Immigrants face as many obstacles as opportunities for social integration in Romania, which scores 49 on the 100-point MIPEX scale. Romania’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “equality on paper” only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Romania enjoy basic rights and halfway favourable long-term security, but do not have equal opportunities. Although policies are halfway favourable overall, major obstacles emerge for immigrants in political participation and access to nationality.
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. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
Romania’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as equals. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants not only as equals but also as neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
Romania’s integration policies are in line with those of other EU countries, but score above those of new EU countries (EU13, 41/100). Romania generally appears to adopt similar policies to Bulgaria, Hungary, and Moldova, although policies in those countries are slightly less favourable.
- Labour market mobility: halfway favourable: Access to the labour market is halfway favourable for non-EU newcomers. Newcomers to Romania can get basic information about jobs, services and recognition procedures, and non-EU and Romanian citizens alike enjoy the same access to education, training and social security. However, there is little general or targeted support for immigrants in the development of skills and job prospects.
- Family reunification: slightly favourable: Under Romania's slightly inclusive rules, residents eligible to settle long-term can reunite with traditional dependent family members. Most types of temporary resident can sponsor family immediately upon arrival. Families who qualify have a slightly secure status (e.g., permits for family members are as long and renewable as those of their sponsors).
- Education: halfway favourable: Education in Romania for immigrant pupils remains halfway favourable, although there are weak frameworks in place without explicit entitlements. For example, undocumented migrants face restricted access to the education system in Romania. All pupils in compulsory education are entitled to targeted support above-average for Central Europe, including standardised language assistance, trained teachers and ongoing guidance.
- Health: halfway favourable: The rather inclusive entitlements for asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants take into account integration and health concerns, although documentation and discretion may create some problems in practice. Migrants can access basic information on these entitlements through initiatives run by the Immigration Inspectorate (GII) and National Healthcare Insurance House (NHIH).
- Political participation: unfavourable: Ranked in the bottom 10, Romanian policies create major impediments to immigrants’ integration in terms of political participation. The lack of political rights for immigrants and support for immigrant leaders continues to prevent the political integration of immigrants. Additionally, immigrants are not structurally consulted in order to inform and improve the policies that affect them daily.
- Permanent residence: halfway favourable: Long-term residence in Romania guarantees non-EU citizens basic security and equal opportunities that can boost their integration outcomes in various areas of life. Refugees can apply to become permanent residents after 4 years, while nearly all other temporary residents can apply after 5 years (apart from seasonal workers and diplomatic and short-stay visa-holders). However, long-term residents still face obstacles such as vague language requirements.
- Access to nationality: slightly unfavourable: The usual waiting time to become a citizen of Romania is relatively average for Europe (5 years for spouses of RO citizens and 8 years for permanent residents, counting all years of legal stay). However, conditions to become a citizen are some of the most vague and discretionary in Europe. Romania has yet to follow international reform trends to open up birthright citizenship entitlements for immigrants’ Romanian-born children.
- Anti-discrimination: favourable: Anti-discrimination laws in Romania provide protection on all grounds (race/ethnicity, religion/belief and nationality) in all areas of life. Potential victims in Romania can bring a case for alternative dispute resolution, to civil courts or for administrative proceedings. Victims with claims of discrimination can receive help from the country’s strong but under-resourced equality body.