Bulgaria granted a total of 7942 first residence permits to non-EU citizens in 2016, mostly for family reasons and the largest percentage to Turks, according to figures released on November 16 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
The statistics were released in a report that said that in the EU in 2016, there was a new high in issuing residence permits to non-EU citizens, adding up to about 3.4 million across the 28-member bloc.
Of those granted by Bulgaria, 3240 (40.8 per cent) were for family reasons, grounds generally meaning marriage to a Bulgarian citizen or being a relative.
A total of 1067 (13.4 per cent) were for education and 276 (3.5 per cent) for employment reasons.
A total of 3359 (42.3 per cent) first residence permits – meaning, a residence permit granted to an individual for the first time – granted by Bulgaria were for “other” reasons.
The “other” category may cover 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-asylumrelated unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking in human beings and other reasons not specified (for example, beneficiaries of national regularisation programmes).
Of the first residence permits granted by Bulgaria, the largest number was to citizens of Turkey: 2838 (35.7 per cent). This was followed by Russians, 1509 (19 per cent), and Ukrainians, 1086 (13.7 per cent).
Eurostat said that in 2016, about 3.4 million first residence permits were issued in the EU to non-EU citizens, a record number since comparable data are available (2008) and up by 28 per cent (or nearly 735 000 residence permits) compared with 2015.
The statistics agency said that the increase in the EU was mainly due to the larger number of first permits issued for ‘other reasons’ (+64 per cent) as well as for employment reasons (+21 per cent).
Employment reasons accounted for a quarter (25.4 per cent) of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2016, family for 23.2 per cent and education for 20.7 per cent, while other reasons, including international protection and humanitarian status (about 14 per cent of all first permits issued in 2016), represented 30.7 per cent.
In 2016, one out of four first residence permits was issued in the United Kingdom (865 900 residence permits issued, or 25.8 per cent of total permits issued in the EU). This was followed by Poland (586 000, or 17.5 per cent), Germany (504 800, or 15.0 per cent), France (235 000, or seven per cent), Italy (222 400, or 6.6 per cent), Spain (211 500, or 6.3 per cent) and Sweden (146 700, or 4.4 per cent).
Compared to the population of each member state, the highest rates of first resident permits issued in 2016 were recorded in Malta (20.6 first residence permits issued per thousand inhabitants), Cyprus (19.9), Poland (15.4) Sweden (14.8) and the UK (13.2). For the EU as a whole in 2016, 6.5 first residence permits were issued per thousand inhabitants.
Poland (494 000 permits, or 58 per cent of all permits issued for employment reasons in the EU in 2016) was by far the first destination for employment related permits, while the United Kingdom (365 500 permits, or 53 per cent) was the primary destination in the EU for education related reasons.
With more than 100 000 permits each, Germany (137 000, or 18 per cent), Spain (115 100, or 15 per cent) and Italy (101 300, or 13 per cent) were the three EU member states with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2016. They were closely followed by France (93 900, or 12 per cent) and the United Kingdom (89 300, or 11 per cent).
In 11 EU countries, the largest numbers of permits were issued for family reasons, with the highest shares observed in Spain (54.4 per cent of all residence permits issued in the member state), Greece (53.5 per cent) and Luxembourg (52.5 per cent).
Education was the main reason in Ireland (57.4 per cent of all residence permits issued in the member state in 2015), the United Kingdom (42.2 per cent), Romania (39.0 per cent) and Hungary (34.5 per cent).
In seven EU countries, the main reason for issuing residence permits was employment, the highest shares being recorded in Poland (84.3 per cent of all residence permits issued in the member state), Lithuania (60.5 per cent), Slovenia (51.0 per cent) and Croatia (49.6 per cent).
Other reasons, which include international protection status and humanitarian reasons, were predominant in the six remaining EU member states, notably in Germany (55.9 per cent of all residence permits issued in the member state), Sweden (50.8 per cent) and Austria (50.6 per cent).
In 2016, citizens of Ukraine (588 900 beneficiaries, of which 87 per cent in Poland) continued to receive the highest number of permits in the EU, ahead of citizens of Syria (348 100, of which almost two-thirds in Germany), the United States (250 900, of which almost three-quarters in the United Kingdom), India (198 400, of which over 60 per cent in the United Kingdom) and China (195 600, of which a majority in the United Kingdom). About half of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2016 were issued to citizens of these five countries.
The reasons for residence permits being issued differ between citizenships. Among the top 10 citizenships granted permits in the EU in 2016, Ukrainians benefited from residence permits mainly for employment reasons (82.7 per cent of the first residence permits issued to Ukrainians in 2016). Chinese (66.9 per cent), US citizens (46.5 per cent) and Brazilians (41.6 per cent) were given residence permits mainly for education reasons, while Moroccans (69.8 per cent) benefited from residence permits issued mainly for family reasons, as did Turks (41.2 per cent).