Non-EU immigrants who have access to legal status in Slovenia experience halfway favourable integration policies, typical of the average MIPEX country. Like the average MIPEX country (50), Slovenia scores 48/100. However, major obstacles due to unfavourable policies emerge in nearly all areas of integration, with the exception of family reunion, permanent residence and anti-discrimination.
Slovenia’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “equality on paper” only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries immigrants in Slovenia enjoy basic rights and long-term security, but do not enjoy equal opportunities. Slovenia differs considerably in the degree of development of its policies in different integration areas. Immigrants to the country should be able to settle and reunite with relatives, become permanent residents and be protected from discrimination. However, major obstacles due to unfavourable policies emerge in other areas of integration.
Slovenia’s current approach affects public attitudes towards immigrants by encouraging the public to see immigrants as equals and potential citizens, but not as their neighbours. Instead they are viewed as strangers. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
Policies that treat immigrants as strangers 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 instances of contact and positive experiences with immigrants.
Slovenia’s integration policies are similar to those of the average European country. Compared to other countries in the region, Slovenia appears to adopt similar policies to Austria and Hungary, while its integration policies are more inclusive than in neighbouring Croatia.
- Labour market mobility: slightly unfavourable: Slovenia ranks in the bottom 10. Policies are slightly unfavourable for labour migrants and their families, with non-EU workers facing obstacles and weak targeted measures to access the labour market. Non-EU newcomers are limited in accessing or changing jobs, with equal access to non-regulated private jobs only granted to certain categories. Many temporary non-EU residents cannot equally access several measures used by national and EU citizens to improve their jobs and skills.
- Family reunification: slightly favourable: Slovenia ranks in the top 10, thanks to its respect for family life in law and in practice. Most sponsors with a regular basic income can easily reunite with their family. Even with slightly favourable family reunion policies, transnational families in Slovenia still face a somewhat insecure status due to the discretionary process.
- Education: slightly unfavourable: All migrant pupils have the basic right and support to access compulsory school in Slovenia. Migrant families and schools continue to receive little support to further promote social integration of migrant pupils, which remains a weakness in Slovenia.
- Health: slightly unfavourable: Another deterrent of the social integration of migrants in Slovenia, migrants still struggle to fully access the healthcare system. Health services are only made accessible and responsive to newcomer patients through provision of information on their legal entitlements.
- Political participation: slightly unfavourable: All long-term permanent residents have the right to vote in local elections since 2002, which makes Slovenia a leader in Central Europe on this issue. However, non-EU citizens are not allowed to be members of political parties (aside from being honorary members), and they cannot yet stand as candidates in elections. Additionally, immigrants' associations and leaders are only formally consulted (since 2015).
- Permanent residence: slightly favourable: Slovenia ranks in the top 10. After 5 years in Slovenia, most non-EU immigrants are able to benefit from the security of permanent residence and more equal opportunities to participate and invest in their integration, leaving them with relatively secure status. Once eligible, immigrants must prove they meet the basic minimum regular income level.
- Access to nationality: slightly unfavourable: Slovenia ranks in the bottom 5. Slovenia provides ordinary immigrants with a long path to citizenship and without dual nationality, unlike the more established and reforming countries of immigration. Ordinary immigrants in Slovenia must wait through one of the longest and least flexible residence requirements in Europe (10 years). Some applicants get access to enough free courses and study guides to attain reasonable A2-level fluency of the language, with exemptions for the Slovene-educated and vulnerable groups. Still, the income and criminal record requirements can be rather demanding.
- Anti-discrimination: favourable: Slovenia’s favourable laws cover most forms of racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination, going beyond the minimums in EU law. In 2016, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted a Protection Against Discrimination Act (PADA) which established the Advocate of the Principle of Equality, an independent and autonomous state body mandated to deal with discrimination. The New Protection Against Discrimination Act adopted in 2016 strengthened enforcement mechanisms by enhancing access to procedures, introducing the shift of burden of proof and several sanctions.