The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to facilitate immigration to Poland for citizens of over 20 countries and could allow 400,000 newcomers every year, according to a report by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper.
The move could mark a major turning point for Poland, as the country moves from being one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world into embracing multiculturalism, even under what many believed to be a conservative government opposed to mass immigration.
The ministry intends to allow direct visa applications at the Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry, bypassing consulates.
Currently, only Belarusians have this privilege under regulations implemented in January 2021. The project seeks to expand this access to citizens from a multitude of other nations, including Ukraine; countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, UAE); the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia); Asia (Pakistan, India, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam); Nigeria; and Moldova.
The initiative is claiming it aims to respond to the needs of the labor market. “Although it is difficult to estimate the number of people who will take advantage of the easier visa issuance, it has been accepted in the Social and Economic Council that it will be ‘not less than 400,000 people per year,’” Rzeczpospolita reports.
Additionally, direct visa applications at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs would significantly simplify the process of extending a visa. The simplified procedure will be possible for the purpose of taking up work or business activities, studying or conducting scientific research, using the Polish Card, temporary stay for family reunification, and transferring within a company.
In April, the Kresy.pl news portal reported on the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s efforts to expedite procedures for employing seasonal workers from Asia and Africa in Poland. This involves establishing a Polish consulate in Bangladesh and increasing staff at the Indian consulate.
In 2022, Poland issued nearly 365,500 work permits to foreign nationals, with over 136,000 permits granted to individuals from Muslim-majority countries, primarily from Central Asia, according to government data.
In June 2022, the “Wise Europa” think tank released a report on immigration titled “Hospitable Poland 2022+.” The project received honorary patronage from the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland and was co-financed by the Stefan Batory Foundation. It highlights Poland’s transition from an emigration country to an immigration country.
It’s worth noting that even before the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Poland issued a record number of work permits and employment declarations issued to foreign workers in 2021, with nearly 3 million such documents granted to foreign nationals, representing a 30 percent increase from the previous year.