Legal migration to the EU

Written by Katrien Luyten,

Point of view of a person legs standing in front of EU Flag painted on city asphalt street ground.Entering the EU as a non-European is not too difficult for people from stable countries. Those planning to visit one or more EU Member States can get in as a tourist, with or without a visa. If the intention is to live and work for a longer period, they can use the many possibilities offered by labour migration. Regular mobility schemes also include provisions for other categories such as students, researchers, au pairs and voluntary workers. People wishing to join a family member who is already residing legally in the EU might even be eligible for family reunification. However, for people coming from countries at war or where democracy is in serious peril, or who happen to live in a non-EU country after fleeing their own country, or who are simply looking for a better life, the options are more limited. Moreover, even when options exist, gaining access to them is not always possible for people who find themselves in precarious, dangerous or even life-threatening situations.

In 2015, a record number of people tried to reach Europe by all means, often risking their lives along their journeys. Although the number of irregular arrivals in the EU is back to pre-crisis levels, immigration remains one of the key concerns of European citizens and is expected to remain a challenge for years to come.

Visit the European Parliament homepage on migration in Europe.

In order to address this challenge, the EU has embarked on a process of reform aimed at rebuilding its common asylum policies on fairer and more solid ground, strengthening its external borders by reinforcing the links between border controls and security, and renewing cooperation with third countries on migration issues. A forward-looking and comprehensive European immigration policy, based on solidarity and respect for European values, requires a balanced approach to dealing with both irregular and legal migration. The EU is committed to help create more, safe and controlled channels to migration both to help people in need of protection and to address labour market needs and skills shortages adequately.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Legal migration to the EU‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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