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Governance of migrant integration in Slovakia

[Last update published: January 2024]

The number of migrants in Slovakia increased notably since the country's 2004 accession to the EU, with the number of third-country nationals (TCNs) reaching over 238 000 by the summer of 2023. These TCNs represent an almost 80%-share of the migrant population, and Slovakia's recent economic growth continues to attract primarily low-skilled workers. The war against Ukraine, in addition, hugely affected the number of legally residing foreigners.

Statistics

The statistics in the chart above are based on Eurostat's Non-national population by group of citizenship, 1 January 2022. An update from Eurostat is expected in March 2024.

According to Eurostat's Migration and migrant population statistics, as of 1 January 2022, there were about 22 200 third-country nationals (TCNs), representing 0.4% of the population, and another 37 900 EU citizens (0.7%) living in Slovakia at the time.

In addition, on 1 January 2023, according to the country’s interior ministry, 222 525 TCNs legally reside in Slovakia. They represented 4.1% of the total population. This notable rise is due to the number of people displaced from Ukraine. Most TCNs came from Ukraine, Serbia, and Vietnam. Slovakia also has sizeable communities from the Russian Federation, North Macedonia, Georgia, and China. Of these TCNs, 98 281 had valid temporary residence permits, 28 794 were permanent residents, and 95 450 had a tolerated residence status. In 2022, 42% of temporary residence permits granted were for entrepreneurship, 23% - for employment, 11% - for non-nationals of Slovak descent, and 13% - for family reunification.

By the end of November 2023, in addition, Slovakia counted a total of 113 110 displaced persons from Ukraine who were under temporary protection in the country – see monthly updates in the numbers of temporary protection beneficiaries on Eurostat.

Other detailed statistical data is available in the European Migration Network (EMN)’s 2022 country factsheet for Slovakia, with insights into the age and gender of TCNs, the most common types of residence permits issued and international protection statistics.

The recent OECD/EC Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2023: Settling In report provides further breakdowns of the composition of migrant populations and households in Slovakia, including in terms of immigration flows by legal category, concentration in densely populated areas, duration of stay and household composition.

Integration strategy

To foster the inclusion of migrants, Slovakia adopted in 2014 its first policy document detailing migrant integration governance. The Integration Policy of the Slovak Republic targets economic migrants, beneficiaries of international protection and second-generation migrants. It identifies areas of integration where policy measures should be taken. Among them, access to rented housing, health care, citizenship and the labour market are considered crucial. The strategy also wants to improve the media representation of migrants. Two action plans (covering the periods 2014-2016 and 2017-2018) elaborate on measures to be taken to reach these objectives. Slovakia was preparing an updated version of the integration policy, originally scheduled for 2020, but not yet adopted.

The integration governance strategy partially draws upon the strategy entitled Migration Policy of the Slovak Republic: Perspective until 2025, adopted in September 2021. The strategy aims to ensure long-term, seamless coexistence of the country's majority and migrant populations and to avoid negative social patterns. Additionally, it seeks to strengthen and expand opportunities for funding migrant integration measures, including through the more varied use of systemic funding, EU funds, and other extra-budgetary financial sources. One of the main priority needs identified within the new policy is the need to strengthen the integration of international protection holders at the local level. This would include ensuring the availability of high-quality education for migrant children and the continued provision of Slovak language classes for migrants, as well as access to decent housing and social and cultural support. These local authorities' competencies have been significantly strengthened after start of the war against Ukraine in February 2022.

Based on the governmental resolution No. 496 from 8 September 2021, a Migration Policy Action Plan under the auspice of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family was drafted. The action plan projects measures up until 2025 and pays specific attention to migrant integration. The action plan targets to support the integration of foreigners with legal residence at the local and regional levels, primarily by cooperating with local authorities and using the financial resources from EU funds and other alternative extra-budgetary resources. The synergy between existing local and regional level integration networks is of pivotal focus.

The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family adopted a strategy for the labour mobility of foreigners in October 2018. Some sections of the strategy cover the integration of economic migrants, including measures to facilitate the recognition of their education, the increased importance of local-level integration, and the update of both the Migration Policy and the Integration Policy.

