This continues an unprecedented trend for the once emigration-prone country now experiencing immense immigration.
Ukraine and Belarusians Lead Immigrant Surge
The largest increases came from 21,264 Belarusians and 13,407 Ukrainians amidst ongoing regional conflicts.
Other notable rises include 4,588 Indians, 3,535 Colombians, and over 1,750 each from Nepal, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
However, 1,166 fewer Georgians and 1,017 fewer Russians joined the workforce last year as sanctions hampered Russians’ abilities to live and work in Poland.
Immigrants Needed to Support Aging Population
Experts estimate that Poland requires nearly two million more immigrant workers within the decade to maintain its current ratio of working-age to retired individuals.
This aligns with Poland issuing the European Union’s (EU) highest number of first residence permits to non-EU immigrants for the fifth consecutive year.
The registered foreign worker population grew over six times from fewer than 200,000 in 2015 to over 1.13 million now.
Ukraine and Belarus comprise nearly 80% of that group.
Heated Election Rhetoric Cannot Mask Economic Realities
Immigration factored prominently into Poland’s recent parliamentary elections.
Incumbents Law and Justice (PiS) accused the leading opposition led by Donald Tusk of being too relaxed on enforcement.
Tusk conversely blasted PiS for enabling uncontrolled immigration through mismanagement and corruption despite their rhetoric.
Both sides vowed to deny the EU's proposed relocation of asylum seekers into Poland to appease anxious citizens fearing diluted cultural identity.
However, experts state that despite political posturing, Poland’s continued development depends greatly on welcoming more immigrants to transform from a historic emigration hub into a thriving destination country.
The new administration declares no intentions to accept EU-relocated migrants.
Yet with an ETIAS scheme pending and the practical needs of a modernizing society requiring a larger workforce, Polish political attitudes appear increasingly disconnected from global economic realities.
Poland’s Economic Pulse Will Demand Increased Immigration
Poland’s foreign worker population will likely continue expanding for the foreseeable future regardless of domestic policy shifts.
The only question is whether legislation reflects pragmatism or ideology.