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

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
Now receiving over 300,000 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. Immigrants’ labor-market integration is impeded by a number of factors, including difficulties 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. In spite of these challenges, 2018 saw an increase in employment rates among immigrants of 4.6%. In fact, according to Stats Canada, net employment growth over the last five years has been accounted for almost entirely by immigrants.
Andrew Sharpe (2019) “Labor Market Performance of Immigrants in Canada, 2006-2018,” CSLS Research Report, forthcoming (Ottawa: Centre for the Study of Living Standards).
New Zealand
New Zealand has long been a prime destination for immigrants. In the 2013 census, more than a million people reported that they were born overseas, just under a quarter of New Zealand’s population of almost four and a half million. The overseas-born figure is 37% in Auckland, the country’s biggest city, making it as diverse as London on this measure.

Integration of immigrants is promoted through settlement support. There is more intensive support for refugees, but other migrants also have access to high-quality information services (online and through the Citizens Advice Bureau network) as well as ongoing language and employment programs. New legislation was enacted in 2015 to ensure that migrant workers had the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand.

Data from the New Zealand General Social Survey reflects the country’s willingness to promote integration. Immigrants are less likely to claim benefits, more likely to be employed, and their children have better education outcomes than native born New Zealanders. There is relatively little ethnic or migrant clustering, and where concentrations do occur there is no indication of high unemployment. Some 87% of migrants say they feel they belong to New Zealand. Surveys show New Zealanders, too, have a generally positive view of migrants, and value the contribution they make to the economy and the cultural diversity they bring.
Immigration Amendment Act 2015: (accessed October 24, 2015).
Ipsos, What New Zealanders think of immigration (
NZ Stats, New Zealand General Social Survey (
The bailout was accompanied by a decline in immigration. Though since 2016 the resident foreign population has increased at an accelerating rate. After a 2% increase in the immigrant population in 2016, it increased 6% in 2017 and 15% in 2018, the year for which the most recent data is available. By all accounts, this increase is set to continue at pace in 2019.

In previous SGI 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. Thus, as detailed in the previous SGI report, the most recent OSCE Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual highlights a number of good practices in Portugal.

In April 2018, parliament approved several amendments to the naturalization laws. Overall, these changes – which are detailed in the previous SGI report – make naturalization easier.

This change in the legislation has seen a rise in the number of requests for Portuguese nationality, which increased by some 50% between 2016 and 2018, from 117,629 to 176,285.

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 2019 indicated that Portugal had received the sixth highest number of refugees as part of the EU resettlement program.
Governo de Portugal (2019), “Dia Mundial do Refugiado – nota à comunicação social,” available online at:

Lei Orgânica nº 2/2018 [Law no. 2/2018], available online at:

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

OSCE (2018), Good Practices in Migrant Integration: Trainee’s Manual, available online at:

Pordata (2019), “População estrangeira com estatuto legal de residente: total e por algumas nacionalidades,” available online at:

Público (2019), “Pedidos de nacionalidade portuguesa aumentaram 50% em dois anos,” 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. Nearly 30% 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. 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. Integration via the labor market has been a key factor in the integration of migrants.

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. A rising level of skepticism toward migration is evident in the country, which may have helped Prime Minister Morrison, who promised a cap on migration, to win the last election.

Despite Australia’s highly selective immigration policy, an ongoing concern relates to asylum-seekers who have usually arrived 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, about 25% of the people living in Germany have a migrant background. This translates into 20.8 million persons, and represents an annual increase of 2.5% from 2017 to 2018. This increase is consistent with the trend seen over the last decade (apart from the exceptionally high numbers in 2015 – 2016 in the context of the refugee crisis) (Statistisches Bundesamt 2019).

According to the OECD (2013), reforms passed in the early 2010s “put Germany among the OECD countries with the fewest restrictions on labor migration for highly skilled occupations.” In 2014, the government introduced the right to dual citizenship. This reform abolished the requirement for most children born in Germany to non-German parents to decide between the citizenship of their birth and the citizenship of their parents.

The number of asylum applications has strongly decreased after 2016’s peak of 745,545, falling to an estimated 114,165 in 2019 (Statista 2019). Despite this normalization, migration remains one of the country’s top political issues, with a lasting impact on German politics. Since the refugee crisis of 2015 – 2016, the xenophobic AfD has gained seats in all state parliaments, and even became the third-strongest party in the 2017 Bundestag election. Moreover, the party was able to increase its vote shares in the subsequent Länder elections in 2018 and 2019.

Governments at the federal and state levels, with additional strong involvement by the municipalities and civil society, have responded to the challenges posed by the high number of refugee arrivals since 2015 in an impressive way. The federal government’s financial strength allowed it to substantially increase financial support for states and municipalities, while also providing early integration and language courses. These policies were followed by attempts to restrict and regulate the influx of refugees both through national and EU initiatives, including the refugee pact with Turkey in which the EU agreed to provide financial support to host Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the Turkish authorities in exchange agreed to prevent refugees from entering EU territory.

While Germany has thus handled the short-run challenges remarkably well, the long-term challenge of integration remains a crucial concern, including the successful integration of the refugees and asylum-seekers into both the education system and labor market. However, recent data confirm that the 2015 refugees have been integrated into the German labor market more easily than many expected (Tagesschau 2019). In autumn 2019, about 40% of refugees from the main countries of origin (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran) were already in employment, mostly in regular employment with full social security coverage. However, labor-market integration has been much slower for women refugees than for their male counterparts. The OECD recently praised the effectiveness of Germany’s dual vocational training system as having been successful in providing migrants with professional qualifications and bringing them into skilled employment (Handelsblatt 2019).

