are making progress. For the 2014 cohort, 95.4% of women with Danish ethnicity and 92% of women with a foreign background, and 92% of men with Danish ethnicity and 80.8% of men with a foreign background are expected to complete secondary education.

The 24-year-old rule for family reunification introduced in 2004 has allowed fewer immigrants and their descendants to bring spouses to Denmark from abroad. The percentage fell from 61% in 2001 to 31% in 2008. Instead, immigrants increasingly marry other immigrants already living in Denmark as well as native Danes,

Since these reforms have gone into effect there have been improvements. Indeed, an increasing number of immigrants say they feel more integrated and have more Danish friends, and fewer say they experience discrimination. In addition, many more immigrants speak Danish than ever before.

There is broad political support for stricter immigration policies. Various measures were introduced to reduce immigration (also for family unification) and recently the government proposed a temporary stop to refugees arriving under the U.N. quota system. The conditions of temporary residency permits are being reassessed and the scope for temporary residents to return is being discussed. These measures should be viewed together with changes to the social safety net and reduced transfers to immigrants.

The current government plans to maintain the temporary border control until control over the Schengen Area’s external borders is improved. Special initiatives to tackle the creation of parallel societies, which have high rates of crime and promote anti-Danish values, have been announced. Rejected asylum-seekers will be returned. Denmark currently does not take so-called quota refugees through the United Nations, even if some municipalities declare that they are ready to receive more.

Another controversial issue is the question of attracting qualified workers from abroad, which is arguably more a labor market policy issue. The rules for this type of immigration is debated in the context of the currently low unemployment rate.

According to various reports integration is actually improving more than one would think given the current political debate. Half of male refugees are in work after three years and children of refugees are integrating into Danish schools faster than in the past. A mix of a strong economy and active integration policies are starting to show improvements.
Web site:

Udlændinge og integration,” (accessed 21 October 2017.

“Hvor mange kommer, og Hvorfra?” (Accessed 21 October 2017).

Udlændinge- og integrationsministeriet, “Tal på udlændingeområdet pr. 31.08.2018”.

“Regeringen når eget mål om flygtninge i arbejde,” Berlingske. 10 September 2018.

“Forsker: Det går bedre med integrationen end vi tror,” Danmark Søndag, 21. October 2018.
Since the Soviet period, Estonia has had a large non-native population. Russian speakers – ethnic Russians and other Slavs – compose almost a third of the population, 16% of whom are foreign born. The national immigration policy has been regularly updated and monitored, with the government allocating substantial national and EU funds to various integration programs. All government activities are framed by the national development plan “Integrating Estonia 2020.”

In national elections, only Estonian citizens can vote and register as candidates. Permanent residents without Estonian (or other EU) citizenship can vote in municipal elections but cannot stand as candidates. An increasing number of Russian-speakers who hold Estonian citizenship are employed in the civil service, belong to the political elite and stand as candidates in elections. However, the electoral turnout of Russian-speakers remains lower than the national average. Several public and private initiatives have sought to facilitate civil-society activism among ethnic minorities, yielding some visible progress. Nonetheless, the ethnic Estonian and minority populations continue to primarily live separately. Despite improved language skills, the labor market situation of ethnic minorities remains worse than that of ethnic Estonians with a persistently higher unemployment rate (by 3.6% in 2017).

Beyond policies on integrating immigrants from the Soviet period, programs to integrate refugees and new immigrants have been put in place. To help newly arrived immigrants settle in and acquire knowledge, skills and proficiency in the Estonian language, they can choose to participate in an introductory welcoming program. Additionally, the Ministry of the Interior supports and empowers public, private and third-sector organizations working on a day-to-day basis with newly arrived immigrants by building support networks and developing public services. Despite those attempts, more than half of the war refugees who came to Estonia as part of the European migration plan have left the country.
Integration Monitoring of the Estonian Society 2017. (accessed 23.10.2017)
Since the beginning of the 1980s, Finland has witnessed more immigration than emigration. From 1990 to 2016, the share of the population with a foreign background grew from 0.8% to 6.6%. Several factors have challenged the management of this inflow of immigrants. Second-generation immigrants have had difficulties entering education or finding work. There are also differences in labor-market attachment relative to migrants’ countries of origin; Estonians, for example, finding their way into employment much more easily than migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Boosting rates of labor-market participation is one of the key targets of the government’s Future of Migration 2020 Strategy and 2016 Action Plan. While Finland, in terms of a per capita ratio, has received a fair share of asylum-seekers, the country is not considered to be among the top destinations for immigrants. This is the result of various factor. Applying for a Finnish residence permit is still a complicated process, as is applying for Finnish citizenship. Finnish is a difficult language and proficient language skills are required. While sympathetic to work-related immigration, authorities’ general attitude toward immigration is rather restrictive. Moreover, until the summer of 2017, the Finns Party used its cabinet position as a platform to fan anti-immigrant sentiments. Several demonstrations by anti-immigrant protesters against refugee accommodations turned violent. However, according to polls, the share of favorable attitudes toward immigration among the public has slightly increased recently, which is in part due to the catastrophic refugee situation in the European Union.
Arno Tanner, “Finland’s Balancing Act”,;
“Finland must develop its Immigration and Integration Policies”,;
Eve Kyntäjä, “Integration Policy in Finland”,;
Henna Busk, Signe Jauhiainen, Antti Kekäläinen, Satu Nivalainen and Tuuli Tähtinen 2016. “Maahanmuuttajat työmarkkinoilla: tutkimus eri vuosina Suomeen muuttaneiden työurista” [Immigrants on the labour market – A study of the working lives of immigrants arriving in Finland in different years]. Finnish Centre for Pensions, Studies 06/2016. Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Pensions;
Elli Heikkilä and Selena Peltonen, “Immigrants and Integration in Finland”, Institute of Migration, Turku.
The large inflow of immigrants during the boom years led to a rapid increase in the foreign-born population resident in Ireland. More than 70% of immigrants to Ireland have the right to reside, work and own property in the country by virtue of their EU citizenship. Despite the resumption of a high rate of emigration among Irish nationals after 2008, inward migration from abroad has continued at a significant rate.

The unemployment rate among non-nationals (especially those from the new EU accession states) is higher than among the native-born population. Many employed immigrants are not in occupations commensurate with their skills and education.

The inflow of families from non-English-speaking countries in the last 10 years has placed a strain on the education system. Additional resources have been provided to help cope with this challenge, but these are not regarded as adequate. There are signs of increasing gaps between schools in relatively deprived areas of the main cities, which often have high concentrations of children holding non-Irish citizenship, and schools in the more affluent areas with lower concentrations.

Forced integration is not an issue, although some ethnic and religious minorities face difficulties in a country that is still overwhelmingly Irish, while their children face problems in a school system that is still largely under Roman Catholic management.

The treatment of asylum-seekers by the Irish authorities came under critical scrutiny in the course of 2014, with adverse attention drawn to the system of “direct provision,” which is intended to provide for the welfare of asylum-seekers and their families as they await decisions on their asylum application. It provides essential services, medical care, accommodation and board, with three meals per day provided at set times. Attention has recently been focused on the poor standards of accommodation and living conditions in the facilities serving this population, as well as the enforced isolation of families waiting for as long as seven years to learn of a decision on their asylum applications.

During 2015, Ireland was not affected by the growing immigration/refugee crisis in much of Europe. Ireland agreed to accept some immigrants/asylum-seekers from Syria and other war-torn countries before the end of 2015. There is no explicitly anti-immigrant political party in Ireland and immigration was not a prominent issue in the 2016 general election.
Lithuania remains a rather homogeneous society. According to the Department of Migration, there were 54,393 foreign residents living in the country on 1 July 2018, of which 15,291 were citizens of Ukraine (55.4% more than the previous year), 12,391 were citizens of Russia (8.3% less than the previous year) and 10,433 were citizens of Belarus (24.3% more than the previous year). As such, citizens from those three countries made up around 70% of all foreign citizens living in Lithuania. In total, foreign nationals represented around 2% of the country’s population. Immigration of foreign nationals to Lithuania remains rare but is increasing year by year. For instance, there was a net increase in the number of foreign residents living in Lithuania of 15.4% during the last year. As part of the EU program to distribute asylum-seekers among member states, Lithuania committed to taking in 1,105 people over the course of two years, but this quota was later reduced to 1,077 people and extended to 1 October 2019. By late September 2018, 486 refugees had been relocated to Lithuania from Italy, Greece and Turkey. However, the majority of refugees have left Lithuania for Sweden, Germany and other EU destinations.

Most foreigners are coming to Lithuania from Ukraine and Belarus, former republics of the Soviet Union. For this reason, their integration into Lithuanian society has not been very difficult. However, the fact that the majority of new asylum-seekers are likely to come from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea presents Lithuanian authorities with more complex integration challenges (unless they decide to leave Lithuania). Furthermore, a number of developments call for the implementation of new integration measures, including the country’s rising flows of legal and illegal immigration; the economic recovery, which helped contribute to the recent increase in the number of work permits granted to third-country nationals; and the language and cultural problems faced by foreign residents in Lithuania.

