Bratislava, 4 May 2021 – Foreigners arriving in Slovakia most often need help with the first steps in obtaining a residence permit and are looking for ways to orientate themselves in the complex administrative procedures and legislation. This follows from data of the IOM Migration Information Centre (MIC), which was opened by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Slovakia in April 2006.
MIC is the only information centre for foreigners in Slovakia, which provides migrants from countries outside the European Union with free legal, social and employment counselling, support for further education and integration into the labour market. The centre also organizes Slovak language courses for them and supports the life of foreign communities in Slovakia.
"If any of us decides to live in a new country, we want to find accommodation and a job. It will be very helpful if we can speak a language, have accurate information about residence, family reunification, employment and health care, how and where to get various documents and permits, and which authorities to contact. Foreigners in Slovakia are in the same situation. Our centre responds to their most frequent enquires in order to manage their new lives in Slovakia as easily as possible. Their successful integration is also beneficial for the Slovak society," explains Zuzana Vatráľová, Head of the IOM Office in Slovakia.
Slovakia is a destination country for an increasing number of foreigners. In 2006, when the IOM opened the centre, there were 32,153 foreigners living in the Slovak Republic; as of 31 December 2020, according to the statistics of the Border and Foreign Police Bureau, there were 150,000 in Slovakia, which represents a fivefold increase and a 2.75 per cent share in the total population of the Slovak Republic.
"With the growing number of foreigners in Slovakia, the number of beneficiaries and consultations has been increasing every year since the centre opened 15 years ago. In 2020, 8,237 people used the centre's comprehensive consultancy services alone, which is 2,000 more than in 2019,” says Zuzana Vatráľová.
The courses of the Slovak language, and courses in cultural and social orientation are among the most requested and highly demand MIC‘s services, and over 13,000 people have already completed them. The results of the IOM MIC from April 2006 to March 2021 are available on the IOM website.
"The clients of our centre especially appreciate the fact that in one place they receive useful counselling and other services needed for the lives of foreigners in Slovakia. They also appreciate the comprehensibility and usefulness of the information in several languages, prompt responses, proficiency and helpfulness of the centre's counsellors," describes Zuzana Vatráľová.
According to the experience of the IOM MIC, the current Covid-19 pandemic has an adverse effect not only on domestic residents, but also on foreigners living in the Slovak Republic.
"Many of them had their residence permits expired during an emergency situation, some of them lost their jobs and could not return home due to travel restrictions. All this and many other situations needed to be resolved immediately. We strengthened the MIC IOM information line for clients 0850 211 478, the number of email consultations increased and in the first quarter of 2021 the number of visitors to the website www.mic.iom.sk doubled to 71,000 per month. We have transferred the teaching of the Slovak language to the online format, for those interested we organize information webinars and create useful video tutorials, “adds Zuzana Vatráľová.
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Results of the IOM Migration Information Centre from April 2006 to March 2021: https://iom.sk/en/activities/migrant-integration/iom-statistics-on-the-integration-of-foreigners.html
Free counselling and services of the IOM Migration Information Centre Services for Non-EU Nationals: https://iom.sk/en/activities/migrant-integration/iom-migration-information-centre.htmlhttps://iom.sk/en/activities/migrant-integration/iom-migration-information-centre.html
Results of IOM Slovakia: https://iom.sk/en/iom/iom-results-in-numbers.html
International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an international inter-governmental organization established in 1951 with the aim of helping displaced persons, refugees and migrants in Europe. In 2016 IOM joined the UN system as the UN migration agency. At present IOM activities cover a wide range of migration issues in more than 150 countries in the world. As the leading international organization in the field of migration IOM works closely with governments and migrants and it is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. For more information visit www.iom.int.
IOM has been active in Slovakia since 1996. IOM Bratislava implements activities in the field of migrant integration, assisted voluntary returns to migrants’ countries of origin and assistance upon their return, fight against the trafficking in human beings, coordination of the activities of the European Migration Network, and humanitarian transfer of refugees. As part of these and other areas IOM carries out different activities – providing services to migrants, conducting research, raising awareness about migration and migrant integration through information campaigns, implementing educational and capacity-building activities for key stakeholders. For more information visit www.iom.sk/en.
IOM priority in all of its programs is providing direct assistance to migrants.
Support of the activities of the IOM Migration Information Centre:
Migration Information Centre to Support Integration of Migrants in Slovakia (Phase X, Individual Project). This project is co-funded by the European Union from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Home Affairs Funds.