Much will ultimately depend on whether the process of broader cultural integration will succeed. So far, German civil society remains generally in favor of a society open to migrants. However, there is a danger of strengthening xenophobia if problems of cultural alienation and safety concerns grow. A further stress factor for integration as resulted from political developments in Turkey, where the weakening of democratic institutions and civil liberties under the Erdogan government have served to polarize Turkish communities in Germany. This has resulted in divergent perceptions of the importance of free media, the rule of law and the separation of powers (values enshrined in the German constitution), raising concerns about an absence of common values.

The German Islam Conference, established in 2016, is a key platform for dialogue with Muslim organizations in Germany. The German coalition government shifted its approach toward the Islam Conference at the end of November 2018, and is currently focusing on a new program called Mosques for Integration (Moscheen für Integration), as well as the education of Muslim theologians in German universities (Deutsche Islamkonferenz 2018).
BAMF 2019: Aktuelle Zahlen zu Asyl, Oktober 2019:

bpb (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) (2019)

Deutsche Islamkonferenz (2018):

Handelslbatt (2019): OECD lobt deutsche Integration durch Ausbildung, 17.12.2019.

Statistisches Bundesamt (2019):

Statista (2019):

Tagesschau (2019):
Luxembourg’s working population by origin breaks down as follows:

• 29.4% – resident non-Luxembourgers
• 27.3% – resident Luxembourgers
• 21.9% – commuters from France
• 10.7% – commuters from Germany
• 10.5% – commuters from Belgium

The country’s migrant population has grown continuously since the Second World War. Today, around 85% of migrants are citizens of the European Union, with 90% of resident migrants being of European descent. Most other highly qualified migrants have come either from Russia, Canada or the United States. 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.

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, whether they are citizens of the EU or third countries, 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.
Zimmer, Paul: “Die Grenzgänger,” CGFP, fonction publique, numéro 33, septembre 2019, page 11.

“L’école du succès, une chance pour tous.” Ministre de l’éducation nationale. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.
Integration policy is fairly well-organized and well-funded in Norway, but there are shortcomings in the integration of immigrants and policies have to date been less than fully effective. The key policy target is to ensure access to education and employment for immigrants.

While people with an immigrant background in Norwegian sports and culture have become hugely popular, non-Western immigrants continue to suffer higher unemployment rates and are paid less than native Norwegians. There are complaints of discrimination in both the labor and housing markets, as well as in day-to-day life. Nonetheless, Norway has proved more successful than many other OECD countries in terms of integrating immigrants into the labor market.

Immigration and integration policies have been the subject of debate and played a key role in the 2017 parliamentary elections. There has been some social unrest on the part second- and third-generation immigrants who continue to face discrimination.

Right-wing extremism has been most notably manifest in the 2011 terrorist attacks carried out by the self-proclaimed white supremacist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in one day: eight people in Oslo and 69 attendees at a Labor Party youth on the island of Utoeya. In August 2019, another right-wing extremist gunman stormed a mosque but failed to hit anyone with his gunfire.

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 particularly strong anti-immigration policy. At the same time, the political consensus has been to pursue a “fair but strict” immigration policy.

Integration policies include free language training and additional school resources that are 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. Applicants for citizenship 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.

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 having achieved integration and equity. 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 July 2019, there were about 800,000 immigrants and descendants of immigrants living in Denmark, or 13.8% of the population (9% immigrants, 5% descendants). Roughly two-thirds of immigrants are from non-western countries.

Immigration rules have been tightened since the 2002, including the family reunification rule introduced in 2004. Since peaking in 2015, immigration from countries outside the European Union has fallen, while immigration from within the European Union for work remains very important.

The employment rate of immigrants and their descendants aged 16 to 64 is low compared to other groups, though it has 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 22% lower than that of ethnic Danes in 2019 (for descendants the gap is 16%). The gap is higher for women (24%) than for men (19%). For immigrants from Western countries, the gap is about 11% (for descendants about 6%). Though the gaps in employment rates should be viewed in light of high employment rates in Denmark for both men and women, the high qualification requirements for securing a job and the high minimum wage.

An increasing proportion of immigrants report feeling more integrated and having more Danish friends, with fewer saying they have experienced discrimination. In addition, many more immigrants speak Danish than ever before. Half of male refugees are in work within three years and children of refugees are integrating into Danish schools faster than in the past. The combination of a strong economy and active integration policies are starting to produce improvements.

Concerning educational achievements, immigrants and their descendants – especially girls – are making progress. For the age group 25 to 34 years old, 80% of women with Danish ethnicity and 67% of women with a foreign background, and 73% of men with Danish ethnicity and 49% of men with a foreign background have completed secondary education.

There is broad political support for tight immigration policies and various measures have been introduced to reduce immigration (also for family unification) in recent years. 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 former government planned to maintain the temporary border control until control over the Schengen area’s external borders had improved. Special initiatives to tackle the creation of parallel societies, which have high rates of crime and promote anti-Danish values, were introduced. Rejected asylum-seekers will be returned. Denmark stopped receiving so-called quota refugees through the United Nations, even though some municipalities declared that they were ready to receive more. The new Social Democrat government, which came to power in June 2019, has announced that Denmark will start taking quota refugees again. The Social Democratic party has committed itself to a strict immigration policy, which allowed it to capture votes from the Danish People’s Party. However, the other parties in the “red” block, especially the Social Liberals, are in favor of a more liberal immigration policy.

While nearly everybody expected immigration policy to be the main topic in both the European Parliament election in May 2019 and the June 2019 national election, the main topic turned out to be climate change. The Danish People’s Party, which had no environmental policy, suffered stunning defeats in both elections.

Another controversial issue has been the question of attracting qualified workers from abroad, which is arguably more a labor market policy issue. The rules for this type of immigration are debated in the context of the currently low unemployment rate. The new government has indicated that opportunities for recruiting qualified workers will be improved.
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.

“Retfærdig retning for Danmark,” (accessed 15 October 2019)
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.