Migrants from other EU member states tend to integrate into Lithuanian society more successfully than do third-country nationals. Various cultural, educational and social programs, including the provision of information, advisory, training services and Lithuanian language courses are aimed at integrating migrants into Lithuanian society. However, labor-market services are not sufficiently developed in this regard, and foreign residents’ access to relevant education and training programs remains limited in practice. Moreover, new integration facilities and services are necessary in order to support the expected new surge of refugees. The government has proposed shortening an initial integration period and establishing local divisions of the Foreigners Registration Center, among other measures.
Spain ranks 11th out of 38 Western democracies in the latest available edition of the Migrant Integration Policy Index, and is particularly progressive regarding the issues of family reunions and permanent residence. Even though the government has taken little action in this area, the population’s degree of tolerance toward immigrants is striking. In a survey conducted in June 2018 by CIS, the country’s official statistics agency, only 3.5% of Spaniards listed immigration as one of their main concerns. Violent attacks on immigrant groups are very rare, and in contrast to most comparable EU countries, xenophobic populist parties had no representation in the national parliament through the end of the review period (although the new right-wing party Vox, with an anti-immigration dimension in its program, was doing well in the polls). Most immigrants are first-generation, and in the case of Latin Americans, share a common language and cultural links with the native population.

Nevertheless, there is no active policy that has the objective of integrating economic migrants and asylum seekers into Spanish society. Furthermore, illegal immigrants are frequently housed in prisons due to a lack of room at the Foreigner Internment Centers (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros). Although the Spanish government supported the EU system for the reallocation of refugees, the number of refugees accepted by Spain during 2018 has been very low. In July 2018, the arrivals of irregular migrants in Spain surpassed those in Italy for the first time. In fact, the situation has already reached a critical point in some regions that clearly exceeds the existing infrastructure capacity.
Euronews (2018), Is Spain experiencing an immigration boom?

Migrant Integration Policy Index (2015)
By most international comparisons, Sweden has a generous immigration policy. The country has received a large number of refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and, in 1992, from the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, there are individual local authorities (Södertälje) that have received more immigrants from Iraq than has the entire United States. In the European setting, Sweden stands out as one of the most immigration-friendly countries (together with Germany).

As is the case across Europe, the war in Syria has triggered huge immigration to Sweden. In 2015 and 2016, Sweden received some 163,000 and 29,000 asylum-seekers respectively; for 2017 the number was about 22,500 and by October 2018 some 16,000 people had applied for asylum. Permanent residency was granted to about 120,000 refugees between 2015 and 2017. Sweden offers permanent residency for unaccompanied children and for Syrian families with children. These provisions, however, are highly disputed in contemporary public discourse and in the parliament.

The increasing immigration represents a major challenge, unprecedented in size and scope, to Swedish integration policy. These policies cover a wide range of measures, from language training to supportive labor market and housing policies. Most of the policies are implemented locally. Given the extensive autonomy of Swedish local governments, the instruments vary regionally. There are now political signals that local autonomy should no longer prevent individual local authorities from being requested by central government to receive asylum-seekers.

It is difficult to argue that integration policy in Sweden has been successful. In terms of both educational attainment and employment, immigrants in Sweden find it much more difficult to integrate than immigrants in comparable countries. This is not to say that there is a lack of political or economic commitment to integration policy. To the contrary, integration policy remains a very important policy sector and related political activities are far-reaching. Swedish integration policy ranks highly from a comparative perspective. The activities of the ombudsman and the minister for immigration and equality ensure that immigration issues have a high public salience.

Sweden’s lack of success in integrating immigrants, despite strong efforts, thus indicates that the problem lies in the design and implementation of its integration policies. It is possible that the same obstacles facing young people as they try to make their way into the labor market also discriminates against immigrants. The current surge in immigration in the wake of the Syrian crisis has exacerbated these problems. Whether this is a short-term phenomenon or a lasting situation remains to be seen.

There is some good news, however. Studies show that second generation immigrants, particularly girls, perform well in secondary and tertiary education. However, for immigrants with low education, entry into a labor market with high standards seems more or less blocked.
Kvist, Jon et al. (eds.) (2012), Changing Inequalities. The Nordic Countries and New Challenges (Bristol: Policy Press).

Migrant Integration Policy Index (

Multiculturalism Policy Index (
For many years, Swiss integration policy was predicated on the perception that foreigners were “guest workers,” whose limited stay meant that broad efforts to encourage integration were unnecessary. As many foreign workers gained access to unlimited work permits between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s, the policy approach grew inappropriate over time. Accordingly, a number of efforts to improve integration have been made, starting as early as kindergarten. Nonetheless, integration policy cannot broadly be called a success in Switzerland, particularly given the very high share of migrants in the population (accounting for about one-quarter of the country’s residents). For example, the (scientifically contested) Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) ranks Switzerland 21 out of 38 countries. Yet if the lack of a coherent federal integration policy is undisputable, this does not mean that integration policy as a whole is failing. Many local and cantonal authorities are doing a good and sometimes innovative job of integration, especially for second-generation migrants. In this respect, most policy development and implementation is decentralized to the local and regional levels.

According to OECD statistics, second-generation migrants in Switzerland perform better in school and are better integrated into the labor market than in other European countries. This is not to say that immigrants have equal opportunities in all respects. If immigrant unemployment rates and dependence on social aid are above the national average, this is due to the fact that the share of low-skilled workers with a correspondingly higher risk of unemployment is also above average among immigrants. But the lack of a coherent integration policy may add to the problems, and social discrimination is not limited to the labor market. Within the housing market, for instance, some groups of immigrants may find it comparatively difficult to rent apartments.

With regard to naturalization, 46,060 foreigners were granted Swiss citizenship in 2017. Calculating the number of naturalizations as a share of all migrants actually living in the country, the Swiss rate of naturalization is very low in comparison with other consolidated democracies. In 2017, about 2.2% of resident foreigners acquired Swiss citizenship. Only some of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and a few Western democracies (e.g., Austria and Germany) have similar or lower naturalization rates. The naturalization procedure is burdensome. As naturalization in Switzerland is a bottom-up process that starts at the level of the commune, considerable regional differences are evident, with some communes and cantons pursuing a liberal naturalization policy, and others acting more restrictively. These regional differences show up also in the issue of political rights. A few cantons and communes grant political-participation rights to foreigners, even though the federal government does not. Thus, with regard to integration, naturalization and legislation on political rights, we find a bottom-up approach rather than federal standards.

In Switzerland, as in all modern societies, some segments of society suffer from globalization and, in particular, from the free movement of labor. These “globalization losers” are particularly likely to hold xenophobic attitudes – to insist on “my country first”-positions – and, consequently, to vote for right-populist parties. The Swiss Peoples Party is the political party with the strongest electoral support. It has been particularly successful in mobilizing these segments of society. However, this is a far from perfect explanation. In a 2017 survey (MOSAiCH), 59% of all respondents with below median years of education supported a xenophobic statement, compared to 43% of those with above median years of education.

Therefore, on the one hand there, is limited prospect for a more generous and liberal integration policy in the near term given the strength of integration-averse political actors and citizens. On the other hand, as a comparative analysis of European Social Survey data shows, Switzerland belongs to the least xenophobic societies in Western Europe, together with the Nordic countries; for example, the country is much less xenophobic than Austria, the United Kingdom and France.
Armingeon, Klaus and Sarah Engler 2015: Polarisierung als Strategie. Die Polarisierung des Schweizer Parteiensystems im internationalen Vergleich, in Markus Freitag and Adrian Vatter (Hrsg.): Wahlen und Wählerschaften in der Schweiz, Zürich: Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 355-379, 467-469. ISBN: 978-3-03810-098-0

MANATSCHAL, Anita and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2013). „Cantonal variations of integration policy and their impact on immigrant educational inequality“, special issue „From Models to Indices and Beyond: Tracking Citizenship and Diversity“,Comparative European Politics 11.5): 671-695.

MOSAiCH 2017, Statement: Ich wünsche mir einen Schweiz, … mit gleichen Chancen für Schweizer einerseits und Ausländer andererseits / eine Schweiz mit besseren Chancen für die Schweizer (Respondents supporting the latter statement were coded as xenophobic).
The Netherlands is a sizable immigration-destination country, with a considerable integration task. In 2018, 12% of the population were first-generation immigrants. In 2011, the Netherlands ranked 5 out of 37 industrial countries in the Migrant Integration Policy Index; in 2015, the county ranked 15. The country scores relatively high on measures of labor mobility and access to citizenship for migrants, but low on measures of access to family reunion and permanent residence. It attains average scores for criteria such as education, anti-discrimination policy, health outcomes and political participation. The relative success of DENK, a newly established political party that claims to promote tolerance, is a sign that ethnic minorities do not feel adequately represented by mainstream political parties.

In a 2018 representative public opinion poll on immigration and integration issues, 38% of respondents spontaneously stated that immigration, integration and racism were the second most important public concern, after health care. In view of occasional riots and disturbances at municipal council meetings on the location of refugee settlements, integration issues flared up again. At the local elections in March 2017, national and local parties with anti-immigration agendas gained seats in municipal councils across the country, often for the first time.

Since 2009, all non-EU nationals who migrate to the Netherlands are required to learn Dutch and essential facts about Dutch society. The Civic Integration Abroad policy involves obligatory integration tests in the country of origin for family reunion applicants. Refugees are expected to “deserve” their status in the Netherlands by taking language tests, and many refugees accumulate debt paying for language courses, which are also difficult to find and are often of unreliable quality. Migrants without refugee status are allowed to take a loan of up to €10,000 to pay for their integration, to be repaid within three years.

