More than three million first residence permits were granted by European Union member states in 2017, figures from the bloc’s official statistics agency revealed on Monday.
Poland was the main country giving first residence permits with 683,228 delivered or 21.7% of the bloc’s total, according to Eurostat.
It was followed by Germany (535,446 or 17%) and the UK (517,000 or 16.4%).
First residence permits granted by an EU member state allow nationals from non-EU countries (also known as third-country nationals) to stay for at least 3 months on its territory.
Malta gave 10,974. The majority of these were given to Serbians (2,033), followed by the Philippines (1,180), India (784), North Macedonia (563) and Russia (486).
In Europe largest share of first residence permits was given to people from Ukraine who were nearly 662,000 (21%) to be granted such permits. The vast majority — 88% — received their permits from Poland.
According to the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration, Ukraine “is one of the most migration-affected countries in Europe.”
It estimates that the country’s diaspora totals up 20 million people and that 1.36 million are internally displaced because of the protracted conflict in the eastern regions, which has been ongoing since 2014.
Nationals from Syria and China were next, totalling 7% and 6% of all permits respectively.
Germany was the main port of call for Syrian nationals with 63% of permits given to Syrian emanating from there. Meanwhile, the UK handed out about half of first residence permits granted to people from China, the United States and India.