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BRUSSELS— During 2017, 661,874 Ukrainians received temporary residency permits in the European Union, putting Ukraine in first place among foreign migrants to the 28-nation bloc. Almost 9 in 10 of Ukrainians going to the EU for work ended up in Poland.
A residency permit allows a foreign national to reside in a country for a fixed length of time and differs with each country. For example, Poland grants temporary residence permits for a maximum of three years, while Slovakia allows two years. Different category of migrants might have different durations for legal residency.
Of the residency permits issued for Ukrainians, 87.7 percent were for employment; 4 percent for family reasons; 3.5 percent for education; and 4.8 percent for other, unspecified reasons, according to Eurostat data, published on Oct. 25.
Syria finished a distant second place, with 223,000 citizens getting residency permits, most in Germany, and 71 percent for humanitarian reasons. China took the third position with 193,002 residency permits, India fourth with 163,074, and the United States fifth with 147,317 permits.
Syria has been consumed by a seven-year civil war that has killed more than 500,000 residents and displaced several million others. Dictator Bashar al-Assad, with support from Russia and Iran, has waged a brutal campaign to suppress a revolution, including the use several times of chemical weapons against his own people.
By contrast, Ukrainians left their homeland, with official average monthly incomes of only $300, to look for better-paid work.
According to the October update of the World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine’s per capita gross domestic product stood at $2,964, making it the poorest country in Europe, eve behind at Moldova with $3,227, Belarus with $6,020 and Russia with $10,950.
Poland is the leading EU destination for Ukrainians, granting 88 percent of the residency permits. Poland’s own labor force has left to richer nations within the EU for the same reason as Ukrainians – to find better jobs.
To attract more labor, Poland eased its requirements.