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How many foreigners lived in Ukraine before the war and what is the current migration situation?

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How many foreigners lived in Ukraine before the war and what is the current migration situation?

Migration processes in Ukraine have significantly escalated since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, in particular due to the outflow of citizens. However, foreigners continue to emigrate to the country. Find out how the flow of migrants has changed since the beginning of the war and why Ukraine remains attractive for immigration even during the war

Legal assistance on entry and stay in Ukraine
Legal assistance on entry and stay in Ukraine
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The intensity of the migration processes currently taking place in Ukraine can only be compared to those that took place during the Second World War. Thus, a record number of Ukrainian citizens were forced to leave the country, in particular due to active hostilities and threats from russia. However, at the same time, the flow of foreign migrants has decreased, and foreigners continue to immigrate to Ukraine even during the war.


How many foreigners lived in Ukraine before the war?


According to the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMS), as of December 31, 2021, 303 thousand people were registered as immigrants. At the same time, the IOM cites slightly lower figures - 293 thousand foreigners who permanently resided in Ukraine.


The majority of immigrants (83% as of 2020) were family members of Ukrainian citizens, as well as immigrants from Ukraine and their descendants. At the same time, some foreigners resided in Ukraine temporarily due to studying at Ukrainian universities. For example, in 2019, 80 thousand foreigners were studying in Ukraine, but after the COVID-19 pandemic began, their number tended to decrease.


In addition, according to the State Migration Service, as of December 31, 2021, there were 1,326 refugees from other countries and 928 people in need of additional protection in Ukraine. Another 1,198 people were waiting to receive the appropriate status after submitting an application. Refugees and asylum seekers came from 60 different countries.


Among all foreigners in Ukraine, the largest number were citizens of former CIS countries: Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. They were also citizens of visa countries, namely Turkey, India, and China. According to the State Employment Service, as of 2020, most work permits were issued to Turkish nationals.


In addition, at the end of 2019, there were between 37.7 thousand and 60.9 thousand migrants with an irregular status in Ukraine, i.e. people who entered and stayed in Ukraine without legal grounds or with violations. As well as up to 35 thousand stateless persons.




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How many foreigners are currently living in Ukraine?


According to the Head of the Central Interregional Department of the State Migration Service in Kyiv and Kyiv Region, as of July 2023, almost half a million foreigners have permanent or temporary residence permits. At the same time, more than 150 thousand foreign citizens are registered in Kyiv and Kyiv region. However, compared to pre-war trends, there has been a 2-3-fold decrease in the number of foreigners and stateless persons documented with residence permits in Ukraine. 

At the same time, the flow and number of illegal migrants in Ukraine has also decreased by almost ten times.


The reasons why foreigners migrate to Ukraine remain largely similar to pre-war trends. The most common reasons are family reunification and employment. However, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, several other categories of people have emerged and their numbers have rapidly increased in Ukraine, including people who come to volunteer or work in public non-governmental organizations. 


Another important category is foreign businessmen who continue to do business in Ukraine and, despite the risks, see many prospects and attractive factors for investing in Ukrainian infrastructure and industry.


At the same time, as Ukraine has been granted candidate status in the EU and has begun direct negotiations on accession conditions, the number of migrants from the Global South trying to find a way to enter remains high.


At the same time, experts believe that a significant influx of migrants should be expected after the end of hostilities in Ukraine, in particular at the stage of rebuilding the country. And the government's task in this regard will be to regulate the legal framework and create a favorable environment to encourage foreign citizens to migrate legally.


Entering Ukraine during the war: recommendations from Visit Ukraine


When planning a trip to Ukraine, first of all, you need to take care of the appropriate insurance policy, because any foreign insurance automatically terminates after crossing the Ukrainian border. In this case, we recommend that you take out insurance specifically covering military risks, which will cover not only standard medical care/treatment/diagnosis, etc. but also accidents and injuries caused by passive or direct military risks.


You can take out such insurance on the Visit Ukraine website. Follow the link and choose an insurance policy with the appropriate coverage and indemnity amount for the required period.


If you need assistance from a specialist in entering and staying in Ukraine, or obtaining a visa, residence permit or other documents, please contact our lawyers specializing in migration law for advice. You can order a one-time consultation or full legal support from a lawyer by following the link.


We remind you! Despite the war, the number of foreigners entering Ukraine is increasing. Read how many foreign citizens visited the country in 2023, for what purpose they came and from which countries in our previous article.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




We recommend purchasing it for a safe and comfortable trip to Ukraine: 


Visit Ukraine Insurance – safe travel in Ukraine (insurance covering military risks);

Visit Ukraine Legal advice – comprehensive legal support on entry to Ukraine;
Visit Ukraine Tickets – bus and train tickets to/from Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Tours – the largest online database of tours to Ukraine for every taste;

Visit Ukraine Hotels – hotels for a comfortable stay in Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Merch – patriotic clothing and accessories with worldwide delivery.




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