The integration strategy partly involves Slovakia's Recovery and Resilience Plan, which was approved in 2021 by the EU's Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). The plan was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects, as well as to the long-term systemic shortcomings of the Slovak economy. The program contains reforms and investments that have the potential to steer Slovakia toward a green and digital future. It follows the 2018 Strategy on labour mobility of foreigners in the Slovak Republic and the 2021 Migration Policy of the Slovak Republic: Perspectives Until 2025 mentioned above, focusing mainly on labour migration, including integration issues. It identifies the inevitable migration of (highly qualified) third-country nationals as beneficial to Slovakia's development. The plan proposes reforming existing policies and legislation on migration and integration in Slovakia and working to attract a qualified labour force from abroad to respond to increasing shortages in the country's skilled labour force.

Integration programme

There is currently no integration programme for TCNs in Slovakia but the Migration Office at the interior ministry has been preparing in 2015 a State Integration Program for Beneficiaries of International Protection.

Currently, EU-funded projects carried out by NGOs under the supervision of the interior ministry offer a set of activities and a wide range of services to beneficiaries of international protection. To receive financial support to cover their accommodation costs and basic needs, beneficiaries of international protection must attend several activities of the so-called Integration Project, which includes mainly language courses and employment counselling. Once beneficiaries of international protection start receiving their allowance, participation in the integration activities becomes obligatory. In addition to counselling and psychological support, the Integration Project includes:

  • language courses
  • civic education
  • vocational training
  • financial contribution

Concerning those displaced from Ukraine, Slovakia adopted several strategic documents. On 13 September 2022, Slovakia approved an Action plan for the managed integration of displaced persons from Ukraine. The interdepartmental Steering Committee for Migration and Integration developed the draft action plan, with the participation of local governments and the non-profit sector, under the leadership of the Migration Office of the Ministry of the Interior. The goal of the action plan p is to create conditions for beneficiaries of temporary protection from Ukraine so that they can integrate into society as quickly as possible. As the central coordinator of the Steering Committee for Migration and Integration, the Migration Office of the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic prepared the plan in cooperation with public administration institutions, including local authorities and non-governmental organisations. The action plan contains 12 recommendations for the public and private administrations – including social security, health, housing, education, work, and culture. These include the creation of a financing scheme for the reconstruction of designated buildings owned by the local authorities and the state and the expansion of language training for children in schools and employed displaced persons.

In addition, on 26 October 2022, a contingency plan for dealing with the emergency context of the mass arrival of people from Ukraine between October 2022 and March 2023. Among the key goals were: ensuring a safe and dignified entry and stay on the territory of the Slovak Republic for displaced persons from Ukraine; guaranteeing access to material, legal, psychosocial, and health support for displaced persons from Ukraine; ensuring increased attention and protection for people with specific needs and the most endangered social groups, including victims of violence. The contingency plan was updated on 28 June 2023 and is valid until December 2023.

Evaluation

Since 2014, 3 administrative reports have summarised what the integration policy has achieved. The first concluded that most initial activities had been carried out. The inclusion of migrants as a target group in the national housing strategy was noted as a crucial development. The second and third reports also spotlight progress where available, with the latest paper highlighting steps taken by public institutions and local authorities towards a cross-cutting and mainstreamed migration and integration agenda.

In 2018, however, the government repealed the obligation to submit annual administrative reports.

The international Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) points out that, just like in most Central and Eastern European countries, migrants in Slovakia enjoy basic rights, but not equal opportunities. Slovakia’s current policies do not seem to see immigrants as potential citizens, but as strangers. The country's approach to integration is therefore classified as providing ‘equality on paper’, with Slovakia receiving 39 out of 100 points on the MIPEX 2020 scale, with the average being 49.

Legislation

Law on foreigners

The last amendment of the Act 404/2011 on the residence of foreigners came into force on 1 January 2023. The amendment reduces the administrative burden of third-country nationals applying for a residence permit in Slovakia. It also entitles displaced persons from Ukraine with temporary protection status to apply for temporary or permanent residence.

Asylum law

The Act on Asylum 480/2002 was last amended on 28 May 2023, and implemented as of 1 June 2023. It relates to people displaced from Ukraine with a temporary protection status.  The amendment regulates the provision of allowance for the accommodation of people granted the status of temporary protection and extends the duration of this allowance until December 2023. The specific conditions for this allowance define government regulation no. 179/2023 Coll.