Compared to other countries, immigrants benefit from several measures targeting employment and labor market integration. Nevertheless, unemployment rates among non-Western migrants are three times as high (16%) as among Dutch-born citizens (under 4% at the end of 2018). This difference is somewhat less pronounced within the 15 to 24 age group but remains twice as high. One in three young migrants without a formal school qualification is unemployed. Although the Dutch recognize and disapprove of discrimination more compared to other European countries, they still think that discriminated minorities are “exaggerating” and should “get used to it.” Recent research shows that ethnic discrimination in the labor market is widespread and difficult to sanction. Muslim citizens’ self-reported discrimination experiences and perceptions, and incidents of harassment and violence, are among the highest in Europe.
Migrant Integration Policy Index 2015. Integration Policies: who benefits? ( licy-brief.pdf consulted 7 November 2018)

Burgerperspectieven 2018|1, Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (, consulted November 2, 2018)

Nederlands Jeugdinstituut, Jeugdwerkloosheid (, consulted 26 October 2017)

de Waal, T. M. (2017). Conditional belonging: A legal-philosophical inquiry into integration requirements for immigrants in Europe, UVA, Amsterdam ( findings)

Additional references:
Turkey’s new Law on Foreigners and International Protection took effect in April 2014. On the same date, the General Directorate for Migration Management officially took on responsibility for implementing the law with a view to bringing Turkey in line with European Union and international standards.

Turkey is increasingly becoming a country of destination for regular migration. At the same time, it also remains a notable transit and destination country for irregular migration. The civil war in Syria which started in 2011 is placing a heavy burden on the Turkish economy. It is estimated that about 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and 368,000 asylum seekers and refugees of other nationalities (e.g., Iraqi, Afghani and Somali) are in Turkey. Key development needs for the refugees relate to education, housing and employment. Turkey hosts 6% of Syrian refugees in refugee camps equipped with education, health care and social services, while a large number of refugees live in cities. The number of refugees in refugee camps is about 220,000. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, it is estimated that Turkey has spent over $30 billion on health care, education, nutrition, social and other services for refugees.

Syrian refugees are resented among large segments of the Turkish public. Syrian refugees are viewed as a burden, and blamed for the deteriorating quality of public service provision, price increases and rising unemployment. Although the Turkish government has emphasized cultural and religious affinities with Syrian refugees, the public perceives a surprisingly large cultural and social distance. Furthermore, in spite of legislation adopted in 2016 to facilitate access to the labor market, only 20,000 work permits have been issued to date. An estimated 1.5 million Syrians are working informally in Turkey.

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, coordinates the efforts of U.N. agencies and partners to support Turkey’s refugee response, and avoid duplication and gaps in international assistance. UNHCR programs in Turkey are implemented through various public and private partnerships – including support for public institutions at the national and local levels, and private service providers – to ensure a coordinated, holistic approach to meeting the needs of asylum-seekers and refugees.

In an effort to manage the influx of refugees into Europe, the European Union negotiated a deal with Turkey in November 2015. For the period 2016 – 2017, the European Union offered Turkey up to €3 billion in aid, and – in return for Turkey’s support in stemming the flow of refugees to Europe – the European Union offered Turkey the prospect of easier travel visas and renewed EU accession talks. As part of European Union’s financial assistance to Turkey under the “Facility for Refugees in Turkey,” €1.9 billion was contracted to various U.N. agencies and international organizations in partnership with Turkish civil society organizations to support education, health care, socioeconomic and municipal infrastructure projects. Between 2018 and 2019, the European Union offered another €3 billion in aid, with €450 million of this amount has been committed to date.
EU Commission: Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council.
Seventh Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, COM(2017) 470 final, Brussels, 6.9.2017.

Erdoğan, Murat (2017) ‘Syrische Flüchtlinge in der Türkei’, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung,

Kirisci, K., J. Brandt and M. Erdoğan (2018) ‘Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Beyond the Numbers’, Brookings, Wshington, D.C.
Belgium has a contradictory attitude toward immigration. On the one hand, it has traditionally been quite welcoming to political refugees. Its initial reaction to the Syrian refugee inflow was no exception. The government responded with the rapid creation of emergency accommodation centers, followed by the re-dispatching of families to different cities and villages to promote integration and avoid the creation of ghettos. But the situation deteriorated since then, particularly in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Brussels and in the rest of Europe. As in many – if not most – EU member states, popular support for a complete halt to immigration is rising strongly. To fulfill its plan of returning illegal immigrants to their home countries or preventing future entries, the government has been forced to take increasingly controversial actions. These have ranged from signing the EU-Turkey agreement to block immigrants from reaching the European Union, to inviting Sudanese officials suspected of crimes against humanity to identify migrants of Sudanese origin. Even the minister responsible for this latter initiative, who belongs to the expressly conservative NVA party, admitted that he had to “hold his nose” when engaging in such deals. Indeed, some of these policies border on illegality, given that Belgium has signed all Geneva conventions, including that on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

For those who remain in Belgium, including second and third-generation immigrants, the degree of economic integration is far from being satisfactory, a fact that has produced increasing cleavages in the Belgian society. The Itinera Institute has argued greater data collection within these communities would be a necessary first step for identifying immigrants’ skills for job placement.

Even when legally Belgian, second-generation immigrants are confronted with a school system that is insufficiently adapted to people whose parents’ mother tongue is not Dutch or French. The OECD’s PISA reports note that the country’s significant inequalities in pupil performance can largely be explained by the immigration issue. Similar disparities are observable in the labor market. Indeed, in its recommendations of July 2018, the Council of the European Union reports that the employment rate of non-EU born compared to native-born residents was 20 percentage points lower in 2016. The gap being even larger for women.
As a result, foreigners face a higher risk of poverty. Indeed, according to EU-SILC data, the risk of poverty among foreigners is three times higher than for the native-born. This number is larger (four times) when non-EU born are considered.

Belgium has long been making efforts to combat these challenges. The Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism was created specifically to address discrimination issues. Civil society and the press are very wary of acts of outright discrimination and racism. Nonetheless, existing public funding levels and proactive policies remain insufficient to deliver the substantial results needed to demonstrate that the last 30 years of immigration have been a success.
The number of immigrants in Chile has increased significantly during the last years. The integration of immigrants from other Latin American countries, who represent nearly 75% of all immigrants (by far the largest group of foreigners in Chile), does not face significant difficulties since these immigrants share a common language and, to a certain degree, a similar cultural background. Typically, Peruvians have been the biggest immigrant group in Chile. However, in the period under review, most residence applications were submitted by Venezuelans due to the multiple crises in their country. Since 2013, immigration from Venezuela has grown by a factor of 19.

Latest estimates indicate that there were about one million immigrants living in Chile at the end of 2018 (about 5.5% of the population), nearly one-third of immigrants lack a valid residence permit. This is a significant increase from 2014, when about 420,000 immigrants where living in Chile (about 2.3% of the population at that time)

Also noteworthy is the fact that the relationship between emigration and immigration in Chile has changed. While in the past Chile registered higher rates of emigration than immigration, this is reversing due to the country’s economic development and political stability. The vast majority of immigrants settle in Chile’s capital Santiago and in those parts of the country characterized by a high concentration of mining activities – the country’s most important source of income. Because immigration happens most in these highly visible regions, migration policy has become more present in public discussions. It is fair to assume that its importance will further increase, considering its impact on the country’s economic and social development.

In 2016 and 2017, laws were enacted that foster protection of refugees and their integration into Chilean society. Refugee children now receive privileged access to Chilean citizenship regardless of age and residence time when one of their parents adopts Chilean citizenship. Before this reform, only adult children qualified for receiving citizenship through a parent. Additionally, some administrative barriers for migrants to attend public schools have been lowered.

On the basis of Chile’s experience with the humanitarian resettlement of Palestinians, the former government of Michelle Bachelet promised to host between 50 and 100 Syrian families, regardless of religion. Although only 14 families had arrived by the end of October 2017.

During 2018, Chile became the fourth most popular Latin America destination for Venezuelan migrants. According to the investigative police, in the first half of the year, 147,429 Venezuelan citizens entered Chile – almost as many as during the previous 12 months (177,347 people in 2017). Since April 2018, the so-called Visa of Democratic Responsibility, introduced by President Piñera, has been accessible to Venezuelans. A total of 64,932 Venezuelan citizens have applied for this special visa, which has been granted in only 9,626 cases, while 42,000 applications are still being processed.

Also in April 2018, President Piñera presented a new law on migration to the Congress that would modify the existing regulation introduced in 2013. Anticipating a long parliamentary debate, the executive passed several administrative decrees in order to address “urgent challenges,” which included changing the existing law on aliens (Ley de Extrajería). Since the introduction of these executive decrees, visas to stay in Chile are issued in a person’s country of origin and the possibility of applying for a temporary work visa in Chile has been eliminated.

Together with another 10 Latin American countries, the Chilean government under Piñera signed in September 2018 the Quito Declaration on the Venezuelan migration crisis, which recognized the need for greater regional cooperation in this realm. Although, in contrast to this, President Piñera belongs to the small group Latin American heads of state that did not sign the U.N. Global Compact for Migration in December 2018.
Citations: lth/international-migration-outlook-2015_migr_outlook-2015-en#page196 -de-dos-tercios-trabajan-y-el-42-cotiza-en-fonasa.shtml -2005-2014.pdf–es/index.htm

Refugee policy: risis-actual-de-los-refugiados/

Chilean plan for Syrian refugees: imperativo-etico/

Venezuelan migration crisis:

Executive decrees on migration:

Quito declaration:

UN-Global Compact for Migration:
Traditionally, France has an open policy toward immigrants. Every person born in France is considered French, or eligible to obtain French citizenship. Integration policies, in terms of long-term residence permits, access to citizenship and family reunification are open and generous. Presently, the largest share of new legal immigrants is related to the reunification of families. It explains partially the difficulty of integrating new immigrants who often have no skills, no education and do not speak French. Processes of integration have to start from scratch. The characteristics of immigrants moving to France are another problem: most are unskilled and as such, subject to vagaries of the economic crisis, for instance in the construction sector.

