Bulgaria issued close to 8800 first-time residence permits in 2014, most to Russians

Bulgaria issued a total of 8795 first-time residence permits in 2014, just more than 3300 to Russians, according to figures in a Eurostat report on October 20 2015.

The next-largest group to get first residence permits from Bulgaria was citizens of Turkey (2347, or 20.7 per cent) and, third, Ukraine (518, or 6.8 per cent).

The EU’s official term is a “first residence permit”, meaning a residence permit issued to a person for the first time. A residence permit is considered as a first permit also if the time gap between the expiry of the previous permit and the start of validity of the new permit is at least six months.

By definition, a residence permit means any authorisation valid for at least three months issued by the authorities of an EU country allowing a non-EU citizen to stay legally on its territory. Depending on individual countries’ laws, long-term visas or immigration status may also be included in the figures for residence permits.

The Eurostat report on October 20, however, referred only to non-EU citizens and authorisation to stay at least three months, meaning that the figures do not reflect migration statistics, where officially a migrant is defined as someone intending staying in a country at least 12 months.

According to Eurostat, the reasons for Bulgaria to issue the residence permits included “family” (2591, or 29.5 per cent), “education” (911, or 10.4 per cent), “employment” (304, or 3.5 per cent) and “other” (4989 – or 56.7 per cent, the largest share of the total).

In an explanatory note, Eurostat said that “other reasons” include permits issued for residence only (for example, pensioners with sufficient financial means), international protection status (including refugee status and subsidiary protection), humanitarian reasons, permits issued to non-asylum related unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking in human beings and other reasons not specified (e.g. beneficiaries of national regularisation programmes, diplomats).

Giving an overall picture for the EU, Eurostat said that in 2014, 2.3 million first residence permits were issued in the European Union (EU) to non-EU citizens, a number slightly lower than in 2013 (-2.2 per cent) and down by 9.0 per cent compared with 2008.

The decrease recorded from 2008 is mainly due to a fall in the number of first permits issued for employment reasons (from 0.8 million in 2008 to nearly 0.6 million last year). In 2014, almost a third (29.5 per cent) of first residence permits were issued in the EU for family reasons, a quarter each for employment (24.8 per cent) and other reasons (25.0 per cent) and a fifth (20.7 per cent) for education.

In 2014, one first residence permit out of four was issued in the United Kingdom (567 800 residence permits issued, or 24.6 per cent of total permits issued in the EU). It was followed at a distance by Poland (355 400, or 15.4 per cent), Germany (237 600, or 10.3 per cent), France (218 300, or 9.5 per cent), Italy (204 300, or 8.9 per cent) and Spain (188 600, or 8.2 per cent). Together, these six EU countries accounted for about three quarters of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2014.

Compared with the population of each member state, the highest rates of first resident permits issued in 2014 were recorded in Malta (23.2 first residence permits issued per thousand population), Cyprus (16.2), Sweden (11.1), Poland (9.4) and the United Kingdom (8.8). In 2014, 4.5 first residence permits were issued per thousand population in the EU.

Poland (206 200 permits) was by far the first destination for employment permits, while the United Kingdom (177 200 permits) was the primary destination in the EU for education related reasons. With around 100 000 permits each, Italy and Spain were the two member states with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2014. They were closely followed by the United Kingdom (96 500), France (92 100) and Germany (91 700).

In 16 EU countries, the largest numbers of permits were issued for family reasons, with the highest shares observed in Croatia and Austria (both 57.8 per cent of all residence permits issued in the country), Luxembourg (57.6 per cent), Greece (56.3 per cent), Spain (53.5 per cent), Belgium (52.7 per cent) and Slovenia (51.6 per cent).

Education was the main reason in Ireland (64.6 per cent of all residence permits issued), Romania (34.3 per cent) and Malta (29.6 per cent).

In six EU countries, the main reason for issuing residence permits was employment, the highest shares being recorded in Lithuania (66.2 per cent of all residence permits issued), Poland (58.0 per cent) and Cyprus (57.7 per cent).

In 2014, citizens of Ukraine (302 800 beneficiaries, or 13.1 per cent of the total number of new residence permits issued in the EU) continued to receive the highest number of permits, ahead of citizens of the United States (199 200, or 8.6 per cent), China (169 700, or 7.4 per cent) and India (134 900, or 5.8 per cent). A third of all new residence permits issued in the EU in 2014 were issued to citizens of these four countries.

The reasons for residence permits being issued differ between citizenships.

Among the top 10 citizenships granted permits in the EU in 2014, Ukrainians benefited from residence permits mainly for employment reasons (68.2 per cent of the first residence permits issued to Ukrainians in 2014), as did Indians (40.5 per cent). Chinese (59.4 per cent) and Brazilians (46.4 per cent) were given residence permits mainly for education reasons, while Moroccans (66.8 per cent), Turks (48.6 per cent) and Russians (34.8 per cent) benefited from residence permits mainly for family reasons.

Certain citizenships were granted residence permits predominantly by particular EU member states.

Of the 302 800 Ukrainians granted residence permits in the EU in 2014, more than 80 per cent were recorded in Poland (247 400). Of the 199 200 US citizens granted residence permits, almost 70 per cent were registered in the United Kingdom, as were almost 45 per cent of the 169 700 Chinese, Eurostat said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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