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 2018, the share of the population with a foreign background grew from 0.8% to 7.3%. 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 the labor-market participation rate was a key target of the government’s Future of Migration 2020 Strategy and 2016 Action Plan. While Finland has received a fair share of asylum-seekers on a per capita basis, the country is not considered to be among the top destinations for immigrants. This is the result of various factors. 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 (then called the True Finns) used its cabinet position as a platform to fan anti-immigrant sentiments. Several demonstrations by anti-immigrant protesters against refugee accommodations turned violent. According to a recent poll, 47% of the population is in favor if immigration, whereas 41% is negatively disposed toward it. At the same time, however, attitudes are highly dependent on the country of origin of the immigrants in question. In general, respondents were much more positive toward immigration from the EU, North America and Asia than immigration from Africa and the Middle East.
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 Center for Pensions, Studies 06/2016. Helsinki: Finnish Center for Pensions;
Elli Heikkilä and Selena Peltonen, “Immigrants and Integration in Finland,” Institute of Migration, Turku.
Kunnallisalan kehittämissäätiö:
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 66,881 foreign-born residents living in the country on 1 July 2019, the majority of which were citizens of Ukraine, Russia or Belarus. In total, foreign nationals represented around 2.4% of the country’s population. Immigration of foreign nationals to Lithuania remains rare but is increasing year by year. For instance, from mid-2018 to mid-2019, there was a net increase of 23% in the number of foreign-born residents living in Lithuania. 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 or other EU destinations. In November 2019, five people who received asylum and 137 who had applied for asylum were living in refugee reception centers. A total of 192 people who had been granted asylum and 154 who had been reallocated from other EU countries were participating in municipality integration programs.

Most foreigners come to Lithuania from either Ukraine or Belarus, both former republics of the Soviet Union. For this reason, their integration into Lithuanian society has not been very difficult, with most taking up jobs in sectors suffering a labor shortage, such as truck driving or construction. However, the fact that the majority of new asylum-seekers are likely to come from Syria, Iraq or 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. Most immigrants are first-generation, as in the case of Latin Americans, share a common language and cultural links with the native population. 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 September 2019 by CIS, the country’s official statistics agency, only 11.8% of Spaniards listed immigration as one of their main concerns (15.6% in September 2018). Violent attacks on immigrant groups are very rare, and in contrast to most comparable EU member states. However, in December 2018, the xenophobic populist party Vox won seats in the Parliament of Andalusia, and in the national parliament and other regional parliaments in 2019.

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 2019 has been very low. Migratory pressure had been increasing since 2017. Nevertheless, in 2018, the PSOE-government decided to accept humanitarian vessels that had been rejected by Malta and Italy, such as the Aquarius NGO vessel. In 2019, the caretaker PSOE government adopted tougher measures – including pushback policies at the land borders between the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, and Morocco – and prevented NGO-run humanitarian ships from sailing to the central Mediterranean. However, Spain is no longer the main Mediterranean route for undocumented migrants, with arrivals falling from 64,298 in 2018 to 24,159 in 2019 mainly due to efforts by the Moroccan authorities.
Migrant Integration Policy Index (2015)
El Pais, 17.10.2019 Spanish government reduces irregular immigration by half,
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. The number of asylum-seekers increased further in 2019. By end of September 2019, 89,000 asylum-seekers had been granted permanent residency.

For 2020, the prognosis is that 20,000 – 30,000 asylum-seekers will arrive in Sweden, many of whom will arrive as part of the family reunification program. Permanent residency was granted to about 120,000 refugees between 2015 and 2017. These provisions, however, are widely debated in public and parliamentary discussions. Sweden offers permanent residency for unaccompanied children and for Syrian families with children.

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.
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 Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX, 2015) ranks Switzerland 21 out of 38 countries. There is a substantial variation in integration by groups of migrants. In 2017, 39% of migrants from northern and Western Europe were members of voluntary associations and groups as compared to about 50% of Swiss citizens without a migration background. In contrast, such membership applies to less than 20% of those from southern and eastern European 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, about 42,500 foreigners were granted Swiss citizenship in 2018, with Germans and Italians comprising the largest groups. 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 2018, about 2.0 % 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-wing 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 healthcare. 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. However, apart from the occasional provocation, they have not managed to initiate a substantial debate on the issue of integration. Although the dominant concern during the review period seemed to be over growing levels of income inequality, there are still widely shared concerns over growing polarization and radicalization on both sides of the political spectrum.

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. The many problems with this system will be addressed by a new law in 2020.

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. Second- and third-generation migrants are less likely to find employment and earn significantly less than their native-born counterparts – up to 20% less for men and up to 35% for women. Recent research shows that ethnic discrimination in the labor market is widespread and difficult to address. Muslim citizens self-report experiences with and perceptions of discrimination, as well as incidents of harassment and violence, at levels quite high by comparison with other European counties. Rampant discrimination, racism and Islamophobia in the police force were recently revealed by a series of whistleblowers in response to inadequate responses by top police officials.
Migrant Integration Policy Index 2015. Integration Policies: who benefits? ( licy-brief.pdf consulted 5 november 20190

Burgerperspectieven 2019|3, Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (, consulted November 2, 2019)

Nederlands Jeugdinstituut, Jeugdwerkloosheid, 29 oktober 2019

Dossier Asiel, migratie en integratie, CBS, 8 october 2019

CBS, Jaarrapport integratie 2018

Migrantenkinderen verdienen minder, NRC Next, June 13, 2019

‘Moslimfobie, intimidatie bij politie – en de top kijkt weg’, NRC Next, July 13, 2019
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. In October 2014, Turkey adopted the Temporary Protection Regulation, which defines the rights, obligations and procedures for people granted temporary protection in Turkey.

