Contrary to its reputation for disliking foreign workers and refugees, Poland has emerged as one of Europe’s largest grantors of residence permits. After Malta and Cyprus, where foreigners can easily purchase residency, Poland is the European Union’s largest issuer of such permits.
Their main beneficiaries are Ukrainians. Indeed, of the over half a million (first-time) residence permits issued by Poland in 2015, about 80 percent went to Ukrainians. Despite the Polish Prime Minister’s claim that these are “refugees,” the bulk of these permits were issued to allow the recipient to pursue work—largely temporary—in Poland. Furthermore, these permissions are not the product of an asylum application. They are technically considered economic migrants. In fact, according to Poland’s own statistics, Poland has only given twenty-one people refugee status in 2016.