According to Wikipedia

In 2016, around 7.14% (15.885.300 people) of total EU employment were not citizens, 3.61% (8.143.800) were from another EU Member State, 3.53% (7.741.500) were from a non-EU country. Switzerland 0.53%, France 0.65%, Spain 0.88%, Italy 1.08%, United Kingdom 1.46%, Germany 1.81% (until 1990 former territory of the FRG) were countries where more than 0.5% of employees were not citizens. United Kingdom 0.91%, Germany 0.94% (until 1990 former territory of the FRG) are countries where more than 0.9% of employees were from non-EU countries. countries with more than 0.5% employees were from another EU country were Spain 0.54%, United Kingdom 0.55%, Italy 0.72%, Germany (until 1990 former territory of the FRG) 0.87%.

But Wikipedia doesn't break down where these workers were from (e.g. Middle East, non-EU Europe, former colonies etc.) Are there there some charts/breakdowns on the citizenship of the non-EU foreign workers working in the EU? Also, are there stats on their length of stay (e.g. average/median or even max)?

  • I think you will find quite different breakdowns between the various EU countries, to the point where an overall figure is useless.
    – o.m.
    Aug 9, 2018 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


It looks like most new work permits were held by Ukrainians in 2016 (the last year I could find stats for). It's not easy to figure out any more detailed stats because Eurostat only gives a breakdown by country of origin for the total number of new permits (regardless of reason for the permit). But for Ukraine, it's somewhat easy because it leads on total number and on the ratio of work to other permits. More precisely, in 2016 there were 589K new permits to Ukrainians, and 82.7% were for work, so that gives about 487K new work permits issued to Ukrainians... but these were not all granted in 2016; the increase between 2015 and 2016 in the total number of new permits for Ukrainians was only 89K... yeah Eurostat data is really confusing on this. For re-issued permits... I don't know at all.

Actually, they do have breakdown (but only in a table, not in text):

enter image description here

That confirms my calculation for Ukraine. And we also find out that most of these Ukrainians (95% of them) went to work in Poland.

Also, second place for work permits went to India... wth 57K work permits, and the majority of these (53%) went to work in the UK... with rest much more thinly spread; Germany was the second destination for these Indians, but only took 8% of them.

Third place goes to the U.S. with nearly as many permits as for India, and a similar spread: 62% in the UK, followed by 10% who went to Germany.

4th place is for China, with 20K, but these had no clear concentration: 23% UK, 14.6% Germany etc.

5th place is Australia with 16K, who mostly (84%) went to the UK.

Very, very partial answer. I found stats for the origin of Blue Card holders for one year (2015). These are very probably not representative for other national-level schemes because they are seriously biased by Germany having issued most of these Blue Cards (for high-skilled workers), while in national-level schemes Poland and the UK both outweigh Germany; in 2015 there were 541,583 first-residence permits issued for work reasons in Poland vs 194,813 such permits in Germany, whereas for Blue Cards in the same year Poland issued 369 vs Germany's 14,620. Also the UK issued 633,017 such national-level permits in 2015, but doesn't even take part in the Blue Card scheme. With that big disclaimer, here is breakdown:

enter image description here

So most (40%) were granted to applicants from Asia (excluding the middle East), then come non-EU European countries from the South-East (25%), followed by the Middle-East (incl. Turkey and North-Africa) with 18% and then the Americas (14%): 8% South, 6% North. Tailing were Sub-saharan africa with 2% and Oceania with 1%.

  • Note that any statistics using “foreign nationals” as the denominator will suffer from a massive selection bias: Citizenship is harder to attain in some countries than others.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 9, 2018 at 22:32

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