The integration of the so-called second (in fact, often the third) generation of immigrants, especially coming from Maghreb countries, is difficult for many reasons: education system failures; community concentration in urban/suburban ghettos; high unemployment; cultural identity issues, practices of job discrimination and so on. Immigration from Eastern Europe, the southern Balkans and, more recently, from the Middle East has become a very sensitive subject exploited by the National Front. The reluctance of the French socialist government to put in place a serious migration policy has been challenged by German Chancellor Merkel’s sudden decision in August 2015 to open the doors to migrants from Syria, forcing the French government to revise its veiled but deliberate policy of restricting entry (low level of asylum admissions, cumbersome and discouraging bureaucratic processes). The number of refugees that have come to France since the summer of 2015 is substantially lower than in neighboring Germany but has recently increased. The National Office on Refugees (Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides, Ofpra) reported that 100,000 refugees came to France in 2017 and 85,000 in the first nine months of 2018, an increase of 20% compared to the same period in 2017.

President Macron declared his intention to review France’s immigration policy, combining measures to improve welcome and integration measures for immigrants and refugees with accelerated procedures for handling the applications for asylum and re-enforced measures for sending back people whose applications are rejected. The screening process of requests has improved, but at the same time there is a deliberate policy to restrict entry. For instance, the border between France and Italy is constantly controlled by the police to avoid the illegal entry of migrants, and avoid the formation of illegal settlements of migrants (e.g., in Calais or the Paris area). The key issue remains the integration of immigrants into the labor market given the high rate of unemployment.
OFPRA: Les données de l’asile 2017
Civil rights legislation for immigrants is largely influenced by the Danish and Norwegian models, which also reflects Iceland’s obligations under the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement. Separate legislation for immigrants from EEA/EU countries and non-EEA/EU countries makes it difficult for citizens outside the EEA to move to Iceland. Legislation for non-EEA/EU countries focuses on the need for foreign labor and restricts non-EEA/EU migrants to temporary work permits. Authorities provide instruction in the Icelandic language for foreign nationals. Nationals from other Nordic countries with three years’ consecutive residency in Iceland are eligible to vote in local elections, while for other foreign national’s eligibility follows five years of consecutive residency. The right to vote in parliamentary elections presupposes Icelandic citizenship.

The center Alþjóðasetur in Reykjavík provides interpretation and translation services to immigrants. The Directorate of Immigration (Útlendingastofnun) – a division within the Ministry of Interior whose mandate includes processing residence permits, visas and citizenship applications – has repeatedly been criticized for expelling foreign nationals on weak grounds. The Directorate of Labor (Vinnumálastofnun) reaches out to foreigners by, for example, providing important information in English on its website. The Directorate of Labor is also responsible for running the European Employment Services office in Iceland.

A 2011 report on the social and labor market participation of immigrants following the 2008 collapse found that the economic crisis and subsequent rise in general unemployment resulted in lower labor market participation rates, a reduction in working hours, limited over-time and part-time employment, and lower wages. Immigrants are, for example, offered the same job as before but with lower salaries. Participants in the study also complained about increasing prejudice from Icelandic employers to foreign workers. Further, the authors concluded that labor market conditions following the 2008 collapse are much less favorable for immigrants compared with the previous period of economic expansion. One reason is that the industries that were the main employers of foreign citizens were particularly harshly hit by the recession.

In 2015, Iceland received and accepted 82 refugees. The government contributed further grants to the support of refugees in 2016. The number of refugees in Iceland increased from 111 in 2016 to 135 in 2017. Though the absolute number of refugees in Iceland is not large, the number of refugees nevertheless increased by 089% between 2015 and 2017.

In 2016 and even 2017, as earlier, the Directorate of Immigration repeatedly came under heavy media criticism for its insensitive handling of immigrants and refugees, especially for refusing to grant extensions to individuals who would face grave consequences if sent back to their home countries.
Lög um kosningar til sveitarstjórna nr. 5, 1998 (Law on local government elections no.
5 1998).

Tölfræði hælismála 2015 Accessed 22 December 2018.

Tölfræði hælismála 2016 Accessed 22 December 2018.

Tölfræði hælismála 2017 Accessed 22 December 2018.

Wojtynska, A., Skaptadóttir, U. D., and Ólafs, H. (2011), The participation of immigrants in civil society and labor market in the economic recession, University of Iceland, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences.
In the run-up to EU accession in 2007, legal rules on family reunification, long-term residence and anti-discrimination were adopted to ensure conformity with EU law. From a comparative perspective, Romania’s legislation has been fairly favorable toward immigrants. Romania scores particularly well with respect to anti-discrimination and labor market mobility, but policies are less welcoming with respect to education access and access to citizenship. For some time, however, migration policy has been dominated by the struggle to retain young, educated, Romanian citizens who are attracted to higher wages and standards of living elsewhere in the EU, as well as by the short-term pressures of the EU refugee crisis, rather than by attempts at attracting and integrating newcomers. Thus, Romanian politicians and voters have yet to approach immigration through the lens of solving the country’s medium- and long-term demographic and economic challenges. The National Strategy on Immigration 2015-2018 focused on promoting legal migration, improving controls on third-country nationals staying in Romania and strengthening the national asylum system. Its implementation has been hampered by weak coordination among public authorities. In 2017, Romania ranked 16th among the EU states as regards the number of refugees it permitted to enter. Half of the refugees taken in by Romania were from Syria, and a large minority were of Afghan origin. In 2018, Romania’s annual quota for refugees has been down to 40, but the government plans to take in more than 109 Syrians as part of an agreement to relieve some of neighboring Turkey’s refugee burden.
Due to the country’s colonial history, the United Kingdom has a large share of ethnic minorities (approximately 14% of the population), and integration has long been an important area of government policy. However, while the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 imposed the general duty to promote race equality on all public authorities, the United Kingdom has not developed a formal integration program. The focus has been more on the protection of minorities than on the integration of migrants, but that is because the United Kingdom has a preference for multiculturalism. There are both regional and ethnic differences in integration, with some cities and smaller towns having concentrations of populations of distinct ethnic groups, and tensions over access to public housing and public services in localities where recent immigrants have concentrated.

The Equality Act 2006 merged three existing bodies (including the Commission for Racial Equality) into a new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC is an umbrella organization, which attempts to enforce integration and equality across several dimensions, such as ethnicity. In recent years, attempts to create a national narrative around “Britishness” were aimed at changing from an ethnocentric concept of citizenship to a more civic one.
Attempts to increase diversity in parliament have been promoted by both major parties. As a consequence, public life reflects society more today than it did two decades ago. However, in public bodies, such as the police, concerns remain that minority ethnic groups are under-represented.

During and shortly after the Brexit referendum in 2015, there was an increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric and racially motivated crimes. Although it subsequently declined, it then rose again after the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017. Bodies such as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern.

Yet there is an important distinction that has to be made here. The openness to ethnical diversity in British society, culture and institutions, which undoubtedly surpasses that of many other European countries, stands in stark contrast to the United Kingdom’s institutional attitude toward foreign nationals coming to the United Kingdom. The then Home Secretary, Theresa May, introduced a target of keeping net migration to “tens of thousands,” although it has consistently been missed by a large margin. In pursuit of this target, the Home Office had a “hostile environment policy” to deter immigration to the United Kingdom.

A direct result of the hostile environment policy was the so-called Windrush scandal in 2018. Home Office employees had destroyed legal documents of citizens who originally came to the United Kingdom as Commonwealth citizens before the 1970s, resulting in a number of deportations or withdrawals of rights to re-enter the United Kingdom. The public and political outcry that followed the publication of the Home Office’s practice forced Theresa May’s direct successor as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to resign. Her replacement, Sajid Javid, distanced himself from the scandal and acted rapidly to overturn evident injustices, but introduced no major legislative changes. On the contrary, statements given by Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes to the Home Affairs Committee in October 2018 suggest that after the United Kingdom has legally separated from the European Union the Home Office plans to expand the hostile environment policy to include EU citizens as quickly as possible.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Report 08. Jul 2016.

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: CERD/C/GBR/CO/21-23.

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance: ECRI Report on the United Kingdom, 4 October 2016.
Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
When in the fall of 2015 a comparatively high number of refugees and/or migrants came to Austria, for a brief period society’s response seemed to go into the direction of a “welcoming culture.” Recent reforms pointed in the same direction. But this more liberal approach ended in 2016 when the dominant Austrian attitude became increasingly closed. Despite some remarkable efforts, the Austrian approach to integration continues to be deficient in two key ways. First, there is still too little formal recognition that Austria is a country that has been and will continue to be defined by immigration. Though not a feature of official government policy, the slogan “Austria is not a country of immigration” continues to be invoked by parties such as the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Second, and compared to other EU member states, acquiring citizenship in Austria is still difficult for non-nationals (despite some prominent figures such as opera performers, athletes, and billionaires).

