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Asylum-seeker children in a refugee camp, Hungary
© UNHCR, 2006



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Roma family in Budapest, 2004
© Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.



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© Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.



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Detention Camps in Europe, 2005



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© Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.


MIGRATORY MOVEMENTS IN HUNGARY


Migration History and Trends

Following the 1989 transition, Hungary experienced increasing rates of transit migration; this “corridor” role may explain why it maintains a passive policy of migrant integration.  Accession to the European Union has not brought dramatic changes in the migration trends of the country; the number of immigrants in Hungary has remained low, approximately 1.5-2% of the population.
Before the eastward enlargement of the European Union numerous surveys were investigating the rate and strata of mobile communities in acceding countries. Although all of comparative researches forecast a low migration potential, the temporary restrictions of movement were inserted into the Accession Treaty.

(...)
The Hungarian labour force has not been mobile in a great extent and no significant changes are probable even in case of liberalisation policy in EU15. In parallel, inflow of labour and study migrants from third, adjacent countries to Hungary is going on. Perhaps intensity, legality and structure of inflow and outflow labour migratory movement will be more altered in near future. Hungary as a part of periphery of the centre and transitory position of migratory movements is the place of “chain-migration”: we are sending highly or medium-skilled workers and are receiving semi-skilled or unskilled labourers.
According to the Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN), 80-90 % of immigrants residing in Hungary are European, primarily ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia; 10-15 % of immigrants are from Asia. Immigration to Hungary is primarily a demand-driven, sub-regional labour migration, often based on seasonal or temporary employment. Immigrants in Hungary tend to have higher education levels than the native population and a larger proportion of them are in the active age range for employment, although there is also an increasing trend of family reunification with elderly parents who arrive in Hungary for retirement.
The status of ethnic Hungarians living in countries adjacent to Hungary has been a subject of debate.  Hungary’s governments between 1990 and 2002 maintained that they aim to encourage ethnic Hungarians to remain in the lands of their birth.  There is not an active repatriation program of co-ethnics akin to that of Germany. The Hungarian immigration and naturalisation system has often been criticised for being indifferent toward ethnic Hungarians, despite certain benefits for ethnic Hungarians and persons of Hungarian ancestry in the immigration and naturalisation process.  
The most topical issue has been the demographic deficit and its implications for increased immigration. Hungary is an aging society, with negative natural population growth. Recommendations from a group of scholars suggested that some immigration should be encouraged and facilitated to meet labour market needs.  (...).

Summing up, the immigration in contemporary Hungary can be characterised with the following:
- The number and proportion of immigrants is low, 1.5 – 2 percent of the population.
- Immigrants mostly come from the neighbouring states and most of them are of ethnic Hungarian.
- The rate of asylum seekers among immigrants is very limited and has been decreasing since late 1990s.
- Immigration is mainly a demand-driven, sub-regional labour migration, often based on seasonal or temporary employment.
- Regarding the social and demographic composition of residing immigrants they have a better economic position than the native population due to their higher rate in active age and being better educated which means a proper position in the labour market.
- Due to socio-cultural composition integration policy or services have not been developed. Absorbing capacity or attractive power of the country toward the necessary, best, qualified or the most motivated migrants has been limited that would contribute to the supposed “corridor role” of Hungary in migratory movements.
- Irregular and illegal migration basically involves either transiting through the country or engagement in seasonal or temporary employment, settling permanently is not typical.
- The   channel of family unification, employment and study becomes more important among visa and residence permit applicants.

Judit Maria Tóth, 2007

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