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 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and 365,000 persons of concern from 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 about 4% of Syrian refugees in refugee camps equipped with education, healthcare and social services, while 96% of refugees live in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. The number of people living in refugee camps is about 155,000. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, it is estimated that Turkey has spent tens of billions in U.S. dollars on healthcare, education, nutrition, social and other services for refugees. Though there is considerable uncertainty about how much money has been spent and on what, as the credibility of official figures and statements has been widely questioned by legal institutions and the opposition.

Resentment among large segments of the Turkish public toward Syrian refugees has increased recently. 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 65,000 work permits have been issued to date. According to Kirişçi and Kolasin (2019), an estimated 500,000 to one million Syrians are working informally in Turkey.

By invading northern Syria in 2018 and 2019, and controlling border territories through proxy forces, Turkey has been working on establishing “safe zones” for resettling Syrian refugees. However, these military interventions have been widely criticized by the international community for breaking international law, and for increasing insecurity and instability in a region where warfare has persisted. According to the Interior Ministry, some 360,000 refugees had returned to Syria from Turkey as of September 2019, although it is unclear whether these refugees returned to their localities of origin. Overall, the feasibility and sustainability of Turkey’s resettlement plans remain to be seen, although doubts remain widespread. Further, the strong notion of resettlement ambitions in political discourses may undermine efforts to integrate migrants and refugees in Turkey.
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.

Kirisci, K., J. Brandt and M. Erdoğan (2018) ‘Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Beyond the Numbers,’ Brookings, Washington, D.C. (2019) Mystery surrounds Turkey’s $40 billion refugee bill, 2 November 2 2019,
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 has risen strongly. The Michel government heralded a policy of toughness vis-à-vis immigrants and political refugees.

In December 2018, the signing of the U.N. pact on migration sparked a controversy that brought down the government coalition. The N-VA, the right-wing conservative member of the government, pulled out at the last minute in the hope of collapsing the government and triggering immediate elections. Given that elections were scheduled for May 2019, the other parties in the coalition decided to maintain a minority government, relying on external support in the parliament. The May 2019 elections resulted in a significant rise for the extreme right in Flanders, in the wake of a campaign in which immigration issues remained central. The recently formed Flemish government announced that it was withdrawing from UNIA (formerly the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism).

Though legally recognized as Belgian citizens, second and third generation immigrants have also become victims of these tensions. The OECD and the European Semester have repeatedly underlined the dismal performance of Belgian schools, based on PISA scores, with regards to the educational performance of students with a migrant background. In its June 2019 recommendations, the Council of the European Union reports that “People with a migrant background, in particular women, continue to experience higher unemployment, lower activity rates, higher in-work poverty and over-qualification.” According to EU-SILC data, the risk of poverty among foreign-born residents is three times higher than for native-born citizens, which increases to four times higher for non-EU-born residents. The employment gap was 20 percentage points in 2016. The Itinera Institute has argued in favor of enhanced data collection within these communities to produce fresh, evidence-based policies to improve the job placement rate of migrant workers.

Thus, Belgium has been a country of immigration, and is generally opposed to overt racism and discrimination. Yet, its performance in terms of eventual social inclusion and labor market participation is less than optimal.
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. Historically, Peruvians have been the biggest immigrant group in Chile. However, during the period under review, more residence applications were submitted by Venezuelans, due to the multiple crises ongoing in that country. Since 2013, immigration from Venezuela has grown by a factor of 19.

Recent estimates indicate that there were about 1 million immigrants living in Chile at the end of 2018 (about 5.5% of the population), with nearly one-third of immigrants lacking a valid residence permit. This is a significant increase from 2014, when about 420,000 immigrants were living in Chile (about 2.3% of the population at that time)

In 2016 and 2017, laws were passed that provide support to refugees and facilitate their integration into Chilean society. Refugee children now receive expedited access to Chilean citizenship regardless of age and residence time when at least one of their parents chooses Chilean citizenship. Before this reform, only adult children qualified to receive citizenship through a parent. Additionally, some administrative barriers have been lowered, making it easier for migrants to attend public schools.

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

In April 2018, President Piñera presented a new law on migration to Congress that would modify the regulation introduced in 2013. Anticipating a long parliamentary debate, the executive passed several administrative decrees addressing “urgent challenges,” which included modifications to the existing law on aliens (Ley de Extranjería). Following the introduction of these executive decrees, visas to stay in Chile have to be issued in a person’s country of origin, and the ability to apply for a temporary work visa in Chile was eliminated.

Although President Piñera belongs to the small group of Latin American heads of state that did not support the U.N. Global Compact for Migration of December 2018, he joined 10 additional Latin American countries in signing the Quito Declaration on the Venezuelan migration crisis in September 2018, which recognized the need for greater regional cooperation in this realm.

In 2019, Chile became the third-most-popular Latin American destination for Venezuelan migrants. In July of that year, about 400,000 Venezuelans were living in Chile, representing 30% of all immigrants registered in the county. In April 2018, President Piñera introduced the so-called Visa of Democratic Responsibility, which allows Venezuelans seeking refuge from the crisis in their country to reside in Chile for 12 months. By the end of June 2019, approximately 97,000 applications had been for this visa, and it had been granted to 35,000 individuals.
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:–3289539

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, most new legal immigrants are coming due to family reunification. This partially explains 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. However, the problem is often the same for immigrants moving to France more generally; most are unskilled, and as such, subject to vagaries of economic booms and busts, 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 Rally. The reluctance of the French socialist government to put in place a serious migration policy was 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).

President Macron has declared his intention to review France’s immigration policy, combining acceptance and integration policies for immigrants and refugees with accelerated asylum-application procedures and stronger efforts to send back people whose applications are rejected. The process of screening requests has improved, but there has also been a deliberate policy to restrict entry. During the summer of 2019, Macron declared that he would increase controls on illegal migration; however, as of the time of writing, no specific measures had been announced.
OFPRA: Les données de l’asile 2018 (
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.

