2. The largest inflow of Ukrainians

in Europe 2019 · EX-USSR · Nation 2019 · Politics 2019 · Polska 2019 88 views / 6 comments
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Europe        Ukraine           Polska

GEOMETR.IT   osw.waw.pl

* «Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished. Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading»  William Faulkner

Nevertheless, the latest study provides a great deal of valuable information; first and foremost, it helps us to better understand where the Ukrainians who arrive in Poland have come from. Some are new people who have no previous experience of migration, as indicated by a representative survey of Ukrainian migrants working in the agricultural sector which the National Bank of Poland carried out in 201711.

On the other hand, thanks to Ukrainian data, it is possible to prove for the first time that a certain number of the new migrants to Poland are people who have changed their destination from Russia to Poland. A comparison of studies from 2008, 2012 and 2017 clearly shows how this reorientation from Russia to Poland took place. In 2017, 39% of respondents migrated to Poland (14.3% in 2012) and only 26% of the people surveyed went to work in Russia (43% in 2012) (for more, see Figure 5).

Other target countries for Ukrainian migration Just as the agricultural sector in Poland is the first place where Ukrainian migrants acquire migration experience before relocating to other areas of employment, Poland is often treated as a testing ground from which attempts are made to migrate to other EU countries. Ukrainian researchers emphasise that this migration takes place with the help of Polish migration networks, including Polish intermediaries.

In Czech research in particular, the so-called ‘Polish mark’ clearly appears when Ukrainian migrants in the Czech Republic declare that they have arrived from Poland. The Czech press have repeatedly reported about checks on the legality of employment, during which migrants have been revealed to be in possession of certificates from Polish employers about their intention to employ a worker, even though these do not authorise them to work in the Czech Republic.

Direct Ukrainian migration to the Czech Republic is difficult, as the country has been conducting a very restrictive migration policy since 2012, practically closing off any possibility of new economic migrants arriving there. A certain loophole in this practice arose with the launch in July 2016 of the government’s Režim Ukrajina programme for qualified migrants, as part of which 13,300 Ukrainians work in the Czech Republic (within the quota of 20,000)12.

Generally, it may be estimated – according to the state of affairs at the end of May 2018 – that about 85,000 Ukrainians are currently working legally in the Czech Republic13. This number is still small, but the Czech government has been treating the launch of the current quota program as a test for possible further liberalisation in the future. Another country that could potentially be attractive to Ukrainian migrants is Hungary. However, this country applies a migration policy quite different from those of Poland and the Czech Republic.

The main method for attracting migrants is the policy (liberalised in 2011) of granting Hungarian citizenship to those who feel bound by ethnic ties with the Hungarian state. According to data from July 2017, 845,000 citizens of other countries received Hungarian citizenship, and 145,000 were in the process of doing so.

The number of those who have obtained citizenship includes about 100,000 Ukrainian citizens (mainly from Transcarpathia, which is inhabited by the Hungarian minority)14. Interestingly, as yet the Hungarian government has not sought to make the newly naturalised citizens move to Hungary; they have often used Hungarian citizenship to migrate to other EU countries.

  • This situation is slowly beginning to change, as Hungary has also started to notice shortages on its labour market.
  • In many surveys carried out by companies involved in finding employment in Poland, there is a fear of an outflow of Ukrainian workers from Poland to Germany. For example, according to a recent survey conducted by Personnel Service in July 2018, as many as 60% of the Ukrainian migrants currently working in Poland would like to work in Germany15.
  • Unless one thinks in terms of undocumented employment, the chances of a change in migration legislation for Ukrainians in Germany are negligible. At present, Germany has set itself the task of activating the 1 million refugees who arrived during the crisis of 2015-16. An additional priority is the professional activation of the Balkan migrants who came to Germany in 2009-12, as well as the possible preparation of special programmes offering jobs to migrants from African countries who have the most desirable professions from the point of view of the labour market’s needs.
  • On the other hand, Germany has been recently working on a new comprehensive migration policy which should facilitate the inflow of a qualified labour force originating from the non-EU countries, potentially including Ukraine. However this task is very difficult, because German regulations are very prohibitive and inflexible, and as a rule Germany does not recognise diplomas from universities or professional qualifications from non-EU countries1 new country which had previously been absent from the map of Ukrainian migrationinEurope is Lithuania.
  • Thenumbers are still small, but during the space of one year the number ofUkrainian citizenswho have been granted the right of residence in Lithuania has increased dramatically. While there were just 3600 such people in 2017, in the first quarter of 2018 the figure had already reached 11,300

All the factors presented indicate how difficultitis to make any further predictions about the dynamics of migration from Ukraine to Poland. It is not known whether the dynamics of circular migration will be maintained in the medium term (5–7 years), or whether this migration pattern will still be attractive to the inhabitants of western Ukraine.

As a rule, in each target country, some of the migrants usually decide to settle for longer. At the moment long-term migration from Ukraine to Poland is also rising, albeit at a much slower pace. Whether the proportions between temporary and long-term migration will change depends on many factors, including Polish migration policy18 and the migration policies of the other target countries.

For the time being, no major geographical reorientation of Ukrainian migrants from Poland to other EU countries can be observed, but it is clear that in this respect Poland’s main potential competitor is the Czech Republic. The average size of the savings that Ukrainian citizens can make while working in Poland is also of great importance.Atthe moment, due to the differences in the exchange rates and the relatively low costs of living in Poland, circular migration to Poland is definitely a more viable option than working in Ukraine or long-term migration, which would require more funds for bringing over and supporting a family.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  www.osw.waw.pl



  1. The government still does not use those reserves that can be used with the direct foreign investment. Regulatory costs in the Ukrainian market remain very high, the majority of foreign businessmen do not find their usual fair competition environment with understandable tax incentives for them.

  2. bonds of Ukrainian issuers will increase, a new class of institutional investors will form, and the state will promote the development of the national market of joint investment. When the advanced growth in demand of residents begins, we will immediately see flows of investment money from non-residents. Then the “long money” and modern technology of the first series will come to the Ukrainian market.

  3. Almost 1.3m Ukrainians last year received the temporary work registrations that Poland grants to citizens of its eastern neighbour, and 116,000 more received longer-term work permits. Both figures have leapt six-fold since 2013, driven largely by the economic slump that followed Ukraine’s 2014 pro-western revolution and the Russian-fomented conflict in the country’s east.

  4. One government adviser calls it “absurd” that Poland spends large sums educating Poles who leave and must be replaced by workers from next door.

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