These shortcomings are reflected in education outcomes. Education in urban areas, and to a lesser extent rural areas, has to deal with the challenge posed by children of first-generation migrants, in school systems with constrained resources. This means that children from migrant families find it more difficult to qualify for higher education and are often stuck in the lowest types of school. This also heavily nourishes discontent of “native” Austrian parents with children in such schools, where successful educational outcomes are increasingly difficult to realize. Special support policies for such children have recently been put in place, but it remains to be seen how successful these policies will be in the short to medium term.

With respect to the labor market more broadly, the Austrian government is only halfheartedly welcoming employees newly arriving from foreign countries. Its policies (including the “red-white-red card”) are neither well received by economic actors nor are they succeeding in attracting highly skilled professionals. The indirect, undeclared alliance between organized labor (which defends the short-term interests of union-protected laborers, and is usually linked politically to the left) and the far-right (which exploits xenophobic resentments, especially in the case of the Freedom Party) creates a political climate that sometimes breaks into open hostility, particularly against migrants coming from Muslim countries. This alliance between right-wing populism and organized labor is still an obstacle to the development of a more distinct integration policy.

While many refugees and migrants who came to Austria in quite significant numbers in 2015/2016 traveled on to countries such as Germany and Sweden, many others remained in Austria to seek asylum. Despite the fact that many asylum-seekers and refugees have left Austria in the meantime, not always voluntarily, the public discourse is still very much influenced by the “refugee wave.” Xenophobic sentiments are used in political campaigns, especially before the 2017 general elections.

The government has responded to the increase of refugees and migrants by introducing more stringent asylum rules. Asylum is to be granted on a temporary basis only and is to be reviewed after certain periods of time. These legislative measures may function as a disincentive to integrating migrants into Austrian society. However, they have also made the body of laws for aliens more complex. Migration in such amounts has also clearly overburdened the Austrian system and society and made action imperative. A solution to the evident intra-European migration imbalances will be possible only on a European level.

Austrian society seems to be deeply fragmented over issue of increasing of social (cultural) diversity. Some attempts to “forbid” signs of diversity by law (e.g., women wearing headscarves or the use of foreign languages in schools) indicate a growing anxiety concerning “our” identity. Such a – at least potential – xenophobia is not generally accepted, because it leads to an increase in conflicts between Austrians with a cosmopolitan outlook and Austrians with (mostly vague) anti-globalist attitudes. Such a situation makes the integration of migrants more and more complicated, and creates the temptation for political actors to exploit xenophobic sentiments.

Recently, the new government has also abolished many training programs (AMS) for the unemployed, primarily targeting services used by migrant populations. This includes cancelling German language trainings for non-natives.
New legal provisions:
While the numbers of migrants and refugees have dramatically fallen since 2015, Greece has remained unable to manage the inflows of people fleeing war-torn and poverty-stricken regions of the Middle East and Africa. Between January and September 2018 about 21,000 migrants and refugees entered Greece. Most remained at reception centers or camps on the Greek islands facing Turkey, such as Lesbos and Chios. Owing to the March 2016 EU-Turkey agreement, they are not allowed to travel through Greece toward Western Europe. If they do not want to return to Turkey, their only option is to seek asylum in Greece. Owing to the long and inefficient processing of asylum applications, arriving migrants and refugees are stranded on the Greek islands. They live in squalid conditions, as camp capacity has been exceeded. Furthermore, Greek authorities have been unable to manage the camps in a way that would protect camp residents from human rights violations and health risks.

Thus, the March 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey, which bounded Turkey to limit the flow of refugees passing to Greece, was only partially implemented. The Turkish government complained that it had not received the promised levels of financial aid from the EU for its cooperation. Meanwhile, the EU clearly distanced itself from the Erdogan regime, particularly after the aborted coup d’état in Turkey in July 2016.

EU authorities and NGOs continue to provide significant support, as the situation has overwhelmed local Greek authorities. However, this valuable support to desperate people arriving on Greece’s shores in small boats, does not extend to their educational and social integration. The integration of migrants (who arrived prior to 2016) into the education system has been functional in primary and secondary education. As for social integration, this has never been a strong focus of Greek migration policy. With the exception of Albanians, who probably constitute more than half of all migrants in Greece and first came to the country in the early 1990s, the country’s migrants – including migrants from Asia and Africa – are systematically excluded from Greek society. With regard to cultural integration, it is telling that there is still no official mosque for Muslims in Athens.

In summary, significant challenges in terms of policy efficiency remain and policy setbacks are now obvious. Greece must reduce human suffering inside refugee camps. By now this has grown to become a problem that obviously cannot be managed individually by the Greek state and will remain unresolved as long as the aforementioned EU-Turkey agreement is not fully implemented.
Data is drawn on international press reports (New York Times, BBC) and is available at:
and at:
Large-scale immigration is a relatively new phenomenon in Italy compared to other countries in Europe. In recent years, the number of legal (mainly from new EU member countries) and illegal immigrants has increased significantly, making immigration one of the hottest political issues. Issues associated with immigration have been cast in negative or even xenophobic rhetoric by some parties (especially the Northern League) during electoral campaigns, with immigrants portrayed as dangerous social elements.

Policies dealing with the topic have concentrated more on controlling illegal immigration and temporarily hosting refugees than on integration. However, given the failure of measures designed to prevent illegal immigration, successive governments have adopted provisions for the large-scale regularization of immigrants, especially those working for and within families. In spite of these measures, a large number of immigrants are still involved in the black economy and are thus subject to economic exploitation, dangerous working conditions and a lack of respect for their rights. Some sectors of Italy’s agriculture, for example, rely heavily on a workforce of low-paid illegal immigrants. In general, it is clear that in some sectors entrepreneurs and families are only able to operate due to the high number of migrants available to work. Agriculture, the building industry, private elderly care services, many child-care services and private cleaning services are dependent on legally or illegally employed immigrants. Access to citizenship for immigrants remains problematic. The discussion about the “ius soli” (i.e., granting Italian citizenship to children with a migrant background born in Italy) has been heated and legislative proposals remain blocked in parliament.

The school system has proved to be a positive factor in the process of integration, but schools have not received sufficient resources for achieving the best results in this field. Public housing policies have been weakened by the budgetary constraints. As a result, in many cities there are ghetto-like areas where immigrants live in extremely poor housing conditions. The universal health care system has in general been fairly effective in providing medical treatments also for immigrants. Charitable organizations, in particular organizations aligned to the Catholic Church (e.g., Caritas), have contributed significantly to assisting and integrating migrants.

To address the influx of immigrants from Africa arriving in Italy by the dangerous Mediterranean Sea routes and prevent immigrants from drowning at sea, Italian governments have deployed significant naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea, which have been joined by NGO vessels. While international support for these operations has increased in recent years, the willingness of other EU countries to accept a redistribution of migrants has been minimal. The efforts of successive Italian governments to promote a common European policy to address the phenomenon have so far been ignored or opposed.
The new government has dramatically changed policy course in this area. In particular, Interior Minister Salvini has made access to Italian ports for ONG ships with refugees and immigrants significantly harder, and has stepped up the anti-immigration and xenophobic rhetoric, which has encouraged acts of violence against immigrants and foreigners.
On 11 October 2011, Latvia adopted the Guidelines on National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy (2012 – 2018), which set policy goals for achieving a more inclusive and cohesive society. The guidelines include new policy proposals, increased governmental support and improved institutional arrangements. However, in 2015, Latvia ranked second-to-last among 38 European and North American countries in the Migrant Integration Policy Index. The index noted that Latvia still has the weakest policies among EU member states. The same year, Latvia convened a working group charged with creating a coherent policy for accepting and integrating a larger number of refugees as part of a burden-sharing process reflecting the broader European refugee crisis.

Latvia faces challenges in integrating two particular categories of immigrants: migrant workers and non-citizens. Non-citizens are long-term residents of Latvia who were not eligible for citizenship when Latvia gained independence from the Soviet Union and have not been naturalized since independence. Non-citizens comprise 11.43% of the total population.

The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs indicates that there are 89,023 migrant workers (i.e., individuals holding either a temporary or permanent residence permit) in Latvia. Migrant workers comprise 4.5% of the total population. Since July 2010, Latvia has granted temporary residence permits to investors meeting monetary investment targets (15,820 temporary residence permits were issued between 2010 and 2015). In September 2014, parliament doubled the minimum investment required to attain a temporary residence permit resulting in a significant drop in demand for these types of permits.

Rights for immigrants depend on the type of residency permit. Individuals holding a temporary residency permit are particularly vulnerable, as they do not qualify for public health care, legal aid or unemployment support. An individual holding a permanent residency permit or who has acquired long-term resident status within the European Union has the same rights as Latvian non-citizens. As of March 2010, all children, including children of migrant workers holding temporary residence permits, have access to free education. No restrictions are placed on the right to work for high-skilled migrant workers, foreign students or immigrants who have moved for family reasons. However, access to the local labor market is restricted for migrant workers who have obtained only a temporary residence permit. These individuals’ work rights are tied to the employer who invited them to Latvia. Temporary migrant workers do not have the ability to freely change employers or their position within the company.

Access to the labor market also depends on language proficiency, as a certain level of language skill is required by law for many professions. This is true of state and local government institutions as well as commercial companies in which the majority of capital shares are publicly owned. Moreover, in late 2017, politicians from the National Alliance party called for legislation to strengthen the importance of the Latvian language in the private (primarily service) sector.

In May 2013, Latvia adopted changes to its citizenship law that legalized dual citizenship with 38 countries. This will enable some permanent residents to retain their current citizenship if they choose to apply for Latvian citizenship.

