In 2019, 44 000 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Hungary (excluding EU citizens), 10.6% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 72.6% labour migrants, 12.9% who came for education reasons and 14.5% other migrants. Around 4 500 short-term permits were issued to international students and 6 800 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 21 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 22% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Ukraine, Romania and Germany were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Ukraine registered the strongest increase (4 500) and Serbia the largest decrease (-400) in flows to Hungary compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -80.9%, to reach around 90. The majority of applicants came from Pakistan (25), Afghanistan (15) and Syria (10). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Bangladesh (5) and the largest decrease nationals of Afghanistan (-200). Of the 500 decisions taken in 2020, 27.4% were positive.

Emigration of Hungarians to OECD countries decreased by -21% in 2019, to 46 000. Approximately 40% of this group migrated to Germany, 26% to Austria and 8% to the Netherlands.

In 2019 or 2020 there were no legislative or administrative changes relating to the status, conditions of access to the labour market and entitlement for jobseeker’s benefit of foreign workers and no bilateral agreements were signed.

As a result of the judgment on 14 May 2020 of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the transit zones of Hungary were closed and the applicants placed there were accommodated in other reception facilities.

In accordance with the provisions of the EU directives on posting of workers, the rules on the employment and the relevant inspection of posted workers were changed from 30 July 2020.

Without modifying its internal procedures, organisation and structure, from July 2019 the Immigration and Asylum Office was changed into a law enforcement agency under the name of National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing.

Third-country nationals who were unable to leave Hungary and the Member States of the European Union whose visas expired during the COVID-19 epidemic were granted a temporary residence certificate for humanitarian reasons.

The validity period of those residence documents, permanent residence and immigration permits issued – except for the short-term visa and entry visa for receiving a residence permit – were automatically extended until the 45th day after the end of the state of danger during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020. This measure was repeated at the second wave of the pandemic from November, with the exception that extension applies only until the 30th day after the end of the state of danger.

With the adoption of Act LVIII of 2020 on the transitional rules and epidemiological preparedness related to the cessation of the state of danger as well as Government Decree No. 292/2020 (VI.17.), at present, foreigners – as a basic rule – must first declare their intent to seek asylum at a diplomatic representation in order to enter Hungary and make an application there.

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