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60 000 Foreigners Live in Bulgaria as Legal Aliens

Date: 14.12.2009

About 60 000 people reside in Bulgaria permanently as legal immigrants, said Iliyana Derilova, Head of the Bulgarian Mission of the International Migration Organization reports.

Derilova added that most immigrants are from Turkey, Russia, the Ukraine, Macedonia and China, adding that after the EU accession, Bulgaria had become more attractive for people from third world countries, and the trend is ongoing.

Bulgaria has two immigration centers – in the capital Sofia and the Black Sea city of Burgas. They assist aliens with information about the legal and administrative system, their rights and responsibilities in Bulgaria, and access to various services.

According to Derilova, immigrants most often inquire about ways to become legal residents or permanent residents, how to bring their families to the country, and how to find a job.

The International Migration Organization plans to open two more such centers – in Plovdiv and Kardzhali to be financed by the EU Cohesion Fund.

In the meantime, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, published Wednesday, on occasion of the Human Rights Day, official statistics about the number of granted protection for asylum seekers.

In 2008, the EU Member States granted protection to 76 300 asylum seekers. The largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status were citizens of Iraq (16 600 persons or 22 % of the total number of persons granted protection status), Somalia (9 500 or 12 %), Russia (7 400 or 10 %), Afghanistan (5 000 or 7 %) and Eritrea (4 600 or 6 %).

Two thirds of all grants of protection status in the EU were registered in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden

The rate of recognition varies considerably among Member States. The highest rates in the first instance were recorded in Poland (65 %), Lithuania and Portugal (both 64 %), Austria (62 %) and Denmark (58 %), and the lowest in Greece (less than 1 %), Slovenia (3 %), Spain (5 %), the Czech Republic, France and Romania (all 16 %). The highest rates of recognition for final decisions were registered in Finland (87 %), the Netherlands (52 %) and Sweden (49 %).

Bulgaria ranks in the middle with a 44 % rate of recognition on first instance and 33 % on appeal. The country received 700 asylum applications in 2008 with 305 approved on first instance and 10 on appeal.

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