Legislative obstacles restrict the ability of immigrants to participate in society. Migrants do not have voting rights in local elections and cannot be members of political associations. Third-country nationals with temporary residence permits cannot organize protests or marches.

In 2017, 395 persons applied for asylum in Latvia. Only 39 were granted refugee status and 259 received alternative status. Most people who were granted protection status were from Syria, Vietnam, Russia, Eritrea and Kazakhstan.
1. Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (2017). Statistics – Asylum seekers. Available at: Last assessed 30.12.2018

2. Policy Report: Migration and Asylum in Latvia 2015 (in Latvian). Kitija Kursa. European Migration Network. Last assessed 30.12.2018

3. Policy Brief: Immigration in Latvia. Dace Akule and Indra Mangule, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS (2014), Available at: Last assessed 30.12.2018

4. Migration Policy Group (2015), Migrant Integration Policy Index, Available at:, Last assessed: 30.12.2018.

5. Guidelines on National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy (2012 – 2018), Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 30.12.2018

5. The Saeima (2018), The Role of Immigration in Labour Security in Latvia (in Latvian), Available at:, Last assessed: 30.12.2018
Successive governments have done little to foster the integration of migrants into society by opening up health services and schools, offering anti-discrimination support or encouraging political participation. In June 2015, however, the National Assembly adopted new legislation on foreign employment that improved protections for foreign workers employed in Slovenia, and as of 1 September 2015, foreign workers receive a unified work and residency permit. As a result of the economic crisis, the number of work permits for foreigners dropped from 85,000 in 2008 to a mere 7,033 in 2016. Since 2017, it has once again increased, with 12,011 permits issued in the first eight months of 2018.

The Cerar government reacted to the inflow of almost 500,000 refugees from October 2015 to March 2016 by pushing for the closure of the Western Balkans route. It sought to reduce refugee protection by allowing for the rejection of migrants already at border crossings. More recently, however, Slovenia has softened its stance. In October 2018, the country’s first refugee resettlement program was completed. The refugees, who arrived from Turkey between July and October, included six Syrian families. Supported by the International Organization for Migration, they received comprehensive assistance.
International Organization for Migration (2018): Slovenia’s first refugee resettlement program completed after Arrival of last Syrian Family. Le Grand-Saconnex (
South Korea
Since the 1990s, South Korea has evolved from a net-emigration to a net-immigration society. In 2016, foreign nationals residing in Korea accounted for approximately 4% of the total population of 51 million. Within this foreign-national population, about 1 million come from China, with the share of Vietnam and U.S. nationals trailing well behind (at about 150,000 each). According to the Korean Statistical Information Service, almost 1 million residents live within multicultural families, making Korea an increasingly multicultural society. However, not all Koreans support this trend. The desire for a culturally and ethnically homogeneous Korea remains strong despite the country’s impressive cultural and in particular religious diversity. As in many other countries, public resistance to the acceptance of refugees from war-torn countries has increased in Korea, even though the total number of refugees received has been very small. In 2018, the arrival of about 500 refugees from Yemen led to hysterical reactions sparked by rumors about criminal activities and fears of terrorism that spread rapidly online. The government caved in to the protests, and denied the new arrivals refugee status, although 362 received a temporary humanitarian visa that allowed them to stay in Korea for one year. Since 1994, of the 40,400 non-Koreans who have applied for refugee status, only 2% have received it, prompting criticism by the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Despite the increasing population of migrants and citizens with a family background of migration, as well as improvements in the legal conditions and support provided to multicultural families, the country’s cultural, education and social policies still fail to systematically address the role of migrants in Korea. While ethnic Koreans with foreign passports, foreign investors and highly educated foreigners are welcomed and treated favorably, Amnesty International reports that migrant blue-collar workers are often treated as “disposable labor.” From a legal perspective, migrant workers are accorded rights very similar to those enjoyed by native Korean employees, but employers routinely infringe these rights. While courts have offered some protection to migrant workers, the government has not pursued active enforcement measures against employers that exploit the precarious status of migrant workers.
HanKyung. No. of Foreign Nationals Residing in Korea Exceeds 2 million in 2016. June 22, 2017.
Korea Herald, Multicultural familes left out in election, as always. May 3, 2017. Transformation into a Multicultural Society.
Sang-young Rhyu. “The Challenge of Social Integration in South Korea,” Global Asia, Vol.12, No.2 (Summer 2017), 30-35.
Yonhap News. Reasons for expecting new government multicultural policy. August 29, 2017.
Segye Daily.
Lee, Suh-Yoon. 2018. “Multicultural Children Still Face Discrimination at Schools.” Koreatimes.
Park, Ji-Won. 2018. “Foreigners with Voting Rights Being Ignored.”
Prior to the Trump presidency, on the basis of data provided by the Migrant Integration Policy Index, the United States was ranked ninth out of 31 analyzed countries with regard to overall integration policy, but first with respect to anti-discrimination laws and protection. The United States also ranked high on the access-to-citizenship scale, because it encourages immigrants to become citizens. Legal immigrants enjoy good (but often low-paid) employment opportunities and educational opportunities. However, the United States does less well with regard to family reunification. Many legal permanent residents cannot obtain visas for other family members.

A large fraction of the immigration to the United States has consisted of illegal immigrants, most of whom have crossed the border from Mexico and often have lived, worked and paid taxes in the United States for their entire adult lives without ever becoming legal residents. These illegal immigrants account for nearly one-third of the immigrant population, numbering 12 million to 15 million individuals or 3% to 4% of the country’s overall population. They have in effect been tolerated (or even virtually invited by the ease of illegal entry) for their economic contributions, often as agricultural workers or in low-paying service occupations. Children of illegal immigrants attend public schools and businesses that employ illegal immigrants have not been subject to effective sanctions. There have been bipartisan efforts to enact major immigration reforms, involving proposals that have combined more effective control of illegal entry with the legalization of many prior illegal entrants for several decades; but such efforts have not succeeded.

Events from 2016 to 2018 profoundly increased the insecurities faced by large numbers of immigrants. President Trump’s successful election campaign was based in large part on his opposition to immigration, especially from Mexico, the Middle East or other Muslim countries. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Trump has carried out a wide-ranging, aggressive attack on immigration – targeting illegal immigration in particular. Though his actions have often been overturned in federal courts, Trump has sought to ban the otherwise legal entry of individuals from eight mostly Muslim-majority countries and to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (which protects adults who were brought into the country illegally as children from deportation). In addition, he has declared his intention to abolish birthright citizenship (despite his lack of constitutional power to do so). Trump has insisted on his demands to build a wall on the Mexican border. In what has been an international human-rights scandal, his administration has separated more than 2,000 children from their parents who have entered the country, most often legally, in search of asylum. Trump has also threatened to withdraw permanent resident status from immigrants who draw on public assistance. So far, most of these reform proposals have been blocked by local courts and/or have not been implemented.

Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and his draconian – often unconstitutional – immigration measures have been popular with his base, which make up roughly 40% of those Americans who approve of his performance, but have been opposed by most Americans. His rhetoric and actions in this regard appear to have contributed to Republican losses in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. Nevertheless, the president’s hostility toward immigration will undoubtedly affect educational and job opportunities and other support for the integration of legal immigrants. Muslim, Latino and other immigrant communities have experienced a massive increase in uncertainty about their status and acceptance.
Migration Policy Institute (December 2017), Immigration under Trump: A Review of Policy Shifts in the Year Since the Election, (accessed December 2017)
In 2018, the labor force in Cyprus included 11.4% other-EU and 7.5% third-country nationals, a small reduction from 2017. This points to radical changes that took place since 1989, when the government first started granting temporary working permits to migrant workers. The flow of workers came initially from Southeast Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, while EU nationals followed after 2004. Despite policy changes and some recent integration projects, Cyprus is missing a comprehensive integration program.

Pressure on Cyprus from the EU and the Council of Europe have so far not achieved compliance with European standards. In addition, policies and official rhetoric on the problems of migrant and irregular migrant flows to the republic, creates a climate that impedes integration. The country scores poorly on most indicators, including labor-market access, culture and education, family reunion, political participation and access to citizenship. In its latest report (2016), the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended changes to laws and practices and the adoption of a comprehensive plan for the integration of various groups in the country.

In the framework of EU programs, local authorities are involved in integration projects. However, laws do not favor market access nor the long-term labor-market integration of migrants. Foreign workers enjoy limited rights in many areas, with non-EU citizens facing time limits on working permits that preclude any ability to obtain long-term resident status. Despite generally higher employment rates, the number of foreign workers decreased in 2017, probably because of their very high at risk of poverty or social exclusion rate: for non-EU citizens the risk in 2017 was 43.5%.

Recent policies that aim to provide education to all children as part of a compulsory education scheme and timid family-reunification policies remain insufficient for achieving their goals. Criteria for family reunification, such as full-time employment, high fees and limited access to the labor market by dependents, are in practice nullifying the reunification policy.

There are inconsistencies in policies toward migrants and opportunities offered to non-EU citizens to participate in democratic life and attain citizenship. Ordinary migrants are offered very limited opportunities, while the authorities are engaged in a massive sale of citizenship to very wealthy investors, an issue that worries Brussels.
1. State Department, Report on Human Rights for 2017, Cyprus, April 2018,
2. Council of Europe, ECRI Report on Cyprus, 2016,
Compared with other East-Central European countries, Czechia has experienced relatively high levels of immigration since EU accession, with the number continuing to slowly rise. From December 2017 to September 2018, the number of foreigners increased from 526,811 to 555,665 foreigners. The largest immigrant group consists of Ukrainians, followed by Vietnamese and Russians. Asylum applications are low, at 1,450 in 2017 with 29 asylum cases granted and 118 cases of supplementary protection for a predetermined period.

