3. Recent developments in migrant integration policy

As the need to focus on pandemic-related supports has receded, OECD countries have been examining the essential question that motivates integration measures for new arrivals and for those who have been present over the longer term: what action can the government take to increase cohesion and improve equality of opportunity for migrants? COVID-19 remained relevant throughout much of 2021, but countries have gradually adjusted to a “new normal”. In some cases, this has meant carrying out structural reforms with a focus on increased flexibility, individualisation, and participation. Countries have also continued the work of reducing discrimination and dismantling barriers for women and other vulnerable migrants. Aside from the rapid policy actions and upscaling that have been necessary – particularly in Europe – to respond to the integration needs of a large influx of migrants from Ukraine (addressed in detail in the special chapter), a substantial area of focus has been on integrating migrants more effectively and, in many cases, on encouraging their eventual naturalisation.

Many of the restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were gradually relaxed throughout 2021, but countries were still faced with the need to mitigate the barriers to migrant integration and reduce the potential for delays that were caused by the pandemic. Reduced availability of public transport, over exposure to COVID-19 and restricted access disincentivised migrant participation in integration courses. Transportation subsidies were introduced, for example in Germany, where migrants who attended in-person classes were eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses. Countries also improved the flexibility of their migration courses to create favourable conditions for migrants to continue participation in programmes. For example, the Netherlands granted an extension to all migrants required to attend integration programmes. In January 2021, an additional four-month extension was made available to migrants who were participating voluntarily in the programme as well, but limited to participants who had fewer than six months remaining to complete the course. In Germany, deadlines were extended by six months for those who first enrolled in courses between March 2018 and June 2021. In addition to relaxing time constraints, governments also introduced flexibility in the modalities of teaching. Given the limited availability of in-person teaching, most OECD countries accelerated the digital transformation of their integration courses. In Germany, during periods of high infection rates, numerous vocational language courses were held fully or partially in virtual classrooms. Throughout 2021, nearly 70% of new vocational language courses were delivered through mixed modality. The Immigrant Council of Ireland moved its social integration activities online to guarantee continuity. Throughout 2021, the “Migrant Leadership Academy” programme that aims at bringing together socially engaged migrants was delivered remotely.

As restrictions have relaxed, countries continue to consider whether some of the policies introduced during the pandemic should be made permanent. In Austria, for example, migrants can still subscribe to online and mixed format language classes on the national integration portal. Increased availability of online classes and greater flexibility have proven popular with migrants, particularly those who work or have young children. Instituting such changes on a more permanent basis can also improve the resilience of course provision in the event of future unexpected challenges. The pandemic also accentuated certain weaknesses in integration programmes for which governments may compensate going forward. Sweden, for example, doubled its budgetary allocation for 2022-24 to improve Swedish language learning for employees in elderly care and related fields. It also reinforced subsidised employment and will continue to introduce entry jobs so that jobseekers can demonstrate their skills to an employer more easily.

Regularisation is frequently carried out in countries facing acute migration pressures. Greece, Italy, Spain, and the United States are among those countries with a history of enacting periodic regularisations, but regularisation initiatives are not at all rare, having been carried out in the majority of OECD and EU countries. Regularisation reduces migrants’ vulnerability in a number of domains and provides them access to mainstream services. In 2021 and early 2022, regularisation policies – whether temporary or longer term – have been implemented across a large number of OECD countries. In this period, most governments introduced regularisation initiatives, either to respond to humanitarian needs or to improve the integration of existing populations of migrants.

For certain countries, specifically those that have not traditionally been countries of immigration but have large populations of unregulated or transitory migrants, regularisation has been a key component of their fledgling integration policies. This approach reduces strain on asylum systems and acknowledges the challenges inherent in conducting large-scale removals. In April 2021, Chile has implemented a new immigration law that encompasses a regularisation mechanism targeted at irregular stayers arrived before March 2020. Those who arrived through irregular pathways can leave the country without being penalised and apply abroad for a temporary visa allowing them to work in Chile. The law also aims at reducing irregularity by issuing receipts of in-process residence and visa application, which grant staying and working in the country immediately after submitting the application.

