Report: Foreigners make up increasingly larger share of Czech population

The number of foreigners living in Czechia has risen by nearly a third over the past five years and reached 6.3 percent of the total population by the end of last year, according to a newly published Migration Status Report for 2021 released by the Ministry of Interior. Ukrainians made up the largest foreigner segment, followed by Slovak and Vietnamese citizens.

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

A total of 660,849 foreigners were officially registered as residents in Czechia as of December 31, 2021, two-thirds of whom come from so-called “third countries”, meaning states excluding members of the European Union, European Economic Community, or Switzerland. Ukrainians made up the largest segment of foreigners in Czechia last year (196,875), accounting for nearly a third of the whole number. They were followed by Slovaks (114,630), the largest EU citizen foreigner group, 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, rising in year-on-year terms by 4.1 percent. The proportion of foreigners to the whole population of Czechia breached the 6 percent mark for the first time ever in the country’s history last year, reaching a total of 6.3 percent.

Photo: Gerd Altmann,  Pixabay,  CC0 1.0 DEED

When it came to reasons for their moving to Czechia, 64 percent of foreigners cited employment. According to the Interior Ministry’s report, long-term economic migration to the country that has been ranked at the bottom of EU unemployment rankings for years is also being boosted by government approved economic migration programmes. Short-term economic migration was also boosted by programmes aimed at easing the visa processes for seasonal workers during the pandemic, the report states. A total of 185,000 thousand short-term visas were thus issued for work reasons in 2021.

A total of 701,830 foreigners were registered as employees in Czechia in 2021. The majority of this number, more than 400,000, came from either Switzerland, the EU or EEC member states. Third countries citizens made up for 300,454 foreign employees. When it came to foreigners with Czech trade certificates, Ukrainians, Vietnamese and Slovak citizens made up for the top three, accounting for a total of more than 67,000 individuals, equivalent to two-thirds of all foreigners who possess such a certificate in Czechia.

Illustrative 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” rose by 58 percent and reached its highest level in 14 years, the report highlights that most of the cases related to foreigners entering the territory of Czechia in breach of pandemic measures. Illegal transit migration also rose sharply last year to 1,330 cases, up by 174 percent compared with 2020. According to the report, nearly 80 percent of these cases related to citizens of either Afghanistan, Syria or Morocco. The sharp rise, the Ministry of Interior writes, was down to changes in the Balkan Route that migrants take from the Mediterranean into the EU. The Czech Republic remains a transit country when it comes to illegal migration from so called “risk countries”, the report states.

Illustrative photo: Gerd Altmann,  Pixabay,  CC0 1.0 DEED

Czechia registered 1,411 applications for asylum in 2021, a year on year rise by more than a fifth but still lower than before the pandemic. Ukrainians and Georgians made up most of the applicants, followed by citizens from Afghanistan, which was rocked by the withdrawal of US troops and the Taliban takeover last year.