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 and up to 160 in 2018. Although the absolute number of refugees in Iceland is not large, the number of refugees nevertheless increased by 95% between 2015 and 2018.

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.

Tölfræði hælismála. Accessed 16 October 2019.

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.
Despite being primarily a country of emigration, Romania possesses much of the requisite policy and legislative framework to support the integration of migrants into society. Efforts related to integration, while shared among ministries, fall primarily within the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ General Inspectorate for Immigration. Within this, the Integration Program coordinates between NGOs, communities, and institutions to offer services including counseling, language courses, civic education, as well as access to employment, housing, medical and social assistance, and public education. There is no separate integration strategy within Romania, but the National Strategy for Immigration for 2015-2018 pursued several relevant items, including fostering the integration of immigrants, refugees, and third-country nationals. Notably, a plan carrying through 2019 has yet to be released. In addition to domestic policy endeavors, Romania also receives funding support by the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration fund, with about one-quarter of this €21.9 million fund allocated to the integration of migrants.
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 2016, 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.

A distinction has to be made between the openness to diversity in British society, culture and institutions, which undoubtedly surpasses that of many other European countries, and the stance of UK governments over the last decade toward immigration. As home secretary, Theresa May introduced a target of keeping net migration to “tens of thousands,” although this target was consistently missed by a wide margin. In pursuit of this target, the Home Office adopted 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 unjustified deportations or withdrawals of rights to re-enter the United Kingdom. The public and political outcry, itself a manifestation of societal attitudes, led to rapid action to overturn evident injustices, but introduced no major legislative changes. The recently appointed home secretary, Priti Patel, has promised to curb immigration after Brexit, and signaled that there would be no distinction between EU and non-EU citizens, raising concerns about a hardline immigration policy and the status of immigrants in the United Kingdom.
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.

Priti Patel’s Conservative Party Conference speech:
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 complicated 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.

The ÖVP-FPÖ government has also abolished some training programs for the unemployed, primarily targeting services used by migrant populations. This includes cancelling German language trainings for non-natives. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior, under the leadership of an FPÖ minister, underlined that the government’s unwelcoming approach to immigration by renaming centers established for refugees “re-migration” centers.

To some extent, the openly xenophobic rhetoric of recent Austrian policymaking has already been abandoned by the current caretaker government, which has held office since July 2019, and is likely to be further rejected once a new government is formed, as the new government is unlikely to include the FPÖ. The general relaxation in anti-immigration sentiments has also been influenced by the significant decline in the number of refugees/migrants arriving in Austria since 2015.
New legal provisions:
Fritz Plasser, Franz Sommer, “Wahlen im Schatten der Flüchtlingskrise. Parteien, Wähler und Koalitionen im Umbruch.” Wien 2018 (facultas)
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. A new strategy is expected to be adopted in 2021, although in the meantime a plan extending the activities of these guidelines for 2019 – 2020 was adopted in 2018.

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. In 2019, non-citizens comprised 10.7% of the total population. There have been positive improvements, however. For example, in 2019, Saeima passed a law to grant automatic citizenship to children of non-citizens, thus ending the issue of stateless children in the country.

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, comprising 4.5% of the total population. Since July 2010, Latvia has granted temporary residence permits to investors meeting monetary investment targets (17,878 temporary residence permits were issued between 2010 and 2018). 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 residence permit are particularly vulnerable, as they do not qualify for public healthcare, 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 an alternative status. In 2018, the number dropped to 176 applicants, with only 23 people receiving refugee status and 24 an alternative status. Most people applying for protection were from Russia, Iraq or Azerbaijan.
1. Ministry of the Interior (2018) Report on the Progress and Results of the Implementation of the Provisions Provided by Section 23, Paragraph one, Clauses 3, 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the Immigration Law, Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 02.11.2019

2. Central Statistical Bureau (2019) Demography, Available at:, Last assessed: 02.11.2019

3. Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (2087). Annual Report. Available at (in Latvian):ārskats-(pdf)-3.84-mb.pdf, Last assessed 02.11.2019

4. Policy Report: Migration and Asylum in Latvia 2015 (in Latvian). Kitija Kursa. European Migration Network. eficiaries_for_international_protection_LV.pdf Last assessed 02.11.2019

5. Policy Brief: Immigration in Latvia. Dace Akule and Indra Mangule, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS (2014), Available at: N.pdf?1404807320. Last assessed 02.11.2019

6. Migration Policy Group (2015), Migrant Integration Policy Index, Available at:, Last assessed: 02.11.2019.

7. Guidelines on National Identity, Civil Society and Integration Policy (2012 – 2018), Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 02.11.2019

8. The Saeima (2018), The Role of Immigration in Labour Security in Latvia (in Latvian), Available at: 2018_aprilis.pdf, Last assessed: 02.11.2019
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. While the number of work permits for foreigners dropped from 85,000 in 2008 to a mere 7,033 in 2016 as a result of the economic crisis, it has been on the rise since 2017. At the same time, the period under review saw an increase in the number of asylum-seekers on their way to neighboring Italy and Austria. The government has responded by erecting an additional fence along the southern border that is guarded by a higher number of policemen and (assisting) army personnel.
South Korea
Since the 1990s, South Korea has evolved from a net-emigration to a net-immigration society. In 2018, South Korea experienced a rapid increase in the number of foreigners resident in Korea of nearly 9%. At the same time, the number of undocumented foreign workers also increased by 15%. According to the Ministry of Justice, the absolute number of foreigners residing in Korea rose to 2,367,607 as of the end of 2018, an increase of 8.6 % compared to 2017.
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. 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.
South Korea has a very bad record with regard to fulfilling its obligations under the Geneva Refugee Convention of 1951. Since 1994, only 2% of the 40,400 applicants for refugee status have received approval, prompting criticism by the United Nations Refugee Agency. As recently as 2018, the government gave in to anti-refugee protests by granting “humanitarian stay” visas rather than refugee status to most of the approximately 500 Yemeni refugees that arrived in Korea.
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.”
Koreatimes. 2019. “No. of foreign residents in Korea up 8.6% last year.” Retrieved from
Statistics Korea. “International Migration Statistics in 2018.” Retrieved from
Foreign labor in Cyprus increased by 9%, from 18.9% in 2018 to 20.6% in 2019, (12.6% other-EU and 8.0% third-country nationals). Radical changes in the composition of the population since 1989 were brought by an initial flow of foreign workers from southeast Asia, and central and eastern Europe, followed by other-EU nationals after 2004. Cyprus has needed to manage an increased influx of undocumented migrants in recent years. Comprehensive integration policies are still missing.

