Number of foreigners in Slovakia increasing slower than in other EU states

Slovakia needs migrants, especially in the labour market, migration organisation points out.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

The migration situation in Slovakia, as far as the composition of migrants is concerned, is as good and desirable as the country can wish for, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated on May 22, as quoted by the Sme daily.

The country has very few migrants without a residence permit, few asylum-seekers and a typical migrant on Slovak territory is statistically a citizen of the European Union.

Economic migrants are full-fledged members of society

This ratio has been gradually changing and currently about one half of migrants come from non-EU countries, but they are people at a working age and economically active, who come to Slovakia for work or enterprise.

“Economic migrants are the most desirable ones, since they contribute to the system, pay taxes, levies, and are full-fledged members of society,” head of IOM in Slovakia, Zuzana Vatráľová, told media on May 22 at a briefing organised by IOM, Labour Ministry, and the Human Rights League civic association.

The number of clients of the Migration Information Centre has been growing – and so is the interest in their services. Foreigners often contact centre while still in their original country and considering coming to Slovakia. They ask for information on conditions and what they need here, how the re-unification of families works in practice, Vatráľová explained.

There were 104,451 foreigners in Slovakia last year. Though the number of foreigners living here with some type of stay permit keeps growing, it is still relatively low compared to other EU states – less than two percent of the population, Sme wrote.

Vatráľová noted that it is administratively easier to employ Slovak or EU citizens but since they are not very interested, people from non-EU countries are being addressed as well.

Media image is crucial

So it is important that inhabitants realize this and are ready for foreigners come to Slovakia. As economic migrants they should not be feared since “an economic migrant has no negative connotation – this is a person who is here to conduct an economic activity”, according to Vatráľová. She also stated that regular Slovaks do not meet foreigners routinely, and learn about them only from the media. IOM deems it important to create an objective and true image of migrants, since Slovakia has found itself in a situation where it needs migrants, especially on the labour market.

The integration of migrants at the local level, their inclusion into society – this activity is being performed by the League for Human Rights with its partners, the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK), the Nadácia Milana Šimečku foundation and the Marginal civic association.

The KapaCity project is focused on supporting the integration of foreigners and third-country nationals at the local level in four regions: the Bratislava, Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Košice Region. The goal is to develop the professional capacities of the self-governing regions so that they better integrate foreigners and make the services focused on them a stable part of their activities.

“We want these cities to become sort of flagships of how the integration of people coming from abroad at the level of the municipalities can be,” said Zuzana Števulová, head of the Human Rights League, as quoted by Sme.

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