Poland Grapples with Immigration Challenges as New Strategy Takes Shape

Poland Grapples with Immigration Challenges as New Strategy Takes Shape

As more and more people choose to move to Poland, the government is struggling to process all the applications for residence permits.

At the same time, the government is working on a new plan for managing immigration over the next few years, from 2025 to 2030. This plan will look at both the challenges and opportunities that come with having more immigrants in the country.

State offices overwhelmed by surge in residence permit applications

Poland has been issuing the highest number of first residence permits to non-EU immigrants in the European Union (EU) for the past six years.

The number of foreign workers registered in the social insurance system has skyrocketed from under 200,000 in 2015 to over 1.1 million at the start of 2024.

This surge has left provincial administrative offices, responsible for registering foreign residents, grappling with a backlog of applications.

The Supreme Audit Office (NIK) examined 231 cases across five provincial offices and discovered irregularities in 60% of them, mainly due to extended processing times.

On average, residence permit applications take one year to process, with one extreme case taking over seven years to resolve.

These delays create uncertainty for both immigrants and the state, making it harder for employers to hire and retain foreign workers.

Staffing increases fail to match growing demand

Despite attempts to hire more staff, government offices in the provinces have struggled to handle the increasing number of applications.

Between 2018 and 2023, Silesia province increased its staff dealing with foreigners’ affairs by nearly 150%.

However, the average number of residence applications per employee rose from 249 in 2018 to 350 in 2023.

In Łódź and Subcarpathia provinces, staff workloads more than doubled during the same period.

The NIK has suggested that provincial offices should hire more staff to handle the growing number of applications from foreigners.

The influx of Ukrainian refugees since 2022 has made it even harder for these offices to keep up with their workload.

Poland develops new migration strategy for 2025 to 2030

Acknowledging the need for a comprehensive approach to migration, the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration is developing a new migration strategy for 2025 to 2030.

Poland has not had a formal migration strategy since it was abolished in 2016.

The initial version of the document is set to be finished by September 2024. It is expected to be put into use before Poland takes on the role of EU presidency in 2025.

The Committee for Migration, made up of representatives from different government departments, is taking charge of creating the strategy. They plan to consult with relevant stakeholders, including researchers and experts.

A comprehensive questionnaire covering different aspects of migration and migration policy will be sent out to institutions and organizations that are involved in migration policy.

The responses will shape the preliminary version of the strategy document. This document will go through public consultations before it is officially approved by the Council of Ministers.

Integration policy to play a key role in new strategy

Professor Maciej Duszczyk, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, stressed how crucial it is to have a solid integration policy within the new migration strategy.

He emphasized that before focusing on migration itself, it is vital to prioritize integration efforts.

The finalized strategy will result in creating new laws about migration, such as a new Act on Foreigners.

Preparing for a new era of travel and immigration

As Poland grapples with its immigration challenges, the upcoming launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in mid-2025 adds another layer of complexity.

The ETIAS aims to make it easier for people visiting the Schengen Area for short periods. However, Poland’s government offices, which are already busy, might struggle to implement this new system.

People planning to stay in Poland for a longer period, like families, investors, digital nomads, and students, will still have to go through the usual process to get residence permits.

This process might take longer until the new migration plan is fully put into action.

A blueprint for EU immigration reform?

Poland’s experiences with immigration challenges and its efforts to develop a comprehensive migration strategy are likely to influence the broader conversation around immigration policy within the EU.

When Poland takes over the EU presidency in 2025, their approach to immigration could become a blueprint for other countries.

It is about finding a balance between managing borders well and making sure newcomers feel welcome and included in society.

The future of immigration in Poland

As more people choose to move to Poland, the government and state offices are actively tackling the issues that arise from this increasing immigrant population.

A key part of their plan is to create a thorough migration strategy covering the years 2025 to 2030.

This strategy will mainly concentrate on how to help newcomers integrate into Polish society. It is an important move to make sure that Poland can handle and make the most of immigration in the years ahead.