Despite pressures from the EU, the Council of Europe and NGOs, the level of compliance with European standards remains low. Officials adopt policies and rhetoric that create a negative climate. This not only impedes integration, it increases xenophobia. Poor performance persists on most relevant indicators, including labor market access, culture and education, family reunion and civil rights. The response to recommendations by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI report 2016) for changes to laws and practices and the adoption of a comprehensive plan for integration remains slow and inadequate. ECRI observed that non-nationals had experienced difficulties integrating in Cyprus.

In the framework of EU programs, local authorities are involved in integration projects. Laws on market access were loosened in 2019 for foreign students, but not for migrants. Blocking long-term labor market integration, the granting of only limited rights and time limits on working permits for non-EU citizens are factors that preclude migrants from obtaining long-term resident status. Improvements in employment rates also show an increase in the number of foreign workers in 2018. However, their risk of poverty and social exclusion remains very high: for non-EU citizens the risk in 2018 was 40.0% compared to 21.2% for Cypriots.

The implementation of recent policies regarding asylum-seekers – including the decisions to provide all children with an education as part of the existing compulsory education scheme and to facilitate family reunions – has been sluggish and plagued by various shortcomings Two reports by the Office of the Ombudsman in September 2019 concluded that procedures for family reunification and the improvement of living conditions remain problematic.

Inconsistencies in integration policies toward different groups are best illustrated by the granting of limited rights to non-EU migrants, while the authorities are simultaneously engaged in selling permanent residency and citizenship to wealthy so-called investors.
1. Office of the Ombudsman, Report on the Handling of Applications for Family Reunion, September 2019,$file/ekthesi0001.pdf?OpenElement
2. Office of the Ombudsman, Report on the Living Conditions of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees, September 2019,$file/%CE%91_%CE%94_4_2019_%CE%91_%CE%A0_1658_2019_24092019.pdf?OpenElement
Since Czechia’s accession to the European Union in 2004, the number of foreigners holding permanent or temporary residence permits has increased threefold. As of the end of April 2019, this total stood at 571,214. Within this group, those with permanent residence permission slightly outnumber those with only temporary residence. Among the immigrant population, there are more males than females. The largest immigrant group consists of Ukrainians (135,000), followed by Slovaks (117,000), Vietnamese (61,000) and Russians (38,000). Those that come to work, especially if they originate from outside the EU, are often recruited in their home countries. Reports from the Labor Inspectorate confirm that many are paid less than Czech employees in comparable jobs, and their employment conditions often fail to comply with the law. Although Czechia is not located on one of the major routes used by refugees for coming to Western Europe, the European refugee crisis stirred an intense and highly polarized debate on migration and integration. The Czech population is generally quite closed to foreigners, and this attitude has been slow to change. In opinion polls taken in July 2019, 63% of respondents stated that Czechia should not accept refugees from the countries affected by war, a five percentage point decline relative to the previous year. Less than a third of respondents – 31% (as compared 24% in 2018) – said the country should admit refugees until they could return to their country of origin. Only 2% of respondents stated that Czechia should accept the refugees and let them settle there. There are relatively few asylum applications; in 2018, a total of 1,702 were submitted, with 47 cases granted asylum, and 118 cases granted supplementary protection.
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. In June 2019, the UNCHR reported that 134,000 refugees and asylum-seekers lived in Greece. The number of migrants passing through Greece was probably higher, but was difficult to determine. Most remained at reception centers or camps on the Greek islands facing Turkey, such as Lesbos, Chios and Samos.

On 18 March 2016, the EU and Turkey agreed on a joint statement to end irregular migration flows, ensure improved reception conditions for refugees in Turkey, and open up organized, safe and legal channels to Europe for Syrian refugees. In the following three years, the number of irregular arrivals fell by 97%, while the number of lives lost at sea also decreased substantially. However, disagreements over EU financial aid and the imposition of sanctions on Turkey for illegal drilling in Cyprus’ continental shelf complicated matters. On July 22, Erdogan threatened to suspend the migration deal. Since that time, the rate of migrant arrivals to the Greek islands has substantially increased. In October 2019 alone, a total of 6,868 migrants and refugees landed on the shores of the aforementioned Greek islands.

Because of the long and inefficient system by which asylum applications are processed, arriving migrants and refugees often find themselves stranded on the islands for a very long time (for the space of years). By the end of the period under review, a total of 15,000 migrants and refugees were concentrated in a single “hot spot,” the Moria camp on Lesbos. They lived in squalid conditions, as the camp’s 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. To address these mounting problems, the Greek government that assumed power in July 2019 decided to gradually move segments of the rising population of migrants and refugees from the islands to camps scattered throughout Greece.

Meanwhile, EU authorities and NGOs have continued 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 at the primary and secondary level. 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 an official mosque for Muslims in Athens was finally opened only in June 2019.

