ATHENS — There are 514,734 non-EU nationals currently living in Greece with a valid residence permit, a figure reduced by 5.9 pct since the start of the year, according to information published in the Migration & Asylum Ministry's monthly data bulletin, released on Thursday.
This decrease is owed largely to the coronavirus pandemic's resrictions in the overall movement of people, said the ministry. It is not, however, the government's target to see these figures reduced, explained the minister, as Greece is harmonized with EU policy for the strengthening of legal migration: "It is a given that Europe needs population support for demographic reasons, but this must be done with rules and not by human traffickers," Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi stressed.
Of the four main types of residence permits – for employment, family reunification, studies and the 'other types' category – the ones issued most often belong to the fourth category, which includes Golden Visa investor's permits. But these permits are being issued less often these days, observed the minister: in 2020 only 8,087 Golden Visa permits were granted, compared to 17,462 in 2019.
Commenting on a meeting held on Wednesday by European Border & Coast Guard Agency Frontex on reports of illegal pushbacks, Mitarachi said that fresh discussion on rules of engagement will help better identify what EU states must do to protect land and maritime borders. Regarding the heart of the matter, the minister said Greece will investigate allegations of illegal deportations, as the Greek Coast Guard routinely does when there is credible evidence.
According to data released in the ministerial monthly newsletter, asylum seekers living at island hotspots were have reduced by nearly half over the last year: 18,872 as of October 31 2020, compared to 35,787 in October 2019 (a 47 pct decrease). Moreover, 82,646 decisions on asylum applications are pending in the first instance and 4,976 in the Board of Appeals (down by 38 pct compared to January 2020).