In 2020 COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted also the area of migration. It was felt especially in terms of border closures, travel restrictions and introducing sanitary measures. Since July 2020, the EMN together with the OECD has been publishing a series of Informs mapping the impact of pandemic on different areas of migration. The Umbrella Inform published at the end of April 2021 finalized this series.
The EMN OECD Umbrella Inform provides an update on the series of previous 5 Informs. It adds missing information as of 31 December 2020, summarises and analyses the key findings of the previous editions. It also identifies main challenges and lessons learned resulting from the measures adopted during the pandemic situation. The Inform covers the following areas of migration of the third country nationals: residence permits, entry conditions, unemployment and labour market needs (Chapter 1); international protection (Chapter 2); international students (Chapter 3); voluntary and forced return (Chapter 4). The final chapter presents important changes and innovations in the area of migration that are likely to be of particular focus in the coming years.
• The pandemic impacted the entry conditions and issuance of residence permits to third country nationals by the EU Member States. In person provision of services to foreigners was limited, but it was maintained using post and electronic communication as well as online systems.
• The states introduced automatic prolongation of residence permits so that the migrants already on their territory did not fall into irregular situations.
• To cover the labour market needs, continued admission of workers in essential sectors – especially in the sector of health, agriculture and transport was ensured.
• New tools and processes in asylum procedures introduced as a response to the pandemic have become a “new normal“.
• Although the physical presence on campuses was not discouraged in many Member States, the international students who entered the territory of a Member State before the pandemic and subsequently returned home, were often allowed to continue their studies online from abroad. Some EU Member States reported substantial decrease of international students by the end of 2020 compared to previous years.
• Travel restrictions impacted both the number of return decisions and their implementation. Return counselling and pre-departure services were often moved to online formats. Services related to Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programmes moved to online space.
The Umbrella Inform was prepared by the EMN and OECD in cooperation with the EASO (European Asylum Support Office) and Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency). The Inform is accompanied by a shorter Flash.