Residence permits statistics
From Statistics Explained
- Data from October 2014, most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents European Union (EU) statistics on first residence permits issued to non-EU citizens. Data are based on the regulatory framework of the Article 6 of the Regulation 862/2007 on migration and international protection statistics.
Residence permit represents an authorization issued by the competent authorities of a country allowing third-country national (non-EU citizens) to stay legally on its territory. Data on residence permits are collected by reasons for issuing such permit. The main such reasons are: education, family, employment and other reasons (including stay without right to work, international protection, etc.). Among the main categories of reasons specific categories of reasons are distinguished (e.g. students, researchers, highly-skilled workers etc.). National administrative registers and databases are the main sources for these statistics, with the exception of the United Kingdom .
The evolution of residence permits at the country level reflects the national migration's systems diversity and the influence of European immigration policy. Other factors such as: characteristics of third-country nationals, legal framework and characteristics of countries involved in the immigration process like the geographical proximity or language ties can be also important.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
In 2013, EU Member States issued around 2.36 million first residence permits to third country nationals. This represents an increase of 12 % permits compared to the previous year (around 260 thousand more permits).
The United Kingdom (see Note 1) issued the highest number of first permits in the EU in 2013 with 724 thousand, followed by Poland with 274 thousand, Italy with 244 thousand, France with 212 thousand, Germany with 200 thousand and Spain with 196 thousand. These six countries represented more than 78 % of all first permits issued in the EU to non-EU citizens. However, if we consider the ratio between the number of permits issued and the size of the resident population (see Table 1), the highest number of permits was granted by Malta (24 permits for 1000 residents) followed by the Cyprus (13), UK (11) and Sweden (10).
The highest number of first permits was observed for other reasons with 685 thousand, followed by family related reasons with 673 thousand of permits; 535 thousand of permits were issued for employment reasons while less than a half a million permits were issued for education reasons (see Table 1). As in the previous four years (2009-2012), the distribution of the total first residence permits was to some extend balanced between the main reasons, counting between 20 % and 30 % from all first permits issued in the EU: family related reasons 29 %, education reasons 20 %, occupation reasons 23 % and other reasons 29 %. Compared with 2012, the number of permits issued for other reasons increased by 195 thousand. The number of first permits issued for employment and education reasons increased by 54 thousand and 10 thousand respectively while the number for family related reasons increased slightly by 3 thousand (see Figure 1).
Ukrainians were the top non-EU citizens granted first residence permit in the EU in 2013; large majority arrived for work reasons and Poland was their principal destination.
Residence permits by reason
With around 141 thousand permits, Poland is the member state with the highest number of permits issued for employment reasons, followed by the United Kingdom (109 thousand) and Italy (81 thousand). Likewise in Lithuania and Poland in some other countries permits issued for employment reasons represented the largest share of all permits issued: Denmark, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Slovakia (see Table 1).
The highest number of permits for family reasons (i.e. family reunification and formation) was issued in Italy and Spain with 108 thousand each, followed by the United Kingdom (95 thousand) and France (91 thousand). Family reason was the main reason for issuing residence permits in more than half of the EU Member States (19 out of 28) and in EFTA countries for which data are available: Norway and Switzerland(see Table 1). Five countries (Belgium, Greece, Spain, Croatia and Luxembourg) accounted for more than 50 % of all first permits issued. As in the previous years, the United Kingdom is by far the most popular destination in the EU for the students from third countries. In 2013 about 183 thousand of education related permits were issued in this country, what represents nearly 40 % of all first permits issued for education reasons in the EU (see Table 1).
Table 1 also shows the number of first permits issued for other reasons, such as international protection, residence without the right to work (e.g. for pensioners), diplomatic duties, and people in the intermediate stages of a regularisation process. A cross-country comparison based on this miscellaneous category is hampered by the differences that exist in the national administrative and legislative systems. In United Kingdom and Bulgaria this category of permits accounted for more than 45 % of total permits issued, while in countries like Slovenia and Luxembourg, this share was considerably lower (below 5 %).
Residence permits by citizenship
The highest number of first residence permits in the EU was issued to the citizens of the Ukraine (237 thousand), followed by Indians (201 thousand), United States (172 thousand), Chinese (166 thousand), Philippines (108 thousand) and Moroccans (102 thousand). These six citizenships account for about 42 % of all permits issued in the EU. Ukraine is the largest country of citizenship of non-EU immigrants receiving residence permits in the EU in 2013. Most of Ukrainians received an employment related permit and the principal destination country was Poland.
Various factors or even combinations of such factors influence the choice of the destination EU Member State for the third-country citizens. Among these factors are the language ties (e.g. the United States citizens in the United Kingdom), geographical proximity of the country of destination (Ukrainians in Poland), historical links (e.g. Algerians in France) and established migrant networks (e.g. Turkish citizens in Germany) (Table 3).
The distribution of citizenships granted first permit may also vary depending on the reason considered. Moroccans represent the largest group granted permit for family reasons (67 thousand), followed by Indians (43 thousand) and Chinese (34 thousand). On the other hand Chinese (99 thousand), the United States citizens (42 thousand) and Brazil (24 thousand) are the largest groups receiving a permit for education purposes, while Ukrainians (152 thousand), Indians (53 thousand) and the United States citizens (39 thousand) are the top citizenships granted employment related permit (Table 4).
For some citizenships the reasons for immigration to the EU are mixed. For certain citizenships specific migration patterns meaning reasons for immigration can be observed. While family related reasons are predominant among Moroccans, Russians and Turks granted residence permit in the EU, nearly two thirds of Ukrainians are issued with employment related permit. For China and Brazil the main reason is education while other reason is predominant for Philippines and Belarus. (Figure 4).
