The number of residence permits granted to non-EU citizens in Bulgaria in 2017 was 41 per cent higher than in 2016, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on May 21.
This was the second-highest increase after Hungary, where the number rose by 113 per cent, Eurostat said.
In 2017, 51 021 non-EU nationals had residence permits in Bulgaria. This was significantly higher than the number in 2009, a total of 12 444.
At the end of 2017, there were 20.3 million valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens permitting them to reside in one of the EU member states, Eurostat said.
Germany (23 per cent), Italy (18 per cent), France (14 per cent), Spain (13 per cent) and the United Kingdom (eight per cent) accounted for three-quarters of all valid residence permits granted to non-EU citizens.
The stock of valid residence permits issued to non-EU citizens rose by five per cent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. Twenty-one out of 28 EU member states reported an increasing number of valid permits.
The highest rate of increase was recorded in Hungary, where the stock of permits granted to non-EU citizens more than doubled (113 per cent), followed by Bulgaria (41 per cent), Malta (25 per cent) and Slovakia (21 per cent).
Among the five member states with the largest stocks of residence permits, Germany recorded the highest increase, as the number of valid permits rose by 14 per cent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2017.
Increases were also recorded in France, Spain and the United Kingdom. In this group only Italy recorded a reduction in the stock of valid permits (-3 per cent).
Among all Member States there were five other countries reporting a decline: Estonia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Greece and Romania.
Almost two-fifths (38 per cent) of all valid residence permits at the end of 2017 were issued for family-related reasons, with lower shares for employment reasons (16 per cent), refugee status and subsidiary protection (seven per cent) or education reasons (six per cent).
At the end of 2017, Turkish (1.9 million) and Moroccan (also 1.9 million) citizens were the two main groups of citizenship holding valid residence permit in the EU, followed by citizens of Ukraine (1.2 million) and China (also 1.2 million). These were the only countries with more than one million residence permits.
The next highest numbers were recorded for Syrians (880 000), Albanians (867 000), Russians (696 000), Algerians (693 000), Indians (653 000) and Serbs (483 000).
By the end of 2017, these 10 countries accounted for more than half (51.5 per cent) of the total stock of permits among non-EU citizens residing in the EU, Eurostat said.