In February 2021, Colombia announced a ten-year Temporary Protection Status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans present on its territory or those entering via official checkpoints over the following two years. Beneficiaries can access a broad range of Colombian social services – education, health care, as well as recognition of professional titles, permission to work and other financial services. The Colombian efforts with Venezuelan refugees signal a focus on the longer-term integration of immigrants, particularly in meeting needs that arise given the long-term stay. Indeed, one early initiative, a measure enacted in 2019, concerns the grant of Colombian citizenship to Venezuelan children born in the country on or after 18 August 2015. The framework is intended to avoid child statelessness that results from the difficulty of acquiring Venezuelan citizenship once abroad.

Additional OECD countries have pursued regularisation, albeit on a smaller scale. In April 2021, Korea introduced a regularisation programme targeted at minors. Unregistered children of irregular foreign residents who are born in Korea and lived in the country for 15 years or more can stay in the country until completing their upper secondary education with a D-4 visa, accompanied by their parents. The programme runs until February 2025. Ireland announced a new regularisation scheme in July 2021 that is expected to affect up to 17 000 undocumented immigrants. The scheme will accept applications from 31 January 2022 until 31 July 2022. The programme is specifically meant to reduce delays for individuals who have been in an immigration process for at least two years and covers undocumented migrants who have lived in the country for four years without permission (three years in the case of those with children). Beneficiaries have access to the labour market and can start the naturalisation procedure. Italy has continued the implementation of an employment-specific regularisation scheme announced in early 2020 for migrant workers in the fishery, agri-food, care and domestic sectors. The purpose of the measure was to reduce tax evasion and migrant worker exploitation by enabling undocumented workers who were previously employed to receive a residence permit and by encouraging the regularisation of existing labour contracts.

With every regularisation scheme, the government must consider what mechanisms are necessary for smooth implementation. Italy has experienced delays, with only 26% of applicants receiving regular status two years after the start of the programme. It thus announced in March 2021 a decision to hire temporary workers and labour inspectors to accelerate the evaluation of submitted applications and address staffing issues. Chile took the approach of completely digitalising its application procedures to ease processing.

Naturalisation can have important implications for immigrants’ social integration and labour market outcomes (OECD/European Union, forthcoming[1]), and the overall trend amongst OECD countries has been to take steps to encourage more migrants to pursue citizenship. While few OECD countries have made broad changes to their naturalisation requirements in 2021 and 2022, many countries have actively considered the question of how best to transition migrants to citizens.

Germany announced the intention to enact significant reforms to nationality law in its new coalition agreement. Changes would focus on simplification of requirements, for example lowering the number of years of residency to five years (or three in the case of special integration achievements) and lowering the required level of German-language proficiency. Notably, changes would include the recognition of dual citizenship in addition to granting children birthright citizenship if their parents resided in Germany for at least five years prior to their birth. Additionally, on 20 August 2021, an amendment to the Nationality Act entered into force that provides those who lost or were unable to acquire German citizenship due to Nazi persecution a recourse to naturalisation, both for themselves and for their descendants. The Act also excludes from naturalisation anyone convicted of anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, or other misanthropic acts.

The United States has taken several actions to build on the February 2021 Executive Order: “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans”. On 2 July 2021, the Interagency Naturalization Working Group (NWG) published the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization. The strategy has three focus areas: 1) immigrant, community, and education outreach initiatives; 2) capacity building and partnerships; and 3) citizenship education materials and inclusion language. Since publishing the strategy, the United States has instituted several projects to reach groups such as current and former military members and their families, geographically isolated groups, and the elderly. US Citizenship and Immigration Services has developed a digital naturalisation eligibility tool and has co-operated with the Social Security Administration to improve the process of issuance of social security numbers.

Estonia has also taken measures to encourage naturalisation. The Integration Foundation invites people with undetermined citizenship to take part in a series of events in Tallinn and Ida-Viru County. At the meetings, they introduce the possibilities of acquiring citizenship, discuss obstacles and advantages, share detailed information on how to apply for citizenship, and give advice on how to prepare for exams.

