Number of non-EU migrants and expats reaches pre-pandemic levels
According to recent figures published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 2021 saw immigration levels rise to pre-pandemic levels, with CBS noting a significant increase in the number of refugees and expats arriving from outside of the European Union.
Over 200.000 people relocated to the Netherlands in 2021
The number of people choosing to immigrate to the Netherlands has been steadily rising since the early 2000s, peaking in 2019 before taking a hit following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. While the Dutch government continued to impose various coronavirus restrictions throughout 2021, it seems as though these were not enough to deter people from relocating to the Netherlands.
In total, 208.000 people without Dutch citizenship moved to the Netherlands in 2021, marking an increase of around 37.000 compared with the previous year. Over 90.000 of these new arrivals had relocated from a non-EU or EFTA country - almost 30.000 more than in 2020.
Significant increase in number of refugees and highly skilled migrants
CBS states that this increase can partly be attributed to the ongoing unrest in Syria and Afghanistan, which resulted in the number of asylum seekers rising by 75 percent between 2020 and 2021. In addition to the number of refugees, CBS also observed a 60 percent increase in the number of highly skilled migrants, specifically from India, China and Turkey.
The number of non-EU or EFTA immigrants who moved to the Netherlands for family or to enrol in higher education also increased, albeit at a significantly lower rate. Interestingly, CBS found that those relocating from outside of Europe were more likely to stay in the Netherlands long-term, whereas the majority of EU / EFTA citizens chose to leave within 10 years.
Preliminary figures for the first few months of this year suggest that immigration in the Netherlands remains high, largely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. Between the beginning of March and the end of May, around 67.000 Ukrainian refugees registered in a Dutch municipality.