Immigrants in Poland

This report (in English) was written in Dec 2007/Jan 2008 as a part of the project “ICT for All”. Below you can read an introduction and the whole report you can find in attachment.

The year of 1989 was a turning point in the migration process in Poland – with political, social and economic transition, the mechanisms and patterns of migration have also changed. Although Poland is still a country of emigration, it has recently experienced an inflow of asylum seekers, movement of transit migrants and permanent immigration from the East and the West.

Along with the collapse of the USSR (especially in 1991) nine million citizens were seeking work and living space among the “well established” societies of Western Europe. This exodus of citizens of the former USSR has not made itself felt thus in the countries of Western Europe, since it has manifested itself on the pheriphery – in post-communist Poland. It was the movement of citizens of the former Soviet Union. This movement was already termed in the literature as primitive mobility. In this way Poland became a target area for ex-Soviets.

At first, Poles perceived the primitive mobility mainly as a threat as well as Western Europeans. But with time, visitors from the former Soviet Union who came to Poland to buy products for export and re-export brought such benefits as: an inflow of foreign currency, partial mitigation of a chronically negative official balance of payments, local economic development in a number of regions, an increase in job opportunities in those regions, enhanced competition on labour markets, etc. Polish migration policy has been to some extend in favour of this kind of mobility. For example, for the citizens of the main sending countries as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia visa regime was introduced by Polish government on a very last moment before the enlargement in the Autumn 2003.

Many of those people, having come to terms with the restrictions in Western Europe against mobility from the “East”, have started contemplating long-term or permanent residence in Poland. This is especially true for workers and traders who have already established networks in Poland. Other important fact, just very recently discovered by Poles is that all Central European countries and Poland among them, are now in the preliminary stage of an inflow of more stable immigrants flows not only from the former Soviet Union countries but from the far East and from the West (managerial migration and return migration of Poles). More over, completely new and exotic for this part of Europe groups of foreigners as, for instance, Vietnamese, Chinese and Armenians are rapidly forming. Their arrival takes all forms of inflow, from illegal entry, temporary stay and arranged marriages through to the setting-up a business and permanent settlement. This is a beginning of processes of a “new” ethnic diversity and also the creation of new ethnic consciousness.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s just a beginning of new social processes, research on different aspects of immigrants’ stay in Poland as e.g. possible modes of integration or a lack of integration or discrimination against foreigners is at the moment almost not existing.

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