The central authority responsible for the area of asylum and migration in Czechia is the Ministry of the Interior. Within the Ministry, it is mainly the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy (DAMP) that is responsible for this area. The Ministry of Interior annually submits a report to the cabinet on the migration and integration of foreigners. Integration centers exist in all regions of Czechia. Some immigrant support has been provided over the years by municipal authorities and NGOs, with recent emphasis on language courses, social events and employment. However, the processing of residential applications of immigrants remains slow, and the acquisition of Czech citizenship remains complicated. Many foreign workers are employed in the shadow economy or by temp agencies, offering temporary and often unstable work with pay levels significantly below those of Czech employees. Even with the current labor force shortage, there is no evidence of any improvement.

Although Czechia is not located on one of the major routes used by refugees for coming to Western Europe, the European refugee crisis has stirred a strong and highly polarized debate on migration and integration. According to opinion polls (October 2018), 68% of the respondents stated that Czechia should not accept refugees from the countries affected by the war, while 24% of respondents believes the country should admit refugees until they can return to their country of origin. Only a minimal share of the respondents (2%) stated that Czechia should accept the refugees and let them settle there.
Hanzlová, R. (2018): Attitude of Czech Public to Accepting of Refugees – October 2018. Prague: Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) (
The legal status of immigrants in Israel is based on the Law of Return (1950), the Law of Citizenship (1952) and the Law of Entrance to Israel (1952). These constitute strict conditions for gaining citizenship, allowing Jewish immigration to receive a permanent legal status as part of the Zionist vision. While still relevant, it is unable to offer a constructive framework for dealing with current global immigration challenges including Palestinian or African immigration to Israel. In the absence of a coherent framework for general immigration, immigration policy is de facto established by ad hoc decisions, harming the state and immigrants alike. For example, Israel’s Supreme Court recently issued an order to all employers of illegal immigrants to pay a retroactive 20% tax, imposing a serious financial burden for many small businesses.

In February 2016, the Knesset passed the government’s fourth policy in the last few years addressing African migrants who arrive in Israel illegally. The policy permits the placement of migrants in a combination of closed and open detention centers for up to 12 months. In May 2017, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the deportation of illegal immigrants to a third country, making further appeals against the practice unlikely to succeed despite its controversial nature.

There are approximately 40,000 illegal immigrants in Israel. In December 2017, the Knesset approved a program backed by the Netanyahu government, which would have paved the way for forced deportations to a third country to begin in April 2018. However, the program failed because the destination country denied any agreement with Israel on the matter. Following that, Israel achieved a similar deportation agreement with UNHCR. However, this agreement was also canceled because of internal coalition disputes based on a common perception that the UNHCR agreement was the result of pressure from left-wing organizations. In October 2018, a member of the coalition proposed an amendment to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. The amendment proposes to exempt laws on illegal immigration from human rights-based judicial reviews. The proposal is currently halted.

Policies in recent years have mainly included tax breaks and subsidies. Individual committees have been formed to study the social aspects of immigration, with the aim of improving working methods. However, as noted by the Knesset’s Committee for “immigration, absorption and diaspora affairs,” a relatively small proportion of these committees’ recommendations is implemented.
Times of Israel, “Israel freezes deportations of asylum-seekers after court challenge,” 15.03.2018:

Bar-On, Guy, “The Only Country that Fines Refugees,” The Marker, 24.9.2017,

Dressler, Tamar, “Going in and out: the broken dreams of the new Tzabars,” Maariv, 13/02/2018 (Hebrew):

“Enlarged assistance to native Ethiopians,” The Ministry of Construction and Housing website (Hebrew)

“Foreigners who cannot be deported from Israel,” State comptroller, 2014 (Hebrew):

Leshem, Elazar, “The Reform in the Absorption Policy”16.8.2007,

Lior, Ilan, “Israel Jails Hundreds of African Asylum-Seekers Without Trial Every Year,” Haaretz 24.9.2017,

“Towards deportation of ”Illegals”: how many were approved asylum from the third world?,” “the day that was” department, Nana10 news, 04/01/2018 (Hebrew):

Rosenberg, David, “Israel prepares to deport African infiltrators, issues warnings,” 04.02.2018,

Kershner, Isabel, “Israel Moves to Expel Africans. Critics Say That’s Not Jewish“, 02.02.2018,

Weiss, Uri, “Immigrants are on their way out of the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty,” Haaretz, 28.10.2018 (Hebrew):
Malta’s geographical location places it at the center of migration flows from Africa to Europe. On a per capita basis, the island receives a relatively high number of migrants and asylum seekers, with the numbers having increased drastically over the last decade. In 2017 and 2018, Malta received 168 refugees and asylum seekers from Italy and Greece – more than the 131 it legally committed to accept under the EU relocation program.

Malta has begun to consolidate its policy approach to integration only recently, with a migrant integration policy launched at the end of 2017. Under the current government, the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality is responsible for the integration of migrants. The new Human Rights and Integration Directorate unit within this ministry is responsible for the provision of integration courses including Maltese, and English, as well as the cultural-orientation classes, awareness campaigns and spearhead measures listed in the Migrant Integration Action Plan. However, teacher training in this area needs to be stepped up. Notable among these measures is the ability granted to long-term migrants to apply for residency permits. Meanwhile, the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers is responsible for the provision of some services, including employment, housing, education, health care and welfare information. The agency is also a facilitator between public services, and serves as a pre-integration functionary. The office of Refugee Commissioner spearheads important initiatives such as the new initial reception centers, the creation of a work registration system, and detention-policy reform.

The number of migrants granted subsidiary or humanitarian protections is very high and UNHCR figures indicate a rejection rate of 12.5% for the year 2017. In 2016, the government introduced a new migration strategy which terminated the practice of automatic detention. Moreover, refugees and asylum-seekers granted protection are eligible for unemployment benefits. Maltese legislation has now been brought in line with EU Directive 2003/86, and the relevant domestic law was amended in 2017 to facilitate family reunification, especially in the case of refugees. These reforms aim to lessen the hardship on migrants seeking work and their own accommodation. Furthermore, the Malta Declaration was signed by all EU state leaders in February 2017 as the first step toward concrete solutions to combat illegal migrant routes in the Mediterranean. At a recent public consultation, the French Minister for European Affairs commended Malta for its role on the issue of migration long before it became a key European concern. In his recent address to the UN General Assembly, the prime minister highlighted the UN’s Global Compact for Migration as an important milestone, and Malta has now endorsed it. However, he also called for a broader global response to human trafficking networks in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department report stated that Malta does not have minimum standards for the elimination of human traffic. Stand-offs between Malta and Italy related to migrant search and rescue areas occur regularly.

Evidence of poverty and homelessness among migrants indicates the need for government to allocate more resources to this group. The risk of poverty for migrants increased by 9% between 2010 and 2016, reaching 29.4%. The incidence of rent-related exploitation has also increased. Integration difficulties in communities with large migrant populations remain especially pronounced, and Malta has been urged by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance to consolidate its efforts in the area of migrant integration. This may prove to be problematic given that 63% of Maltese think that immigration is a problem; moreover, the country’s native population is among the least likely to interact with migrants across the European Union.

In December 2018, Minister for European Affairs and Equality Helena Dalli proposed an extension of voting rights in local elections to third-country nationals. However, the cabinet did not support the proposal. The issue of citizenship for the children of asylum-seekers born in Malta also needs to be urgently reassessed. These children currently have no right to citizenship. Malta has signed but not ratified the European Convention on Nationality to address the acquisition of citizenship through naturalization. According to Education Ministry statistics, some school districts contain between 50% and 70% immigrant children from European or other countries. If the government does not plan for the future, the lack of integration will become a major problem.
Commission Staff Working Document - Country Report Malta 2018 SWD (2018) 216 final p.26
The Malta Independent 15/012/2017 Equality Minister Helena Dalli launches migrant integration policy
The Malta Independent 22/03/2018 Human Rights and Integration Directorate awarded €2 million project
The Malta Independent 15/12/2018 Long-term migrants to be able to apply for permanent residence permit under new integration programme /en/MHAS-Departments/awas/Pages/AWAS.aspx
Times of Malta 30/10/2016 ‘We are dealing with humans not categories’ - New Refugee Commissioner interviewed
Times of Malta 03/01/2016 New migration strategy is a step in right direction – NGOs
Malta Today 02/11/2018 Nathalie Loiseu: ‘Malta is not alone anymore’
Times of Malta 06/09/2018 Malta again fails to take action to fight human trafficking - US State Department
Malta Today 26/09/2018 Is there no solution for down-and-out migrants in Marsa?
Malta Today 15/05/2018 Malta urged to do more on migrant integration by Council of Europe anti-racism body
The Malta Independent 20/08/2018 Updated (2): EU seeks hosts for migrants amid new Italy, Malta standoff
The People for change foundation (2017) Ethnic Minorities Beyond Migration: The Case of Malta.
The People for change Foundations Migration in Malta 2016 Report
Aditus, NGO Submissions to the Public Consultation on National Migration Integration Strategy 2015 –2020
Times of Malta 15/07/18 Teachers schooling migrants to help them integrate not given the right training
Amnesty International report: Malta 2017/2018
Bulgaria does not have a developed policy for integrating migrants. According to estimates, the share of migrants in the total population amounts to less than 1%, with most migrants being people of traditional Bulgarian origin from neighboring countries.

