It is a global trend that people go to countries where wages and the standard of living are higher. Thousands of Hungarian citizens have left the country since the EU accession. Meanwhile, the number of foreign citizens doubled in Hungary in the last two decades. Today, more than 200 thousand foreigners live here.
According to Népszava, the coronavirus affected all aspects of global migration. The Central Statistical Office (KSH) published its summary of the immigration and emigration trends in Hungary (Demographic Portrait). They said that, between 2009 and 2019, the number of foreigners coming to Hungary remained steady, around 20-25 thousand. This number jumped to 55 thousand in 2019, while it dropped to 44 thousand in the first year of COVID, in 2020. The trend regarding the number of foreigners living in Hungary is clear. The number has doubled since 2000.
Thanks to government measures, the composition of the foreigners working in Hungary changed. In 2016, the cabinet accepted a decree
allowing citizens of neighbouring countries to work in Hungary without any special permit.
The only condition was that they had to work in sectors struggling with a labour shortage. That is why half of the 55 thousand immigrants came from Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, and Romania in 2019. In 2020, this rate decreased to 35 pc. For example, the number of Ukrainian guest workers was 21 thousand in 2019 and only 13 thousand in 2020.
Meanwhile, the number of Slovakian citizens with an address on the Hungarian side of the border jumped four times. They did not move here, they only needed a Hungarian address to continue their work as a commuter undisturbed.
Interestingly, a third of the immigrants is still from Germany, while a quarter is from Asia.
The data show similar trends concerning emigrating Hungarians. 7.3 pc of Hungarians left the country, a much lower rate than in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria or Romania. There, the rate is around 20-24 pc. According to KSH, the number of emigrant Hungarians has decreased since 2016. Furthermore, from 2019, more of them come home than go to the West.
For example, the United Kingdom lost much of its popularity because of Brexit.
There were years when the number of Hungarians getting a social security number in the UK reached 20 thousand.
In 2020, this number was only 4,500. The trend is similar in Germany, even though the numbers did not drop much. According to the authors of the Demographic Portrait, the number of immigrants exceeded the number of emigrants in the last 20 years in Hungary.
Currently, 490 thousand Hungarians live in the countries of the European Economic Area (EU+UK, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). 400 thousand of them left Hungary after 2000. According to the data of the United Nations, 714 thousand Hungarians who left Hungary now live in 64 countries all over the globe.
71 thousand of the foreigners living in Hungary work here. 29 thousand are studying, while 33 thousand would like to live here permanently. More than 23 thousand of them came because of their families, while the aim of 33 thousand is unknown to the authorities. There are only 5,110 foreigners who received international protection in Hungary. In 2020, only 83 people received refugee status while 43 got protected status. The authorities admitted only four foreign citizens that year.