Non-EU citizens face many obstacles to integration under the halfway favourable policies in Hungary, which scores 43/100 (the MIPEX 56 average is 49). Hungary’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as ‘equality on paper’ only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Hungary enjoy some basic rights and security, but not equal opportunities. Many obstacles emerge for immigrants in Hungary in several areas, especially in education, health, political participation and access to nationality. Policies are particularly restrictive and unfavourable on education. Hungary still needs to strongly invest in long-term security and, foremost, equal opportunities for immigrants, which are below-average in Hungary when compared to most MIPEX countries. In contrast, other new destination countries are following international reform trends and continuing to make improvements (e.g. Czechia and Greece).
A country’s approach to integration matters because policies influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Hungary’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as equals but also as strangers. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens.
Restrictive policies like Hungary’s can create a ‘vicious circle’ of exclusion that reinforces fear and separation. Policies that treat immigrants as threats lead more people to see immigrants as general threats and treat them in ways that harm integration. Under restrictive policies, the public experiences higher levels of xenophobia and islamophobia and lower levels of social trust, which leads them to fewer contacts and positive experiences with immigrants.
Hungary’s integration policies are below average for the EU. Compared to the other Visegrad countries, Hungary generally appears to adopt similar policies to Slovakia and Poland. In contrast, integration policies are more developed in neighbouring Czechia.
- Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: Since 2014, some categories of temporary workers can immediately access the labour market. However, Hungary has not yet created effective targeted programmes and creates longer delays to equal access to jobs and training for non-EU legal residents.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Based on Hungary's inclusive national definition of the family, its family reunification policy sets only basic economic and housing requirements, but families are only somewhat secure in their status in Hungary and kept more dependent on their sponsor than in nearly all other countries.
- Education: Critically unfavourable: Migrant education polices in Hungary remain critically weak, ranking last among MIPEX countries (together with Indonesia).. There are restrictions in law for certain categories of migrants to access compulsory and non-compulsory education. Furthermore, schools receive some of the least support to address the new needs and opportunities of immigrant pupils.
- Health: Slightly unfavourable: Immigrants have only limited access to healthcare and little targeted information about entitlements and health issues. Typical of most Central European countries, health policies do relatively little to make services more accessible and support promising practices responding to specific health needs.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: A major area of weakness across Central Europe, immigrants are denied the opportunity to participate in public life in Hungary, as foreign citizens have a limited right to vote, and they receive no support by policymakers.
- Permanent residence: Favourable: Leading in Central Europe, settled non-EU residents experience a favourable path to secure their status and equal rights as permanent residents. However, the status of permanent residents is not fully secure, given, for example, the short period of absence allowed.
- Access to nationality: Slightly unfavourable: Even though dual nationality is allowed, Hungary has more restrictive ordinary naturalisation policies than most countries.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: Ranked top-10, Hungary leads Central Europe on anti-discrimination through broad laws, a strong equality body and strong possibilities for enforcement. Victims can also turn to the Equal Treatment Authority, one of the strongest equality bodies in Europe.