Non-EU citizens face many obstacles to integration under the slightly unfavourable policies in Poland, which scores 40/100. Poland’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as ‘equality on paper’ only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Poland enjoy some basic rights and security (to settle long-term, but not equal opportunities. Poland still needs to strongly invest in equal rights and equal opportunities for immigrants, which are below-average in Poland when compared to most MIPEX countries.
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. Poland’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants not as their equals, but instead as strangers. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens.
Many obstacles emerge for immigrants in Poland in several areas, especially in areas like the labour market, education, health and political participation Restrictive policies like Poland’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.
Polish integration policies are below average for the EU but similar to the average EU13 country. Compared to the other Visegrad countries, Poland generally appears to adopt similar policies to Slovakia and Hungary. In contrast, integration policies are more developed in neighbouring Czechia.
- Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: As Poland has opened to labour migrants, non-EU newcomers can increasingly find jobs and start businesses, but without targeted support or the same general support and benefits as Polish citizens to improve their skills and careers.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: The law in Poland slightly encourages non-EU families to reunite and to integrate in society.
- Education: Slightly unfavourable: Like most Central European countries with relatively small and new immigrant communities, education polices in Poland remain weak. Schools are not equipped to address intercultural education and the specific needs of immigrant children. However, Poland recently improved its policies on language support and teacher training to reflect diversity.
- Health: Slightly unfavourable: Immigrants have only limited access to healthcare and little targeted information about entitlements and health issues. Health services and policies have yet to address immigrant patients' specific access/health needs.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: A major area of weakness across Central Europe, immigrants are denied the opportunity to participate in public life in Poland, as foreign citizens have no right to vote, support or consultation by policymakers.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Applicants face more restrictive economic and language requirements since 2018, but permanent residents then receive a certain degree of security and equal access to social security and assistance.
- Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: Since 2012,Poland’s path to citizenship is 'halfway' favourable and 'average' compared to other EU/OECD countries, as immigrants in Poland must fulfill the residence, language and economic requirements in order to become dual nationals.
- Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Immigrant residents benefit from strong mechanisms to enforce the law and more equal protections in all areas of life. However, victims are not only confronted with a young law still weak in a few areas, they also receive less help in Poland than in most countries from its weak equality body and weak equality policies.