Report: Foreigners make up growing share of Czech population

Buildings of the Czech Interior Ministry |  Photo: Ondřej Tomšů, Radio Prague International

A total of 660,849 foreigners were officially registered as residents of the Czech Republic as of December 31, 2021, two-thirds of whom come from so-called “third” countries, i.e. states excluding members of the European Union, the European Economic Community or Switzerland. Ukrainians made up the largest segment of foreigners in Czechia last year (196,875), accounting for almost a third of the total number. They were followed by Slovaks (114,630), the largest group of foreign EU citizens, Vietnamese citizens (64,851) and Russians (45,365).

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 saw the number of foreigners settling in Czechia continue to grow, increasing by 4.1% year-on-year. The proportion of foreigners to the entire Czech population crossed the 6% mark for the first time in the country’s history last year, reaching a total of 6.3%.

Photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay, CC0

Regarding the reasons for moving to the Czech Republic, 64% of foreigners cited employment. According to the Home Office report, long-term economic migration to the country which has been ranked at the bottom of the European unemployment rankings for years is also being boosted by government-approved economic migration schemes. Short-term economic migration has also been boosted by programs to ease visa processes for seasonal workers during the pandemic, the report said. A total of 185,000,000 short-term visas were issued for work reasons in 2021.

A total of 701,830 foreigners were registered as employed in Czechia in 2021. The majority of this number, over 400,000, were from Switzerland, the EU or EEC member states. Third-country nationals represented 300,454 foreign employees. As for foreigners with Czech business certificates, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Slovak citizens constituted the top three, representing a total of more than 67,000 people, equivalent to two-thirds of all foreigners who have such a certificate. in Czechia.

Illustration photo: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Illegal migration was also on the rise. However, while the number of detected “illegal migrants” increased by 58% and reached its highest level in 14 years, the report underlines that most of the cases concerned foreigners entering the territory of Czechia in violation of pandemic measures. . Illegal transit migration also rose sharply last year to 1,330 cases, up 174% from 2020. According to the report, almost 80% of these cases involved Afghan, Syrian or Moroccan citizens. The sharp increase, writes the Interior Ministry, is due to changes in the Balkan route that migrants take from the Mediterranean to the EU. The Czech Republic remains a transit country for illegal immigration from so-called risk countries, the report says.

Illustration photo: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay, CC0

Czechia registered 1,411 asylum applications in 2021, an annual increase of more than a fifth but still lower than before the pandemic. Ukrainians and Georgians made up most of the candidates, followed by citizens of Afghanistan, which was rocked by the withdrawal of US troops and the Taliban’s takeover last year.

Berta D. Wells