Some OECD countries have sought to increase flexibility for migrants seeking to acquire citizenship. Latvia took steps to digitalise the application process and to create tools for potential applicants to test their knowledge in advance of the interview. In September 2021, Australia introduced flexibility regarding the residence requirement for Global Talent Visa holders, significantly reducing the number of days that they must be physically present in Australia to seek Australian citizenship. The government also updated citizenship application fees for the first time since 2016, increasing the fee from AUD 285 to AUD 490 to reflect the cost of processing applications. Luxembourg recently extended the deadline to apply for recovery of Luxembourgish nationality and introduced an amendment allowing migrants to change their name upon naturalisation.

Colombia, Lithuania, and Sweden considered issues specific to migrant children. Lithuania amended its Law of Citizenship to establish that a child of a stateless person lawfully residing in Lithuania would have “birthright” Lithuanian citizenship, regardless of the actual place of birth. One proposal presented in Sweden in July 2021 would concern protection of children in the cases of renunciation of citizenship and further measures to limit the occurrence of statelessness.

While countries have generally sought to offer greater flexibility or to clarify rights of naturalisation, there have been outliers. Denmark moved to tighten access to naturalisation, including by adding questions to the citizenship test and an additional waiting period of two years after obtaining permanent residence (one year for refugees and stateless persons). Additionally, applicants must now demonstrate they have had a full-time job or been self-employed for 3.5 of the previous 4 years. The Danish Parliament reintroduced the constitutional ceremony that was paused due to COVID-19 and is considering retroactive revocation of nationality in the case of action that is prejudicial to the vital interests of Denmark.

Greece established strict economic criteria for naturalisation in 2021, requiring that foreign nationals who wish to acquire Greek citizenship prove an adequate standard of living equal to at least the national minimum wage for all years of prior legal residence upon which the application for naturalisation is based. This change follows amendments to the Greek Citizenship Code passed in 2019 and 2020 that required applicants to demonstrate knowledge of Greek language and political life in addition to being integrated into Greek economic life. The Swedish Government has proposed introduction of tests of the Swedish language and knowledge of Swedish society as a condition for the acquisition of Swedish citizenship, though this has not yet entered into effect. In 2022, Israel renewed the Law of Citizenship and its restriction on citizenship based on marriage between Israelis and residents of the Palestinian territory following the law’s failure to pass in 2021.

While a requirement to demonstrate oral Norwegian skills at a Level B1 (up from the previous level A2) under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) has not yet been implemented, Norway did introduce additional requirements. Amendments to the Nationality Act increase the residence requirements for naturalisation from seven to eight years after permanent residence (with the exception of refugees) and introduces the requirement that individuals with a specified minimum income level must have resided in Norway six out of the previous ten years.

OECD countries have dedicated increased attention to creating integration measures that meet the needs of migrants and encourage their participation. In some cases, this has taken the form of obligatory measures. Belgium (Flanders) has made significant changes to its integration policy, to take effect in September 2022. Under the new programme, each migrant who participates will develop an individualised pathway, benefit from intervention by the Flemish employment and vocational training services, and be matched to a “Flemish buddy” for 40 hours of mentoring. This individual will act as a sponsor who can provide new arrivals with a network, ideally increasing their chances of finding a job or lodging. The programme will also be fee based. Most migrants will be expected to pay EUR 360 for introduction measures (EUR 90 for language and civics courses and EUR 90 per examination). The Flemish Government continues to offset the full cost of integration, valued at EUR 4 500 per individual. Few categories of migrants – eligible but not obliged to take up the programme – will be exempted from fees. In Brussels, where migrants may choose between French and Dutch programmes, Flemish integration programmes remain available free of charge (the latter being under the responsibility of Flanders).

The Netherlands also instituted changes to its integration measures in 2022. The new civic integration programme introduces individually tailored integration measures through a Civic Integration and Participation Plan. Work placements and volunteer work play a major role in the new system, which includes a Labour Market and Participation module. Additionally, three new learning pathways for the Dutch language have been developed. A Knowledge of Dutch Society module is standardised across all pathways. The government bears the cost of civic integration for humanitarian migrants. Family and other migrants are eligible to participate in the various modules, but they must arrange and finance their learning independently.

