1. Migration from Ukraine to Poland
BSSB.BE oecd.org 30/01/2019
* «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
According to the latest International Migration Outlook 2018, published annually by the OECD, in 2017 Poland became a global leader in the inflow of foreign, seasonal, short-term workforces (to a greater degree than the United States)2 . This is unusual because Poland has never been a country of immigration, and indeed still remains a country of emigration.
The current influx of short-term migrants has been possible due to the specific confluence of ‘pull’ factors (a very liberal system for the employment of foreigners in Poland geared to one geographical direction – the Eastern Partnership countries) with ‘push’ factors: the situation of shock in Ukraine after the outbreak of war and economic collapse in 2014-15. In addition, many Ukrainian migrants left Russia for Poland due to the Russian aggression.
Other important factors attracting Ukrainian citizens to Poland are the low travel costs, the ability to maintain family ties in Ukraine, extensive migration networks, and similarities of language and cultural closeness. For this reason, one of the terms given to the current wave of migration from Ukraine to Poland is ‘local mobility’, meaning a specific system of frequent short-term journeys to Poland, and where at the same time spending within the country of residence is limited, and living activities are concentrated in Ukraine, as opposed to migration in the classical sense, which assumes a permanent change of the centre of life activities. This conglomerate of factors has resulted in a noticeable worldwide boom in the short-term migration sector.
- The largest inflow of Ukrainians to Poland (as manifested in the number of employers’ declarations permitting short-term work3 and work permits) was recorded in 2014-16, when the rate of increase in the number of documents issued rose by a factor of several dozen, often by 100% or more annually.
- However in 2017, in comparison to the previous year, there was already a smaller, albeit still significant increase of 40% in the number of employers’ declarations issued (from 1.3 million to 1.8 million, see Figure 1).
- A slightly greater increase in the number of work permits issued was visible, although the share of Ukrainian citizens among the foreigners who obtained work permits in Poland (which had been rising for five years) has been halted (see Figure 2)4 .
- 2018 will probably see a further slowdown in the pace of growth, although due to significant changes in the legal regulations, this data will be difficult to compare with the statistics from previous years (see below). Figure 1. Number of declarations of intent to employ issued to Ukrainian citizens in 2013-17
Migrant stocks Because the types of administrative data collected in Poland show a high level of complexity, it is necessary to make use of available data concerning international migrant stocks (i.e. on the number of migrants resident in the country at a given point in time).
According to MRPiPS data, as of 31 December 2017, the number of Ukrainian citizens who held valid declarations of intention to employ a foreigner was 517,035, and the number ofUkrainians with a work permit was 207,927. If the number of Ukrainian citizens who are resident in Poland for business purposes or who do not need a work permit is taken into account, it turns out that the estimates by the National Bank of Poland from December 2017, that the average number of Ukrainians staying in Poland at any given time in 2017 is about 900,0005 , well reflects the scale of Ukrainian migration.
Data on migrant stocks are also used by the Office for Foreigners (Urząd ds. Cudzoziemców). As of mid-August 2018,168,000 Ukrainian citizens held documents entitling them to temporary or permanent residence in Poland6 (including uniform permits for residence and work, temporary residence permits issued for other reasons, and permanent residence permits issued inter alia on the basis of possessing the Polish Card [Karta Polaka]). 77% of these individuals were staying in Poland on the basis of a temporary residence permit, 21% had permanent residence permits, and fewer than 3% were long-term EU residents.
Permits related to some form of protection (refugee status, subsidiary protection, tolerated residence, humanitarian residence) were held by about 850 persons7 . This data, in a nutshell, illustrates the scale of long-term migration from Ukraine to Poland.
Another source of information on the numbers, but principally on the migration strategies and the impact of Ukrainian migration on the Polish and Ukrainian economies, is the data from the National Bank of Poland (NBP) on the financial transfers migrants carry out.
These remittances amounted to 11.7 billion zloty in 2017 (see Figure 3 in more detail) and 2.9 billion zloty in the first quarter of 2018 (an increase of 500 million zloty compared to the same period last year). The transfers included in international statistics are those which are made through banks or specialised companies providing financial services, whereas – as is shown by research into Ukrainian migrants – the circulation of the migrants means that they bring back their earnings personally to their country of origin. That is why, for now, the NBP’s data provides us with only a very narrow picture of Ukrainian migration.
Migration to Poland in the light of Ukrainian research
New light on the most recent wave of migration from Ukraine to Poland is being shed by a representative survey – the first since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine – carried out by the State Statistical Committee of Ukraine (SSCU)9 on the subject of external labour migration by Ukrainian citizens.
The principal aim of the survey, which was conducted in 2015-17, was to estimate the number of economic migrants resident abroad in this period, and to compare the data obtained with previous research carried out according to the same methodology.
It seems that the result obtained, that there have been 1.3 million citizens of Ukraine working abroad in the last two years, is something of an underestimate, especially when compared with the Polish data and previous surveys.
- 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: oecd.org