Greece’s Long-Term Resident Migrants Face Residency Permit Woes

FILE- On this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 photo, an Afghan child stands next her family's belongings after disembarking from a ferry with other refugees and migrants at the port of Piraeus.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – As the New Democracy government tries to deal with more than 96,000 refugees and migrants – most seeking asylum – the country’s migrant population of 550,822 who’ve been residents for more than 15 years will have to apply for new residency permits in a process that may be prohibitive for many.

The Greek Forum for Migrants said the migrants, who have some form of residency permits that are expiring, now will have to seek a three-year paper with limited rights, or five-year residency recognized by the European Union.

But the center said that the process is both costly and unnecessarily lengthy, often resulting in papers being expired for several months before new ones are issued and the migrants will have to show they had proof of residence in the country for seven consecutive years.

The majority come from five countries: Albania (357,472), Georgia (22,869), Pakistan (19,009), Ukraine (18,328) and Russia (14,878). Of them, 50 percent are officially registered at the Ministry of the Interior and have a 10-year residence permit, which, however, has been abolished, noted Kathimerini.

According to the latest data, some 230,000 migrants have three-year permits and just 28,248 have the five-year permit that allows them to work in another EU member state and grants them equal rights as EU citizens.

“What (authorities) fail to understand is what it means for migrants to be in a state of limbo, waiting to ‘enjoy their rights.’ We have become accustomed to living ‘half a life’ and that is a problem that does not just concern us, but Greek society as a whole,” the director of the forum’s Greek office, Adla Shashati, told reporters on International Migrants Day.

According to the forum, 99,400 of the immigrants who are officially registered are minors and 150,000 of the total are 50 years old or above.

“We continue to deal with problems in almost every issue concerning second-generation migrants,” said Shashati. “Here, too, there is an absence of strategy and planning for the social assimilation and inclusion of children who came to the country at a very young age,” he also added.