Immigrants in Ukraine face as many obstacles as opportunities for integration. Ukraine scores 48 on the 100-point MIPEX scale, which is comparable to international MIPEX average (49). Ukraine’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as ‘equality on paper’ only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Ukraine enjoy basic rights and long-term security, but they do not enjoy equal opportunities. Ukraine differs considerably in the degree of development of its policies in the different integration areas. While immigrants should be able to settle long-term and be protected from discrimination, immigrants enjoy far less support for equal opportunities in Ukraine than in most MIPEX countries. In particular, immigrants and their children face major obstacles to education, political participation and citizenship.
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. Ukraine’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants not as their neighbours, but instead as strangers. 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 contacts and positive experiences with immigrants. Ukraine is one of the least accepting countries for immigrants, a recent Gallup survey shows.
Ukraine’s integration policies are similar to the average European country. Compared to other countries in the region, Ukraine appears to adopt similar policies to Moldova and Romania, while Ukraine’s integration policies are more inclusive than in neighbouring Poland, Russia and Slovakia.
- Labour market mobility: Halfway favourable: Foreign citizens can find jobs and start businesses, but without targeted support or the same general support and benefits that Ukrainian citizens can use improve their skills and careers.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Although separated families that want to reunite do not face the same major legal requirements as in other European countries, they can be rejected under vague grounds and procedural obstacles. Once reunited, family members are kept dependent on their sponsor as they have no right to an autonomous residence permit.
- Education: Unfavourable: The educational support for immigrant pupils is weaker in Ukraine than in most other MIPEX countries. Only the children of legal immigrants can access compulsory education. Furthermore, schools are not prepared to provide for an intercultural education and for the specific needs of immigrant children.
- Health: Slightly unfavourable: Immigrants receive limited access to healthcare and no targeted information about entitlements and health issues. Health services and policies have yet to address these specific access and health needs of immigrant patients.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: A major area of weakness across Central and Eastern Europe, immigrants are denied the opportunity to participate in public life in Ukraine, as foreign citizens have no right to vote, be member of political party and receive support. Organisations led by immigrants participate can only participate in ad-hoc events and consultative bodies.
- Permanent residence: Favourable: Foreign citizens with immigration permits can settle long-term and enjoy a secure status with equal access to social security and assistance.
- Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: While the path to Ukrainian citizenship is relatively straightforward, Ukraine has yet to open up to international reform trends towards dual nationality for all naturalising adults and citizenship entitlements for their children.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: Potential victims of ethnic, racial, religious or nationality discrimination should be able to seek justice under Ukraine’s anti-discrimination laws and strong enforcement mechanisms.