The following of such immigration patterns may in addition depend on the destination EU Member State. For example, while most of the Chinese granted permission to reside in the United Kingdom were granted education related permit, large majority of those authorized to stay in Italy received permits for employment reasons. Similarly, while most of Turks permitted to stay in Germany were issued with family related permit, majority of Turks arriving to the United Kingdom arrived for education reasons.
Data sources and availability
The statistics used for this publication are provided to Eurostat by the national responsible authorities, mainly Ministries of Interior or Immigration Agencies of the EU Member States and EFTA countries. Data are based entirely on relevant administrative sources. These data are supplied by Member States as part of the annual Residence Permits Data Collection conducted by Eurostat according to the provisions of Article 6 of Regulation 862/2007 on statistics on migration and international protection.
The evolution of residence permits statistics is linked to European immigration policy as well as the national immigration policy. It is also influenced by different factors: characteristics of immigrants, legal framework and characteristics of countries involved in the immigration process.
The main dimensions for residence permits data collection are: the reporting country, the citizenship of the permit holder, the reason for the permit being issued and the length of validity of the permits issued. Since 2010 reference year, on voluntary basis, permit data are also collected with age and sex breakdown. The dimensions may differ from one to other dataset and can be consulted in the "Database" sub-section of this article.
Certain methodological aspects are not fully harmonized between the reporting countries due to the different legal or IT systems. Therefore, the data availability may differ between countries and the interpretation of the figures resulted should be done with the help of metadata file related to Residence Permits Statistics.
Due to the recent implementation of the Residence Permits Data Collection, some methodological and administrative differences exist between the Member States. Namely, data for France relate to permits which were issued after at least 12 months since the expiry of the previous permit. No data are available for Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The UK has not established residence permits register. Statistics are provided by the Home Office and mainly based on passengers given leave to enter the UK in selected categories. For further details see: Home Office.
Resident permits statistics are available as both, flows and stocks statistics:
- Datasets related to residence permits granted during the reference year. Data published on this category contains information about first residence permits issued during the reference year and information about change of resident status of immigrants during the reference year;
- Datasets related to permits valid at the end of the reference year (stock of permits). Data published on this category contains information about number of valid permissions to stay at the end of reference year and long-term legal resident status at the end of the reference year.
A subset of resident permits data - statistics on EU Blue Cards, are now collected since 2012 on the basis of the Article 20 of Directive 50/2009 - Conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment.
Migration policies within the EU are built upon solidarity and responsibility, considering valuable contribution of immigrants to the EU’s economic development and performance. Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Home Affairs is responsible for immigration policy. The EU measures on legal immigration cover the conditions of entry and residence for certain categories of immigrants, such as highly qualified workers subject to the ‘EU Blue Card Directive’, students and researchers. Family reunification and long-term residents are also provided for.
Statistics on residence permits is collected on the basis of the Article 6 of the Migration Statistics Regulation:
- Regulation 862/2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection;
The list of categories of reasons for issuing residence permit is provided by the Commission Regulation:
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 216/2010 on Community statistics on migration and international protection as regards the definitions of categories of reasons for the residence permits
All relevant legal acts and information regarding the EU immigration policy can be accessed on DG HOME website.
Further Eurostat information
- Residence permits issued to non-EU citizens in 2009 - Statistics in Focus
- Population, see:
- International Migration and Asylum (migr)
- Residence permits (migr_res)
- Residence permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship (migr_resval)
- Residence permits (migr_res)
- First permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfirst)
- First permits issued for family reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfam)
- First permits issued for education reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resedu)
- First permits issued for remunerated activities by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resocc)
- First permits issued for other reasons by reason, length of validity and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resoth)
- All valid permits by reason, length of validity and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_resvalid)
- Long-term residents by citizenship on 31. December of each year - Annual data (migr_reslong)
- Residence permits by reason, age, sex and citizenship (migr_resage)
- First permits by reason, age, sex and citizenship - Annual data (migr_resfas)
- All valid permits by age, sex and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_resvas)
- Long-term residents by age, sex and citizenship on 31 December of each year (migr_reslas)
- Residence permits by reason, age, sex and citizenship (migr_resage)
- EU Blue cards (migr_resbcard)
- EU Blue Cards by type of decision, occupation and citizenship (migr_resbc1)
- Admitted family members of EU Blue Cards holders by type of decision and citizenship (migr_resbc2)
- EU Blue Cards holders and family members by Member State of previous residence (migr_resbc3)
- EU Blue cards (migr_resbcard)
Methodology / Metadata
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- European Commission - Home Affairs - Immigration
- EU Immigration Portal (EUIP)
- European Migration Network (EMN)
- European Web Site on Integration
- OECD - Migration
- International Migration Outlook 2011 (also in French)
- Please note that the statistics for the United Kingdom use different data sources to those used in other Member States. For that reason, statistics for the UK presented in this article may not be fully comparable with other statistics presented here. Statistics for the United Kingdom are not based on records of residence permits issued (as the United Kingdom does not operate a system of residence permits), but instead relate to the numbers of arriving non-EU citizens permitted to enter the country under selected immigration categories. According to the United Kingdom authorities, data are estimated from a combination of information due to be published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 'Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom' and unpublished management information. The 'Other reasons' category includes: diplomat, consular officer treated as exempt from control; retired persons of independent means; all other passengers given limited leave to enter who are not included in any other category; non-asylum discretionary permissions.
- DG HOME - Towards a common European Union migration policy