Ukrainian migrant workers flock to Poland in record numbers

22 January, 11:07 AM

As Poland continues to simplify its procedures for obtaining a work permit, the amount of Ukrainians traveling to Poland for work has surged by 37.3 percent year-over-year, according to foreign employment agency Gremi Personal.

Poland began simplifying its work permits in 2006, with additional simplifications implemented in 2007 and 2018. Starting on Jan. 29, Poland will be issuing two-year work permits.

“Extending the term of work permits could lead to a greater flow of Ukrainian laborers to Poland in 2022,” according to the agency.

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Gremi Personal also suggested that increasingly more Ukrainian migrant workers would remain in Poland long-term.

“The (two-year permit) is a key document that allows any Ukrainian citizen to start work in Poland (…), a novelty that enables Ukrainians to work in Poland for more than three months,” said Gremi Personal.

Previously, would-be laborers could only receive six-month work permits, and would then be faced with a five-month wait for an annual permit.

Work and employment website GRC.ua also registered the spiking interest Ukrainians have in employment in Poland.

According to the World Migration Report, Ukraine is 8th in annual migrant workers globally, with 5.5-6 million citizens working abroad. Of those, 1.5 million Ukrainians work in Poland.

In 2016, Ukrainians made up 61% of the migrant workforce in Poland, and that share has only grown.

Substantially higher wages serve as a powerful pull factor drawing Ukrainian labor across the border. The median monthly salary for migrant workers in Poland is UAH 78,100 ($2,800):

·       50 percent of employers pay from UAH 44,100 ($1,554) to UAH 103,500 ($3,647)

·       29 percent – from UAH 103,500 ($3,647) to UAH 123,300 ($4,345)

·       21 percent – more than UAH 123,300 ($4,345)

A Ukrainian government program to incentivize labor to remain in Ukraine, launched in early 2021, did not meet expectations. The initiative made migrant workers who came back to Ukraine eligible for a government small business grant of $5,700.

“Official statistics demonstrated that 2021 saw migrant labor flows rapidly recover and even surpass their pre-pandemic levels,” said GRC.ua.

“In 2020, Poland issued 500,000 work visas to Ukrainian citizens, while after just the first half of 2021 that number sat at 400,000; therefore, we predict that the number of migrant workers will not decrease in 2022.”

The National Bank of Ukraine seems to agree with this outlook, since in late 2021 it raised its remittance payments forecast from $13 billion to $14 billion.

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