In 2018, 12 000 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Romania (excluding EU citizens), 17.1% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 38.2% labour migrants, 26.6% family members (including accompanying family), 25.2% who came for education reasons and 10% other migrants. Around 1 500 short-term permits were issued to international students and 1 700 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 16 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2018, an increase of 32% compared to 2017. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Moldova, Viet Nam and Turkey were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Viet Nam registered the strongest increase (1 000) and Bulgaria the largest decrease (-300) in flows to Romania compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 26.2%, to reach around 2 500. The majority of applicants came from Iraq (600), Syria (500) and Afghanistan (200). Of the 1 300 decisions taken in 2019, 44.5% were positive.

The initially approved foreign worker quota of 20 000 for 2019 was supplemented by an additional 10 000 for the last four months of the year, compared to 15 000 (7 000 supplemented by 8 000 for permanent and posted workers) in 2018. The increase aimed at tackling labour shortages and included permanent workers as well as posted, seasonal and other types of foreign employees.

In 2018, in a context of 33% increase in minimum salary levels, the salary level for foreign employees was reduced from the average gross salary to the minimum gross salary, while the EU Blue Card salary threshold increased to twice the average gross salary.

In 2018, the rights of students enrolled in Romanian educational establishments were extended by granting scholarships, increasing the number of partnerships with other international universities, and attracting new funding partners.

In 2019, Romania set up measures for the application of EU Regulation 2016/589 on a European network of employment services (EURES), increasing workers’ access to mobility services and better integration in labour markets.

In November 2018, a new law transposing EU Directive 2016/801 facilitated the entry and residence of immigrants coming for research, studies, training, voluntary service, students exchange schemes or educational projects, or au pairing. An immigrant may now get a residence permit to study and the procedure to get a work permit is simplified. Immigrant workers now have the same minimum wage as Romanian nationals and highly skilled foreign workers salary threshold is twice the average gross wage.

In October 2018, the Action Plan to implement the National Strategy on Immigration for 2015-18 was finally adopted. It gives priority to voluntary return and reintegration measures under EU assistance funds. The plan also reinforces the capacity to return undocumented immigrants. New measures were also introduced to respond to labour market shortages, by simplifying admission procedures for selected immigrant workers. The plan also aimed to improve integration through four main pillars: social, medical, housing and employment. It provides vocational and employment programmes and new accommodation for refugees.

Bilateral agreements were signed and protocol implemented with Bulgaria and Georgia regarding the readmission of Romanian citizens and of foreigners. Several amendments were also adopted to facilitate the emigration of Romanian nationals (e.g. simplification of procedures, reinforcing the protection of Romanian citizens working abroad).

The COVID-19 crisis impacted immigration services in Romania. Immigration offices suspended all activities, except for work permit applications. The validity of permits expiring during the state of emergency was prolonged until 90 days after the end of this period. People entering Romania from the most affected countries had to quarantine for 14 days, while other people entering the country needed to self-isolate for 14 days. The daily cross-border workers from Hungary and from Bulgaria are still allowed without being obliged to quarantine/self-isolation (if no symptoms of COVID-19). Finally, individuals coming for installation/maintenance of medical, scientific, economical, defence, public order and national security domains equipment are not required to self-isolate or quarantine either (if they present no symptoms of COVID-19).

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