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.
Information on the number of refugees in Greece is drawn on a Deutsche Welle report from Berlin, available at

Such data was also drawn on CNN reports such as the article published in
The rest of data is drawn on international press reports (New York Times, BBC) and is available at:
and at:
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 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 Israel, we need to distinguish between two general types of immigration. There is immigration of non-Israeli Jews, called Aliya, which is legally recognized, and encourages the immigration and integration of non-Israeli Jews into Israeli society. Second, there is immigration of non-Jews, who migrate as refuges or as illegal immigrants.

Legal immigration is supported by the government, which promotes and calls for Jews from all over the world to migrate to Israel. As part of such attempts, the government provides “immigration support funding” to Jews who migrate to Israel. The support also extends to financial support to employers who employ Jewish immigrants.

When it comes to illegal immigration, 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 requiring 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 recent 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 that it had any agreement with Israel on the matter. Following this, Israel achieved a similar deportation agreement with the 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 would make laws on illegal immigration exempt from human rights-based judicial reviews. The proposal is currently stalled.
Aid to financing immigrant wages, The Israeli Government Website, 2019 (Hebrew)

Immigration funding support, The Israeli Government, 2019 (Hebrew):

Times of Israel, “Israel freezes deportations of asylum-seekers after a 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):
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 Salvini’s 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. Past provisions for the large-scale regularization of immigrants, especially those working for and within families, have not been repeated. As a consequence, a large number of immigrants are still involved in the underground economy, and are thus exposed to economic exploitation, dangerous working conditions and a lack of respect for their rights. 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 childcare services and private cleaning services are dependent on legally or illegally employed immigrants. Access to citizenship for immigrants remains problematic. Discussions on the issue of the “ius soli” (i.e., granting Italian citizenship to children with a migrant background born in Italy) have been tense, and legislative proposals on the matter have ultimately failed to win parliamentary approval.

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 healthcare 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, past Italian governments had deployed naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea, joined by NGO vessels. Other EU countries have shown minimal willingness to accept a redistribution of migrants. The efforts of successive Italian governments to promote a common European policy to address the phenomenon have so far been ignored or opposed.
The first Conte government dramatically changed its policy course in this area. In particular, Interior Minister Salvini made it much more difficult for NGO ships carrying refugees and immigrants to win access to Italian ports, while additionally stepping up the government’s anti-immigration and xenophobic rhetoric, which in turn encouraged acts of violence against immigrants and foreigners. The interior minister also adopted harsh confrontational tones with other EU countries for not being willing to share the burden of immigration. The second Conte cabinet has promised to take a different approach to the problem, and to cooperate more closely with other European countries.
In spite of its aging and shrinking population – 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 maintains a fairly restrictive immigration policy. Despite a record number of legal foreign residents, reaching a total of 2.73 million at the end of 2018, only 2% of the workforce is foreign-born.

Bilateral economic-partnership pacts have allowed Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caregivers to enter Japan on a temporary basis since 2008. Efforts to attract more foreign workers have been piecemeal. For example, the LDP-led government has relaxed some immigration restrictions with the aim of attracting highly skilled foreign professionals. And in mid-2018, Prime Minister Abe announced plans to allow about 70,000 workers into Japan annually through 2025, for an overall total of about 500,000. In April 2019, two new temporary visa categories were added, covering low-skilled and semi-skilled workers in certain industries facing labor shortages. Finally, in mid-2019, a law was passed to systematically promote Japanese-language education for foreigners.

The Japanese government still appears reluctant to embrace a full-fledged immigration policy, and is cautious of rhetoric pointing in this direction. The nationalistic viewpoints held by many LDP lawmakers pose a particular challenge in this regard. Nevertheless, while the new measures cannot be regarded as a comprehensive package, there has been very substantial progress in facilitating an increased inflow of valuable foreign workers.
Himeda Konatsu, Easier Permanent Residency for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals – Is Japan Ready?,, 11 April 2017,

Takehiro Masutomo, Japan’s open to foreign workers. Just don’t call them immigrants, South China Morning Post, 30 June 2018,

How Japan’s prime minister plans to cope with daunting demography, The Economist, 17 November 2018,

Arnab Dasgupta, Japan’s Immigration Policy: Turned Corner or Cul-de-Sac?, The Diplomat, 21 February 2019,

Japan’s plan to let in more low-skilled migrants is half-baked, The Economist, 28 February 2018,

Tomohiro Osaki, New law holds government responsible for teaching Japanese to all foreign residents, The Japan Times, 21 June 2019,
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. It is estimated that Malta received 20% of the persons rescued or intercepted by search and rescue teams following departure from Libya between January and August 2019. This increase in numbers has prompted the government to reintroduce longer periods of detention in substandard conditions for asylum-seekers, a policy which has been heavily criticized by NGOs.

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 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. The unit is also implementing the EU-funded “I Belong” program. Meanwhile, the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers is responsible for the provision of some services, including employment, housing, education, healthcare 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. A new information center run by Peace Lab has been set up to help migrants integrate into the workforce

A large number of migrants have been granted subsidiary or humanitarian protection. UNHCR figures indicate a rejection rate of 14% for the first seven months of 2019. 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 for combating illegal migrant routes in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Malta and three other member states are seeking endorsement for a fast-track procedure to be used for the evacuation and distribution of migrants to other countries.

Evidence of poverty and homelessness among migrants indicates the need for government to allocate more resources to this group. The incidence of rent-related exploitation has also increased. Integration difficulties in communities with large migrant populations remain especially pronounced, while numerous riots in detention centers have highlighted ongoing difficulties. A recent report on migrant relocation to Malta stated that the system was characterized by disorganization, a lack of coordination, deficiencies in information provision, a lack of sensitivity toward migrant experiences and low-quality conditions at the open center used for migrant reception and other services. The government is developing a new open center at Hal Far, which will raise the capacity to 2,400 asylum-seekers.