The influx of refugees in the wake of the Syrian crisis has demonstrated that accommodations for the migrants have been extremely poor; food, clothing and heating have been generally insufficient; and no real attempts have been undertaken to integrate migrants into the local society. The rhetoric of the junior coalition government partner, the United Patriots (an alliance of three nationalistic and xenophobic parties), has become increasingly anti-immigrant.

Bulgaria’s policy is focused on trying to prevent migrants from entering the country rather than improving the coordination of and mechanisms for accommodating and integrating them. In fact, the country continues to pursue segregation in areas such as education, where language proficiency requirements prevent most refugee/migrant children from enrolling in school, and the presence of nationalists in the government has increased this tendency.
Migration to Croatia is largely limited to ethnic Croats from neighboring countries, who are de facto integrated and have citizenship and equal access to labor market, social system and education. Other groups of migrants are very small and there is no policy directed at integrating them. Integration is complicated by weak inter-sectoral cooperation of institutions responsible for carrying out immigration issues with local communities and civil society organizations. The treatment of returnees from among the 200,000 Croat citizens of Serbian ethnicity expelled from the country in 1995 represents a significant gap in migration policy. Many refugees have not been able to return to Croatia, as they were stripped of their rights to socially owned housing after the war.

Since 2016, Croatia has drifted away from its originally relatively compassionate and humane treatment of refugees taking the Balkan route. The closing of the borders in Hungary and other neighboring countries has created fears that the country might become a rallying point for refugees. The police have tried hard to prevent the thousands of migrants gathering in the northwestern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina (the greater area of the city of Bihać) to enter the country. Only 425 persons sought asylum in Croatia in 2018, 6% more than in 2017.
The refugee crisis has proven that Hungary is still primarily a transit country with only a small number of migrants who want to stay in the country. The fragile economic situation, low wages, a difficult language and a government-orchestrated xenophobic public climate are deterrents. The Orbán government has fiercely refused the integration of non-Europeans and non-Christians as a lethal danger to Hungarian national culture and identity. The Orbán government’s tough stance on refugees contrasts with the government’s generous Hungarian Investment Immigration Program. In this framework, non-EU citizens can get Hungarian passports for investing in the country. So far, the government has collected €403 million from these residency bonds issued for twenty thousand persons, many of them from China and Russia. This business has been organized by the Antal Rogán, the head of prime minister’s cabinet office, and managed by Fidesz close offshore companies accumulating a large amount of private profit from this business. Because of protest against this nontransparent scheme, the business was allegedly suspended, but still seems to be going on in some ways.
Helpers HU (2018): Hungarian Investment Immigration Program. Budapest (
In spite of its aging and shrinking population (which is forecast to fall by more than half to 52 million by 2100 if the current low birth rate persists and immigration remains heavily restricted), Japan still maintains a restrictive immigration policy, although the number of legal foreign residents hit a record high of 2.38 million at the end of 2016. A total of 1.28 million foreign workers were living in the country in October 2017.

Bilateral economic-partnership pacts have at least allowed Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caregivers to enter Japan on a temporary basis since 2008.

The LDP-led government has relaxed some immigration restrictions with the aim of attracting highly skilled foreign professionals. Under a new program dubbed the “green card for highly skilled professionals,” it is possible to apply for permanent residence after residing in Japan for five years.

In mid-2018, Prime Minister Abe announced plans to allow about 70,000 workers into Japan annually through 2025, for a total of about 500,000. In the low-skilled sector, a new five-year residential status will be granted under certain conditions.

The Japanese government still appears reluctant to embrace the idea of a full-fledged immigration policy. The nationalistic viewpoints held by many LDP lawmakers pose particular challenges. Against this background, there is little integration policy as such, with the government working to facilitate short-term foreign-work stays rather than long-term immigration. Local governments and NGOs offer language courses and other assistance to foreign residents, but such support often remains rudimentary, especially outside the metropolitan centers.
Himeda Konatsu, Easier Permanent Residency for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals – Is Japan Ready?,, 11 April 2017,

The Economist, Japan is finally starting to admit foreign workers, 5 July 2018,

Kyodo News, Japan sees foreign workers climb to record 1.28 million as labor crunch continues, The Japan Times, 27 January 2018,
Mexican integration policy remains weak to nonexistent. The dominant cultural narrative in Mexico tends to assume that migration means emigration. Mexico was and remains a major source of emigration, but has not effectively addressed problems related to immigration that have been steadily increasing during the last 15 to 20 years. There are serious problems related to migrants entering Mexico from Central America, with most seeking entry to the United States and a minority wanting to stay in Mexico. Few are able to acquire formal documentation. In their desperation, such people are often preyed upon by criminals or even recruited into local drug gangs. Homicide rates are also high among this group. The Mexican authorities mostly do not welcome this kind of immigration and do their best to discourage it. However, there is no effective integration, transit or migration policy to deal with these issues. Mexican authorities also downplay the incidence of criminal attacks on Central American immigrants, although the international media has cast a spotlight on this population’s predicament.

International media also covered the situation of a caravan of immigrants that travelled from Honduras, in late 2018, and attempted to pass through Mexico to the U.S. border. Since the U.S. government is pursuing a very strict immigration regime under President Trump, there is a risk that illegal camps of migrants will form at the Mexico-U.S. border, which could grow rapidly. This could provoke strong negative reaction in the population.

Additionally, since 2016 a wave of Haitian immigrants increased pressure on northern cities to guarantee their safety while they waited to cross the border to the U.S. In 2017, many of those immigrants remained in Mexico as the U.S. stopped granting them immigration hearings. About 3,000 of them stayed in Mexico’s northern cities, supported by non-governmental organizations that maintain shelters. These organizations have also advocated for the respect of human rights and for the government to follow due process. However, this has not changed the securitized perspective the federal government holds on the issue. Most of the Haitians were deported back to Haiti.

More efforts are also needed in the integration of young “returnees:” young Mexican nationals or children of Mexican nationals who come to Mexico after living in the United States, either voluntarily or through deportation. This issue becomes particularly relevant as the Trump administration decided to terminate DACA. Many of these students are not fluent in Spanish and have problems integrating into Mexican schools since they have studied under a different school system utilizing different teaching and evaluation methodologies. The Mexican education system is not ready to provide sufficient resources to improve these students’ language skills and their sense of belonging. As the Trump administration tightens migration policies, Mexico can expect an increase in young returnees. It must be ready to successfully integrate them in the education system through specialized programs and resources.
Until 2015, issues related to Poland as a sending country featured far more prominently on the political agenda than issues related to Poland as a receiving country of migrants. In 2018, about 2.5 million Poles were living abroad, 4.7% more than in 2015. Migration to Poland has been relatively low, Ukrainians and Vietnamese make up the largest group of migrants to the country, with the number of Ukrainians working in Poland estimated at one million. But when Europe faced a larger influx of migrants than usual in the summer of 2015, Poland was one of the countries that objected to the relocation and integration of refugees and other migrants, especially from countries with a predominantly Muslim population. In many public speeches and on other occasions, PiS representatives denounced Muslim immigrants as potential terrorists, health risks and a threat to Polish culture and society. In 2017, the parliament amended the Act on Foreigners with a view to making the domestic institutional framework for dealing with immigrants harsher again. Asylum-seekers – 95% of whom come from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine – are held in guarded shelters until a decision on their applications is taken. The Catholic Church, which initially had not been very supportive to refugees, seems to have changed its position. On several occasions, priests have publicly asked for more solidarity with refugees. However, surveys show that the population is quite hesitant to accept incoming refugees, although Ukrainians and Russians are comparatively welcome as migrants. After the decision of the European Court of Justice in September 2017 that confirmed the legality of the Council of the European Union’s decision to relocate refugees within Europe, Poland and the other Visegrád countries contested the decision, and continued to refuse to accept refugees. The Polish government also opposed the UN Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was signed in Marrakesh in December 2018.
While the share of foreigners in the Slovak population is still relatively low compared to most other EU countries, the inflow of migrants has increased in recent years due to a shortage of labor. The 105,000 foreigners living in Slovakia in 2017 accounted for 1.92% of the population. More than half were workers; about 40% of came from Austria, the Czechia, Hungary, Poland or Ukraine. Although the Slovakian economy desperately needs foreign labor, successive governments have failed to formulate a clear integration policy. During the 2016 election campaign, Prime Minister Fico instrumentalized the issue of migration and fueled anti-refugee sentiments by implicitly linking refugees to the threat of terrorism. In the context of the EU refugee crisis, his government opposed mandatory quotas for distributing refugees within the European Union. It even filed a lawsuit against the European Council for adopting the quota mechanism in December 2015, which was eventually dismissed by the European Court of Justice in September 2017.

Since Fico’s resignation, the government has softened its strong anti-immigration stance. At the EU Summit in June 2018, new Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini agreed to accept 1,200 migrants. Moreover, the government has announced plans to ease foreign access to the Slovak labor market. First measures include the removal of the obligation to provide evidence of education for certain professions, a reduction in the number of documents needed to obtain a work permit, as well as a more frequent updating of the list of vacant jobs. However, the state administration still enjoys a high degree of discretion in granting permission for recruitment of workers from non-EU countries.
International Organization for Migration / Office for the Slovak Republic (2018): Migration in Slovakia. Bratislava (
Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
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