Sweden introduced the Intensive Introduction Year programme for certain participants in the Introduction Programme, which began on 15 April 2021. The Intensive Introduction Year Initiative enables participants to take part in a combination of measures, based on the individual’s needs as well as those of potential employers, to include language training and work practice, but also matching activities and skills validation. The aim of this full-time programme is that migrants will enter employment within one year. Participants are encouraged to take part in activities in their spare time such as additional language training and mentorship programmes. A gender equality perspective must be included in all aspects of the intensive year, with the intention of enabling both women and men to enter the workforce to an equal extent.

In 2021, Estonia reorganised its work and entrepreneur module, creating in its stead two separate modules based on the migrant’s interest either to start employment or to set up a business. The work module provides information about looking for a job, writing a resume, and about the services provided by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. The entrepreneurship module focuses on the nuances of founding a company but also answers questions about laws and taxes. Japan has also introduced a training course, as part of its Comprehensive Measures, to promote stable employment for migrants, focused on necessary training and reemployment, where relevant.

Denmark, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia made certain relatively discrete changes to their integration measures. Denmark introduced an exemption from payment requirements for vocational education for unaccompanied minors and migrants with temporary stay permits. Poland announced for the first time that foreigners married to Polish citizens have the right to participate in individual integration programmes. On 12 January 2022, the Slovak Government amended its Act on Asylum to allow for earlier access to integration support, particularly for asylum seekers. The waiting period for access to the labour market was shortened from nine to six months, and asylum seekers will now have access to social and psychological counselling and integration courses. Integration allowances were also increased for holders of international protection. Slovenia modified its integration programme beginning in June 2022 by allowing asylum seekers increased access to integration allowances, sociocultural programmes, and counselling. Additionally, New Zealand announced the extension of eligibility for resettlement support from 12 months to 24 and announced the inclusion of support for family sponsors under the Refugee Quota programme.

Nearly all countries enable access to mainstream early schooling for young children, and recent national actions serve to cement that policy preference. In 2021, Norway shifted the lower boundary age of its integration programme from 16 to 18 years of age to make clear that all migrant youth should achieve an education. The Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education and the General Directorate recently enacted a co-ordination protocol to regularise migrant children in the public education system, aiming to decrease dropout rates of migrant minors by providing better access to scholarships and degrees. Poland’s West Pomerania region ran a programme designed to facilitate integration of children aged 5 to 18 into the school system, including by building the intercultural competencies of teachers. The Netherlands has also reconfigured its integration programme with the intention of facilitating education for young people, offering this group a specific integration pathway designed to prepare them for further education at secondary vocational, professional, or academic level. In New Zealand, children of eligible work visa holders will benefit from domestic tertiary student status prior to their application for residency.

For adult migrants, there is recognition that more needs to be done to facilitate access to education where necessary. Across the OECD, 37% of the foreign-born are highly educated, a larger share than among the native-born (32%). With the exception of Iceland and the Latin American OECD countries, the share of highly educated individuals among immigrants has increased by 7 percentage points over the past decade. However, a significant number of the foreign-born are poorly educated (27%). The share of the immigrant population that is poorly educated is higher in Europe, surpassing 35% in Belgium, Italy, France, Greece, Malta, and Spain. In the Republic of Türkiye, the share is over 50% (OECD/European Union, 2018[2]). In OECD countries with large numbers of high-skilled jobs, a lack of education can present a significant integration barrier. The year 2021 marked the initial implementation of the European Union Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion (2021-27), which proposes targeted integration support that takes into account specific challenges for people with a migrant background. Main actions supported by the EU under the plan include promoting inclusive education and training, bridging programmes, faster recognition of qualifications, and improved skills recognition. Specific emphasis is placed on improving digital solutions under the Digital Education action plan. The Commission will work with social and economic partners, as well as employers, to support entrepreneurship and make it easier to recognise and assess skills. Additionally, countries such as Norway have sought to make it easier for adult migrants to use their integration benefit to access formal education. Norway also removed a requirement that a migrant already have basic skills to participate in its integration programme. To help skilled workers and specialists bridge the integration gap, the Finnish long-term action plan contemplates offering education programmes through higher education institutions and mentorship support.

