In 2016, about 3.4 million first residence permits were issued in the European Union (EU) to non-EU citizens, a record number since comparable data are available (2008) and up by 28% (or nearly 735 000 residence permits) compared with 2015. This increase was mainly due to the larger number of

first permits issued for 'other reasons' (+64%) as well as for employment reasons (+21%). Employment reasons accounted for a quarter (25.4%) of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2016, family for 23.2% and education for 20.7%, while other reasons, including international protection and humanitarian status (about 14% of all first permits issued in 2016), represented 30.7%.

These administrative data on residence permits in the EU are complemented with an article issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Highest number of first residence permits issued in the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany.   In 2016, one out of four first residence permits was issued in the United Kingdom (865 900 residence permits issued, or 25.8% of total permits issued in the EU). It was followed by Poland (586 000, or 17.5%), Germany (504 800, or 15.0%), France (235 000, or 7.0%), Italy (222 400, or 6.6%), Spain (211 500, or 6.3%) and Sweden (146 700, or 4.4%). Compared to the population of each Member State, the highest rates of first resident permits issued in 2016 were recorded in Malta (20.6 first residence permits issued per thousand inhabitants), Cyprus (19.9), Poland (15.4) Sweden (14.8) and the United Kingdom (13.2). For the EU as a whole in 2016, 6.5 first residence permits were issued per thousand inhabitants.

For employment in Poland, for education in the United Kingdom Poland (494 000 permits, or 58% of all permits issued for employment reasons in the EU in 2016) was by far the first destination for employment related permits, while the United Kingdom (365 500 permits, or 53%) was the primary destination in the EU for education related reasons. With over 100 000 permits each, Germany (137 000, or 18%), Spain (115 100, or 15%) and Italy (101 300, or 13%) were the three Member States with the highest number of permits issued for family reasons in 2016. They were closely followed by France (93 900, or 12%) and the United Kingdom (89 300, or 11%).


Family reasons tend to prevail across individual Member States.   In eleven Member States, the largest numbers of permits were issued for family reasons, with the highest shares observed in Spain (54.4% of all residence permits issued in the Member State), Greece (53.5%) and Luxembourg (52.5%). Education was the main reason in Ireland (57.4% of all residence permits issued in the Member State in 2015), the United Kingdom (42.2%), Romania (39.0%) and Hungary (34.5%). In seven Member States, the main reason for issuing residence permits was employment, the highest shares being recorded in Poland (84.3% of all residence permits issued in the Member State), Lithuania (60.5%), Slovenia (51.0%) and Croatia (49.6%). Other reasons, which include international protection status and humanitarian reasons, were predominant in the six remaining Member States, notably in Germany (55.9% of all residence permits issued in the Member State), Sweden (50.8%) and Austria (50.6%). Almost half of residence permits granted to five citizenships In 2016, citizens of Ukraine (588 900 beneficiaries, of which 87% in Poland) continued to receive the highest number of permits in the EU, ahead of citizens of Syria (348 100, of which almost two-thirds in Germany), the United States (250 900, of which almost three-quarters in the United Kingdom), India (198 400, of which over 60% in the United Kingdom) and China (195 600, of which a majority in the United Kingdom). Around half of all first residence permits issued in the EU in 2016 were issued to citizens of these five countries.