Improved watchdog and oversight mechanisms are needed to ensure that the migrant workforce is not exploited. Bangladesh and Nepal have reported that their citizens have been subject to exploitation in Malta’s labor market. The current system for the care of young unaccompanied migrants remains inadequate. Current arrangements fail to ensure the appointment of legal guardians with sufficient experience in asylum issues. There is also a need to build capacities within local communities to prevent migrants from becoming ghettoized. The issue of citizenship for the children of asylum-seekers born in Malta also needs to be urgently reassessed; currently, these children have no right to citizenship. Statistics indicate that there are currently about 6,600 foreign students in the country’s primary and secondary schools, making up about 10% of the school population; this too may contribute to integration challenges in the future. Indeed, a study of this cohort found that a third of these students have been bullied at school
Malta Today 19/11/2018 Children make up 17% of Malta’s population
Times of Malta 28/05/19 Low Awareness of Human Rights
Times of Malta 20/06/19 They don’t let me play at school because I am Syrian
TVM 19/11/19 Foreign Children in Malta where are they from?
Timesofmalta 22/06/19 Betrayed expectations of migrants relocated
Times of Malta 25/07/19 Hal Far Open Center to be extended
Times of Malta 25/08/19 community spirit in full swing as new center puts migrants on path to job
Times of Malta 04/01/20 1400 migrants detained illegally at Marsa and Safi UNHCR
While the share of foreigners in the Slovak population is still relatively low compared to most other EU member states, the inflow of migrants has increased in recent years due to a shortage of labor. Since the resignation of former Prime Minister Robert Fico in March 2018, 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 started to ease foreign access to the Slovak labor market in order to mitigate the shortage of labor in certain regions of the country. 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 member states.
International Organization for Migration / Office for the Slovak Republic (2019): Migration in Slovakia. Bratislava (

Mészárosová, S., S. Obonová (2019): Annual Report on Migration and Asylum in the Slovak Republic in 2019. Bratislava.

Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (2019): Strategy for Labour Mobility of Foreigners in the Slovak Republic. Bratislava (
Prior to the Trump presidency and on the basis of data provided by the Migrant Integration Policy Index, in terms of overall integration policy, the United States was ranked ninth out of 31 assessed countries and 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 share of 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 penalization. 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 taking place from 2016 to 2018 have 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. 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. In 2019, there was a significant increase in apprehensions of illegal immigration at the Mexican border. The administration has also proposed new rules favoring wealthier applicants for permanent residence status, and there has been an increase in the number of family separations among families seeking refugee status.

Though opposed by most Americans, Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and his draconian – often unconstitutional – immigration measures have been popular with his base, the roughly 40% of those citizens who approve of his performance. 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 regarding their status and acceptance in society.
Migration Policy Institute (December 2017), Immigration under Trump: A Review of Policy Shifts in the Year Since the Election, (accessed December 2017)
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 failure of public institutions in this respect has been especially marked, with real humanitarian disaster being averted solely due to the efforts of private charities.

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 have prevented most refugee/migrant children from enrolling in school, and the presence of nationalists in the government has increased this tendency. This policy may prove unsustainable in light of the escalation of military action in Syria at the end of 2019, which may result in a sharp increase in migration pressure.
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. In 2018, only 800 persons sought asylum in Croatia. Generally, Croatia’s economic and social model is not attractive to potential asylum-seekers and migrants, which will exacerbate Croatia’s future demographic and economic challenges. There is neither a strategy to attract culturally similar immigrants, which could facilitate integration, nor a policy to integrate existing migrants. Integration is complicated by weak inter-sectoral cooperation between institutions responsible for carrying out immigration issues with local communities and civil society organizations. The integration of Serbian returnees who fled the country during the Homeland War has made relatively good progress, even if access to adequate housing remains a key challenge.

Since 2016, Croatia has drifted away from its relatively compassionate treatment of migrants and 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. In 2019, the number of people illegally entering the country increased substantially. Croatia has refrained from building barricades and using barbed wire, but sought to protect the Croatian, EU and future Schengen border with 6,500 police officers. Civil rights organizations have criticized the country for violently pushing refugees back.
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.
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, but also from Haiti, and many Asian and African countries, 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.

The newly created National Guard was deployed to various highway checkpoints across Mexico to stop the transit of illegal immigrants on their way to the United States. Human rights organizations have complained about “practices outside the law,” which are applied to migrants.

Contrary to what emerges from the media, more Mexicans have been leaving the United States since 2008 than have emigrated to the United States. A particular problem is that of “returnees” (i.e., 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 emigration from Poland featured far more prominently on the political agenda than issues related to immigration to Poland. While Poland had developed an integration concept following EU pressure in 2012, the number of Ukrainian and Vietnamese workers in Poland was low. Since PiS has returned to power, the government’s discourse has been very much against immigration, especially regarding Muslim people and people coming from countries outside Europe. In 2017, the parliament amended the Act on Foreigners with a view to tightening the domestic institutional framework for dealing with immigration. In the 2019 election campaigns, PiS representatives have continued to denounce Muslim immigrants as potential terrorists, a risk to public health, and a threat to Polish culture and society.

Meanwhile, however, the number of migrants has substantially increased. In 2018 and 2019, Poland took more workers from outside the European Union than any other EU member state. Since 2014, about two million Ukrainians have arrived, pushed by the poor economic situation and the war in Ukraine, and pulled by labor shortages and higher wages in Poland. While smaller in scale, immigration from countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh has also increased. Policies for integrating migrants are weak. The assumption, which might turn out to be wrong, is that most migrants will only stay temporarily or are so close in cultural terms that integration is no real problem.
Babakova, O. (2018): Socio-economic aspects of migrations in Poland (1989 – 2018), in: J. Kucharczyk, G. Mesežnikov (eds), Phantom Menace. The Politics and Policies of Migration in Central Europe. Prague: Institute for Public Affairs/ Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 148-168.
Economist (2020): How to mess up migration: Poland is repeating the mistrakes of other European countries, February 22.
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Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
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