In 2019, 93 000 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Poland (excluding EU citizens), 8.3% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 61.5% labour migrants, 15.5% family members (including accompanying family), 2.1% who came for education reasons and 20.9% other migrants. Around 19 000 short-term permits were issued to international students and 568 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 94 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 250% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Ukraine, Belarus and India were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Ukraine registered the strongest increase (22 000) and Germany the largest decrease (-800) in flows to Poland compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -45.4%, to reach around 1 500. The majority of applicants came from Russia (500), Belarus (400) and Afghanistan (100). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Belarus (400) and the largest decrease nationals of Russia (-1 300). Of the 2 000 decisions taken in 2020, 18.5% were positive.

Emigration of Poles to OECD countries decreased by -8% in 2019, to 150 000. Approximately 42% of this group migrated to Germany, 18% to the Netherlands and 9% to the United Kingdom.

From January 2019, holders of a temporary residence and work permit who are in Poland to pursue a profession desirable for the Polish economy were given easier access to a permanent residence permit. They may apply for one after only four years of legal residence in Poland and, if successful, are exempted from a labour market test.

An amendment to the Act on foreigners which entered into force in April 2019 made possible the issue a national visa or a temporary residence permit for purposes of research, internships or voluntary work as part of the European Voluntary Service. The requirement is that the host entity is approved by the Minister of the Interior. These changes are related to the implementation of the 2016/801/EU Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing.

In September 2020, the government launched a new programme ‘Poland. Business Harbour’ aimed at supporting ICT entrepreneurs from Belarus who are interested in relocating to Poland. It is targeted at freelancers but also start-ups, SMEs and large companies.

From September 2020, new rules on posting of workers have been in force, introduced in order to implement the provisions of Directive 2018/957/EU into Polish law.

A legal amendment in April 2019 gave foreign graduates of Polish universities the right to stay in Poland for a period of nine months on the basis of a temporary residence permit in order to seek employment or set up a business.

In October 2020, a draft amendment to the Social Assistance Act was submitted. Among other things, it grants the right to an individual integration programme for foreigners with refugee status or subsidiary protection.

From the beginning of 2021 all UK nationals and their family members retain their right to stay in Poland under previous conditions provided that they came to and lived in Poland before the end of the transition period. Though not obligatory, it is recommended that they apply for new residence documents confirming their rights since this can be helpful in exercising these rights.

In response to COVID-19, from 14 March 2020, the validity of various types of residence permits, including work permits and seasonal work permits as well as Schengen and national visas, were automatically extended until the 30th day following the day on which the epidemic state is cancelled. During this time, the stay of foreigners in Poland on the basis of these documents is considered legal, but does not translate into the right to stay or travel to other Schengen countries.

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