In 2021, 23 000 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Romania (excluding EU citizens), 47.4% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 66.3% labour migrants, 15% family members (including accompanying family), 11.7% who came for education reasons and 7% other migrants. Around 1 400 short-term permits were issued to international students and 2 700 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 18 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, a 3% increase compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 33%, to reach around 12 000. The majority of applicants came from Ukraine (4 400, excluding temporary protection recipients), India (1 500) and Bangladesh (1 400). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Ukraine (+4 400) and the largest decrease nationals of Afghanistan (-3 500). Of the 4 070 decisions taken in 2022, 25% were positive.

Emigration of Romanian citizens to OECD countries increased by 2% in 2021, to 215 000. Approximately 43% of this group migrated to Germany, 13% to Italy and 8% to Austria.

Recent developments in migration policy in Romania have mainly concerned the transposition of several EU Directives or Regulations to simplify and improve migration and asylum management.

To attract and retain highly skilled workers, in 2022 Romania introduced a six-month digital nomad visa, allowing foreign nationals to live in Romania while working for companies outside the country. This allows eligible third country nationals to work more flexibly and with fewer constraints in Romania for a fixed period. Applicants need to prove significant financial means to be eligible for the visa.

One key priority for the government is to address labour market shortages. In that regard, Romanian authorities significantly raised the work permit quota in 2021. For 2023, as in 2022, Romanian authorities have set the quota at 100 000 for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals.

Migrant workers holding EU Blue Card and a Romanian single permit can no longer change employers within the first year of employment without the written consent of their current employer. This measure does not apply if the termination of the individual employment contract took place at the initiative of the previous employer or as a result of the agreement of the parties, or by the resignation of the foreigner if the employer does not fulfil the obligations assumed by the individual employment contract, under the conditions provided by Law no. 53/2003, republished, with subsequent amendments and additions. This measure does not apply to seasonal workers.

Legislative amendments in 2022 extended the period in which foreign workers can apply a long-stay visa for employment from 60 to 180 days after the employer obtains their work permit. In addition, visas are issued by the National Visa Centre within 20 days of application submission, compared with 10 days previously. These provisions aim at easing the administrative burden and facilitating the employment of foreigners in Romania. In addition, to ensure a better distribution of the workload from immigration offices, employers and foreign nationals may now have their legal representative submit work or posting permit applications at any offices of the General Inspectorate for Immigration.

Other changes in migration and asylum policy in Romania in 2022 mainly came in response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Romania adopted a National Plan to protect and integrate displaced individuals from Ukraine who have received temporary protection. This plan outlines various solutions to ensure their access to the labour market, health services, education, and housing. Romania also put together a decision-making structure to ensure efficient institutional co-ordination and co-operation to receive and integrate Ukrainian refugees, both in the short and medium term. The government signed on Operational Plan with the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) in support of the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive. The EUAA supported Romania through the provision of information for Ukrainian refugees and training, capacity building and administrative support to Romanian authorities.

Finally, in December 2022, the European Union Council did not approve the requests of Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen zone despite positive recommendation from the European Commission.

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