Member countries also enacted specific changes to their policies of skills recognition. In keeping with provisions of the Skilled Workers Immigration Act adopted in 2020, Germany furthered its work on shortening deadlines for recognition procedures in a number of professions. The newly introduced, accelerated administrative procedure covers professions governed by federal law or equivalent regulations under state law. Israel introduced a policy allowing doctors working in hospitals under the supervision of an experienced mentor to receive a license without examination. In Luxembourg, a new law on recognition of diplomas issued in the United Kingdom entered into force on 1 January 2021. In March 2022, New Zealand launched the Former Refugees, Recent Migrants, and Ethnic Communities Employment Action Plan, which is focused on skills recognition and matching. Among its objectives is the intention to collaborate more effectively with the private sector.

Language remains one of the key pillars of integration, and several countries have recognised the need to place increased focus on host-country language proficiency. Estonia has identified language teaching and learning as a key pillar for integration. As part of its Language Strategy for 2021-35, Estonia has announced the goal that every Estonian resident be proficient in the Estonian language and that more opportunities and better tools be developed to pursue this goal. In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been promoting the establishment of a comprehensive system through which local governments can improve offerings of the Japanese language. Additionally, MEXT has developed language-learning materials using digital solutions for foreign nationals living in locations where it is difficult to set up in-person classes. To improve the quality of education, MEXT has published a report on a new framework based on the CEFR and is considering a qualification system for Japanese language teachers. In Australia, several states made additions or improvements to their English as an Additional Language programmes. South Australia notably introduced a 6-module online course to support language teachers. Sweden announced an intention to increase the possibility for migrants to combine language and vocational training.

Only a small number of OECD countries made changes to the target level for host-country language proficiency in 2021. In Flanders (Belgium), migrants in the mandatory integration programme who are not in work or study two years after receiving their integration certificate will be obligated to reach CEFR level B1 in spoken Dutch. In the Netherlands, the New Civic Integration Act 2021, with its separate integration tracks, will require most migrants to speak and write Dutch at level B1 (in both the B1 pathway and the educational pathway). Migrants in the empowerment pathway are expected to learn Dutch at CEFR A1 to prepare for a basic level of participation in the Netherlands. Prior to this change, the target level for all migrants was CEFR A2. These increases are in keeping with a recent trend in the OECD, suggesting that host countries have recognised not only the need to look at a migrant’s specific circumstances, but also that their target language levels have been insufficient to integrate certain migrants. Slovenia introduced for the first time a requirement that migrants reach CEFR level A2 as a condition for seeking permanent residence. The change will be applied on 27 April 2023 after a two-year transition period. Legislative changes to the Aliens Act also included a move from the provision of free civics and language courses to a co-financing model, whereby, after the two-year transition period, migrants will cover 50% of the cost for language courses out-of-pocket.

Related to the issue of language, some countries have taken steps to increase and improve access to interpretation and translation services. Norway, for instance, clarified the obligation for public bodies to use qualified interpreters to provide services within its 1 January 2022 Interpretation Act.

With the support of the European Union and its Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, several EU countries have launched follow-up national plans on diversity and anti-racism. In June 2021, Belgium (Flanders) announced the need for a new organisation designed to encourage and participate in integration. The goal of this participatory organisation is to defend the rights of minorities and strive for inclusiveness and participation. The organisation’s main areas of work are housing, labour, education, policy participation, and social cohesion. In April 2022, the new organisation, called LEVL, announced that it was operational.

Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden made progress in developing their national action plans. Ireland published an interim report of the Anti-Racism Committee and commenced work on a Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy in 2021. The Committee targeted May 2022 for submission of the National Action Plan against Racism to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Sweden launched a nationwide index on the socio-economic status of residential areas as part of its long-term strategy. On 15 October 2021, the Netherlands appointed a National Co-ordinator against Discrimination and Racism, tasked with drawing up a multi-year national programme with clear targets. Additionally, the Netherlands announced the formation of a four-year State Commission to evaluate and propose solutions to reduce discrimination in government. Germany also appointed its first-ever federal anti-racism Commissioner in February 2022. The Commissioner’s office is charged with developing a diversity strategy for the federal administration and with co-ordinating the government’s measures to combat racism.