Integration law

Slovakia does not have a self-standing integration law. The strategic document Integration Policy of the Slovak Republic was approved through Resolution of the Government of the Slovak Republic No. 45 of 29 January 2014.

Citizenship law

Act 40/1993 Coll regulates the acquisition of citizenship.

Anti-discrimination law

Act 365/2004 guarantees equal treatment and protects against discrimination.

Public authorities

The International Relations and European Affairs Department at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family is the authority responsible for migrant integration governance in Slovakia. However, the actual implementation of integration measures is the result of a cross-sectional cooperation between several public institutions. The Management Committee for the Migration, Integration, and Inclusion of Foreigners is responsible for coordinating migration and integration policy implementation, and as of October 2022, for enacting other tasks of strategic importance and those resulting from crises. The second cross-sectional body is the Interdepartmental Expert Commission for Labour Migration and Integration of Foreigners (MEKOMIC). It is the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family of the Slovak Republic coordinating body for the migration and integration policy field and an advisory body to the Minister of Labour. The members are experts from central state administration bodies. If necessary, non-governmental organizations are also invited to the meetings. Specific integration policy measures are also implemented in cooperation with the non-governmental sector.

In addition, local authorities provide social care, education and other types of support to all vulnerable groups, including migrants. They do not always identify the latter as a target group but this is changing, as the 2014 integration strategy obliges them to develop local integration strategies. The document highlights the future crucial role of both local authorities and self-governing regions, and identifies better cooperation between all levels of governance as a key goal in the areas of data collection and support provision.

Since the start of the war against Ukraine, local authorities have become more actively involved in integration and service provision to beneficiaries of international protection and migrants. Some of them (e.g. the Košice self-governing region) have opened in cooperation with non-governmental organisations, and new integration centres in support of those displaced from Ukraine.

The Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic is responsible for the migration and asylum policymaking, the management of the EU funds including AMIF and data collection. The Migration Office MV SR also coordinates the integration of beneficiaries of international protection. The Migration Office is in charge of proceedings for the granting of asylum, care for asylum seekers, integration of those granted international protection, unaccompanied minors applying for asylum and the implementation of the Dublin II Regulation. It facilitates communication with the public institutions providing services, as well as cooperates with NGOs implementing the Integration Project programme, as well as stakeholders.

The Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family is responsible for the provision of employment permits, in charge of dealing with illegal employment and data collection.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, within the framework of the consular agenda, is responsible for issuing visas, accepting applications for residence and citizenship, and collecting data. At the same time, it provides cooperation in voluntary returns, expulsions and preparation of readmission agreements. The ministry is also responsible for relations with third countries and the planning and coordination of development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

Civil society

There are no consultative bodies on integration in Slovakia. However, non-governmental organisations cooperate closely with the public authorities and institutions in terms of the integration of migrants and beneficiaries of international protection. NGOs are also integration services providers and implement integration programs for third-country nationals and international protection holders.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides integration services to third-country nationals through 8 Migration Integration Centres across Slovakia that are financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The first two MICs opened in in 2006, providing comprehensive services for third-country nationals in the two largest cities in the country - Bratislava and Košice. In April 2023, IOM opened its other 6 MIC offices. Now migrants can use services for free in Banská Bystrica, Nitra, Prešov, Trenčín, Trnava, and Žilina, too.

Slovenská humanitná rada (Slovak Humanitarian Council) implemented the integration project Rifugio until 31 October 2023, also funded by AMIF, for beneficiaries of international protection. Experts from the non-governmental sector or international organisations (IOM, UNICEF Slovensko, UNHCR, the Milan Šimečka Foundation, the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and the Culture or Human Rights League) are involved in consultations with public institutions or the design of the strategic documents.

Civil society has been playing an important role in migrant integration, especially after the start of the war against Ukraine in February 2022. The cooperation between civil society and the state strengthened. Civil society played a pivotal role in the assistance to beneficiaries of temporary protection immediately after the war started. Its role and engagement significantly increased in the area of integration in particular – both in terms of cooperation between state institutions and implementing activities and the provision of services on local and national levels. In November 2022, Minister of Interior Roman Mikulec initiated a Memorandum on cooperation in solving the emergency in connection with the arrival of a large number of people from Ukraine to the Slovak Republic caused by the escalation of the armed conflict in Ukraine, signed by the ministry and the civil society organisations.

