International Migration in Lithuania: Facts and Figures

 According to the data from United Nations, the number of international migrants in the second half of 2019 stood at 271.6 million. International migrants account for nearly 3.5% of the world’s population.

In the context of the European Union (EU), one may observe that the development of the EU states is directly tied with the economic aspects of migration. Due to the low birth rates, as well as low natural increase and ageing of population, the EU is facing a big problem of workforce, which is usually addressed by engaging emigrants; naturally, the number of immigrants is constantly growing in the EU. According to Eurostat, since 1992, the influence of immigration on the growth of Europe’s population has become larger than the natural population change.

We can spot similar trends in Lithuania as well. Statistics show that international migration in Lithuania and its scale began to grow in 2010, and the immigration of foreign nationals has been increasing rapidly since 2015. In 2018, 12,322 foreign nationals arrive in Lithuania (10,213 nationals in 2017), 94% of them from outside of the European Union. Most of them were citizens of Ukraine (46% of all non-EU citizens arriving in the country), Belarus, and Russia.

The indicators of migration in Lithuania for the 1st half of 2019 show an increase in the number of foreigners who have obtained a permit for temporary residence in Lithuania. A total of 16,883 foreigners have been reported to obtain temporary residence permits in the country during the first six months of the year, up by a massive 47.0% compared to the same period of last year. Most of the residence permits issued were new (up by 59.1% over the year), a small part of them constituted replacements on the grounds of a former permit or otherwise (up by 18.7% over the year). Whereas the number of foreign nationals bearing permits of a long-term Lithuanian resident to reside in the EU has dropped from 18,342 in 2018 to 18,108 in the first half of 2019.

Foreigners come to Lithuania for a variety of reasons: family reunion; education or internship or professional advancement; intention to engage in legitimate business; employment in a high-skill position; pursuing work in Lithuania. The latter has been the most popular reason for non-EU citizens arriving to live in the country since 2016 in the context of international migration in Lithuania. Compared to 2015, the volume of employment-related migration has more than tripled (4,752 temporary residence permits were issued to would-be workers in Lithuania in 2015; in 2018, the number of said permits stood at 15,486). According to the Migration Department, over 7 months of this year, 19,884 temporary residence permits have been issued to foreigners, of which 14,965 were issued on the grounds of employment. Compared to the same period of 2018, there has been a 65% increase in the number of foreign nationals migrating to Lithuania for employment reasons.

Notably, the number of specialists from the list of shortage professions is growing and amounting to 68% of all foreigners arriving to work in the country over the first 7 months. Most of them are long-haul truck drivers working for international shipping companies, bricklayers, concrete pourers, plasterers, welders, tailors, and so on.

The growing levels of international migration in Lithuania also affect the increasing indicators of illegal migration. The Migration Department has reported that over the first half of 2019 alone 2,919 foreigners have been barred from entering the country (up by 18.1 per cent against the same period of 2018). Both the number of foreign nationals temporary accommodated at the Foreigner Registration Centre of the State Border Guard Service and the number of foreigners obligated to leave the country or returned to their country of origin have increased as well.

Additional information: Migration in Lithuania: Migration Indicators for the 1st Half of 2019