Promotion of diversity in working life has become a particular priority. In Finland, a programme to ensure that companies and organisations benefit from diversity was launched in 2021. The programme is linked to the objective of raising the employment rate and promoting employment and advancement of immigrants, and it includes initiatives to match immigrants to their skills. Finland adopted the recommendations published in its Action Programme against Racism in September 2021 and has also undertaken a campaign to amplify refugee voices.

Beyond the European Union, other OECD countries have taken similar actions to combat discrimination against individuals with a migrant background. Canada has issued a call to action on diversifying the public service. Additionally, in 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that anti-racism representatives would be placed in every sector of its department, in part to ensure that anti-discrimination principles are well respected when it comes to processing immigrant applications. Japan formulated “Comprehensive Measures” for fiscal year 2021 in recognition of the need to enhance acceptance of foreign nationals, a challenge that was laid bare as it responded to the spread of COVID-19. Switzerland has also sought to support and reinforce anti-discrimination and diversity institutions. In 2022, a particular focus has been on preventing discrimination in the labour market. In Australia, the state of Victoria launched an Anti-Racism Taskforce in June 2021 to develop and implement its first state-wide Anti-Racism Strategy. New Zealand established a new Ministry for Ethnic Communities in July 2021 to ensure equitable provision of government services and the promotion of inclusion of ethnic communities.

The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on outcomes for migrant women drew increased attention to the need for gender mainstreaming in project design in addition to certain targeted measures. OECD countries have taken particular efforts to strengthen opportunities for foreign-born women to enter the domestic labour market. For example, Sweden’s Public Employment Service will put forward a plan to improve outcomes for women for 2022-25, co-ordinated with the national Gender Equality Agency. The Agency is principally focused on those women who are far from the labour market and do not participate in integration measures. Canada extended the Racialised Newcomer Women Pilot that was first launched in December 2018 with a CAN 31.9 million commitment to projects on employment and career advancement of women. The government had observed that the unemployment rate of visible minority or non-white newcomer women (9.7%) was higher than that of racialised (8.5%) and non-racialised (6.4%) newcomer men (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2021[3]). In 2021, Canada announced an additional CAN 15 million to support the labour market integration of this group, with projects continuing to receive funds until 31 March 2022. The projects are located throughout the Canadian territory and focus on diverse issues, such as building confidence, networking, enhancing computer skills, and entrepreneurship.

As part of the Women’s Safety Package, the Australian Government will provide AUD 29.3 million over 3 years beginning in July 2021 to support safety, social and economic inclusion of migrant women. The additional funding will support women through the Settlement Engagement and Transition programme. Innovative projects to address identified employment needs will also be supported. Sweden announced an additional SEK 4 million in funding for its Gender Equality Agency in 2022, partially in response to inflows of women and children from Ukraine. The funding is intended to strengthen work against exploitation and trafficking.

Germany has specifically identified the needs of migrants with childcare obligations, many of whom are women. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is developing programmes to allow women to participate more frequently in qualification and training measures. In January 2022, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth launched the federal programme, “Integration Course with Child: Building Blocks for the Future”. In addition to offering childcare programmes concurrently with integration courses, the German Government notes the importance of providing support both during and after participation in integration measures.

Recognising the challenges and sacrifices of young people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU declared 2022 to be the Year of Youth. The flagship initiative is the ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve) programme, which supports youth from disadvantaged backgrounds seeking work experience in member states other than their own home country. Sweden extended the mandate of its Delegation for the Employment of Young People and Newly Arrived Migrants through February 2023. The aim of the delegation is to improve co-ordination between municipalities and the central government on measures against youth unemployment. More generally, there has been a continued shift in integration programmes toward acknowledging the importance of education for young people. One of the tracks available under the reformed integration programme in the Netherlands (discussed above) is specifically designed for young people who are in the Netherlands attending tertiary education or who wish to receive their school diploma. New Zealand announced the creation of a pilot for former refugee youth, intended to support young refugees in accessing higher education and/or occupational skills training, such as apprenticeships. Refugee youth will work with Immigration New Zealand and other relevant agencies in the co-design phase.