A leading NGO in migrant integration is the Human Rights League, with two physical offices in Bratislava and Nitra.

Mareena, a community organization targeted to migrants and beneficiaries of international protection, operates in three centres in Bratislava, Nitra, and Košice.

The Slovak Humanitarian Council, which provides integration services to beneficiaries of international protection, works in Bratislava and Košice. Caritas Slovakia opened 25 first-contact centres offering support and counselling to displaced persons from Ukraine in June 2022. The centres were opened in Košice, Prešov, Bratislava, Nitra, Poprad, and 15 other cities where more than 75 000 migrants from Ukraine were accommodated. These centres aim to provide immediate services, early integration support, and advice for individual needs.

NGOs also cooperate with local authorities. The integration centre of the Košice self-governing region is run in cooperation of Human Rights League, Mareena, Človek v ohrození, ETP Slovensko, Foundation Dedo, Všetci pre rodinu, Dorka, Oáza – nádej pre nový život, and Archdiocesan Charity Košice.

Among other NGOs involved in integration are ADRA, Človek v ohrození, IPčko, and SME Spolu, o. z., Slovak Red Cross, and many other organizations, often active instead on local and community levels.

International organisations have become more active, too. Besides the IOM, in April 2022 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Slovakia in Bratislava and Košice was opened that helps to streamline and facilitate the management of the aftermath of the war against Ukraine and the integration of beneficiaries of temporary protection. Similarly, UNICEF Slovakia is involved in supporting children and youth from Ukraine in their integration, in terms of education in particular. Both UNICEF and UNHCR actively cooperate on the integration of all migrants, and, in the cases of people displaced from Ukraine in particular – with state institutions, local authorities and civil society.

Funding

Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing through several EU funds. In addition to EU funds, national and private funds are available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out intergation projects.

EU funds

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in Slovakia

  • Details: AMIF allocated €29,19 million to Slovakia over the 2021-2027 period. Slovak AMIF programme.
  • National managing authority: The national managing authority for AMIF in Slovakia is the Ministry of Interior.

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)

  • Details: ESF+ enables Slovakia over the period 2021 – 2027 budget of €2.1 billion.
  • National managing authority: The ESF+ will be in Slovakia implemented during 2021 – 2027 within the one joint program Programme Slovakia. The managing authority of the Slovakia Program is the Ministry of Investment, Regional Development, and Informatization of the Slovak Republic (MIRRI SR). For the implementation of ESF+ activities, in collaboration with the managing authority, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Family of the Slovak Republic (MPSVR SR) is responsible.

Other EU funds for integration available in Slovakia

ERASMUS+, the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe

National managing authority: Slovak Academic Association for International Cooperation (SAAIC)

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), offering material assistance to the most vulnerable or in need

National managing authority: Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, Section of Social and Family Policy

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), supporting the development of rural economies and communities

National managing authority:  Ministry of Investments, Regional Development and Informatization of the Slovak Republic

Other Funds

Other public funding in Slovakia

Active Citizens Fund (ACF), in the period 2018-2023, will distribute a total of €7.7 million in 17 grant calls for projects led by Slovak civic organisations.

  • The Visegrad Fund provides regular funding opportunity (Visegrad Grants, Visegrad+ Grants, Strategic Grants); these may involve also integration being implemented in partnership with other organisations/institutions of Visegrad
  • The justice ministry's grants scheme promotes, supports and protects human rights and freedoms and prevents all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia antisemitism and all forms of intolerance, announcing calls annually
  • The Culture of Disadvantaged Groups grants of the culture ministry include migrants as a target group, and also support the fight against disinformation.
  • KULT MINOR is a fund supporting the culture of minorities, available through the culture ministry
  • The EU-CARE national project, Assistance to persons from Ukraine in their access and integration in Slovakia – NGOs', administered through the Open Society Foundation, aims to integrate displaced populations from Ukraine living in Slovakia.
  • EEA and Norway Grants

Private funding in Slovakia

Other stakeholders and useful resources

Providing integration services

  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM)  operates migration information centres in Bratislava and Košice
  • The Human Rights League provides a variety of services including legal counselling
  • Mareena operates three community integration centres in Bratislava, Nitra and Košice, providing diverse community services including language courses, and awareness-raising activities

Implementing the integration programme

Slovak Humanitarian Council

Campaigning

Publishing statistics

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