Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic Surpass One Million, Driven by Ukrainian Refugee Wave

In a significant demographic shift, the number of foreign nationals residing in the Czech Republic exceeded one million for the first time in 2022, primarily due to the influx of refugees from Ukraine. According to a report from the Interior Ministry, the number of foreigners increased by 69% compared to the previous year, with a significant portion being individuals granted temporary protection status.

The annual report on migration and integration of foreigners, discussed by the government and released by the Interior Ministry, reveals that by the end of 2022, there were 1,116,154 legally registered foreigners residing in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days. Of these individuals, approximately 30% held permanent residence status, 31% had temporary residence permits, and another 39% had been granted temporary protection.

Among the foreign nationals with legal residence, 80% were citizens of third countries (non-EU), with the largest contingents coming from Ukraine, Vietnam, and Russia. Additionally, the Czech Republic recorded 227,348 EU citizens, with Slovaks forming the largest national group of foreign nationals after Ukrainians.

The annual report also highlights that the Czech Republic became the leading recipient of Ukrainian refugees in the European Union when considering refugees per population. By the end of 2022, the country had provided temporary protection to 473,216 refugees who fled the war in Ukraine triggered by the Russian invasion. Moreover, as of December 31, there were 433,540 foreigners with temporary protection residing in the Czech Republic.

The influx of refugees has had a notable impact on labor migration in the country. The report indicates a significant increase in the number of foreigners with free access to the Czech labor market, particularly among those granted temporary protection. By the end of 2022, over 100,000 foreigners with temporary protection were employed in the Czech Republic, representing a 74% year-on-year increase.

Alongside the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, the Czech Republic experienced a substantial surge in irregular transit migration, primarily driven by refugees from war-torn Syria. The police reported detaining 29,235 irregular refugees in January, a 162% increase compared to the previous year. In response to the heightened refugee flows on the EU’s external border through the Western Balkan route, the Czech government temporarily implemented border checks at the Slovakia border from September 2022 until the beginning of February this year.

Furthermore, the Czech Republic observed a 20% year-on-year rise in the number of applicants for international protection in 2022, totaling 1,694 applications. The Interior Ministry noted increased interest in international protection from citizens of Turkey and Russia.

Article by Prague Forum

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