Several OECD countries reorganised their provision of integration services in 2021 and 2022, with some making large-scale changes. Such reforms reflect increasing awareness of the need to involve all of the actors engaged in integration of migrants to develop a cohesive and well-co-ordinated plan. In the Netherlands, Slovenia, and several Nordic countries, reorganisation took the form of clearer designation of responsibility, either on the national or municipal level. In Norway, responsibility for integration was transferred to the Ministry of Labour, while in Sweden, a new Ministry for Migration and Integration was established, with authority over integration, anti-segregation, and reception of asylum seekers. The Minister for Employment and Gender Equality continues to be responsible for labour market integration of newly arrived immigrants. At the same time, Norway has sought to increase the role of civil society for 2021-24, primarily by providing grant support to organisations. The Finnish Government announced the transfer of responsibility for integration to municipalities as part of its Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration. Additionally, Romania published a new methodology based on its Integration Act that stresses the interconnected responsibilities of its ministries on housing, education, and employment. In contrast, demonstrating slight shift toward a more localised approach, in December 2021, Australia announced an AUD 37.3 million investment in a community support programme for humanitarian migrants, under which community-based sponsorship of refugees would be piloted. A significant portion of the funds was designated to social enterprise grants for refugee employment.

As part of the changes introduced under the 2021 Civic Integration Act, the Netherlands sought to delineate municipal responsibility for the supervision of new arrivals more clearly. Under the new Act, while the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment leads the governance of integration, and civic integration exams are co-ordinated by the Ministry of Education and the Institute for the Implementation of Education, municipalities have taken on an even greater number of tasks, with the goal of providing a more individualised offering. Municipalities have responsibility for housing, asylum shelters, social assistance, employment services and education in addition to implementation of three civic integration paths. The municipality now also covers the cost of integration courses for humanitarian migrants. This represents a significant divergence from the largely market-driven private sector integration offerings that have been previously available.

Estonia and Belgium took action to improve co-ordination mechanisms. Estonia launched the plan “Cohesive Estonia 2021-30,” a joint venture between the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Interior, and the Foreign Ministry. Belgium’s Council of Ministers approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Conference on Migration and Integration in February 2021, with the aim to contribute to consultation and coherent policy making across the federal and regional governments.

The one-stop-shop model has gained popularity as a way to co-ordinate referring migrants to appropriate services. To assist migrants with integration issues, Lithuania established the International House Vilnius in September 2021. This centralised location provides integration services, advice, and referrals in English and Russian to highly qualified migrants and their family members. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Poland had announced a project under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to open pilot Integration Centres for Foreigners in two voivodeships, Wielkopolska and Opolska. The first centre was opened in Kalisz on 8 March 2022. These centres were designed to offer advice regarding the labour market, Polish language learning, cultural assistance, and psychological and legal help. The project was co-ordinated with the National Network for the Integration of Foreigners, which is designed to bring together a variety of institutions and offices concerned with issues facing migrants.

Other countries have continued to refine national action plans and improve co-ordination. Ireland extended its migrant integration strategy to the end of 2021. As part of this strategy, several government departments were restructured, and responsibility for migrant integration and refugee resettlement was transferred to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Policies implemented as part of this restructuring include establishment of a new international protection support service to be phased in from 2021-24. Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a Ministry of Culture policy-planning document that created guidelines for building a cohesive society. These “Guidelines for the Development of a Cohesive and Active Civil Society 2021-27” emphasise integration of migrants through the learning of Latvian language and history.


[3] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (2021), Government announces new initiatives to help racialized newcomer women succeed in Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/08/government-announces-new-initiatives-to-help-racialized-newcomer-women-succeed-in-canada.html (accessed on 8 June 2022).

[2] OECD/European Union (2018), Settling In 2018: Indicators of Immigrant Integration, OECD Publishing, Paris/European Union, Brussels, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307216-en.

[1] OECD/European Union (forthcoming), Settling In 2023: Indicators of Immigrant Integration, OECD Publishing, Paris/European Union, Brussels.

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