Ireland experienced a significant increase in the number of residence permits issued to non-nationals in 2022, making it one of the highest increases in the European Union. According to new data from Eurostat, a total of 85,793 permits were issued to non-EU citizens to come to Ireland, marking a 146% surge compared to the 34,935 permits issued in 2021. This figure represents the largest number of permits issued by Ireland since records began a decade ago.
The data further reveals that the most common reason for the permits was education, accounting for nearly half of all permits issued. Employment purposes accounted for a quarter of all permits. In terms of overall rankings among EU countries, Ireland placed seventh, surpassing countries like Sweden, Belgium, and Hungary.
Germany recorded the largest relative increase in the total number of first permits issued in 2022 compared to the previous year, with a 190% surge. This increase was primarily due to a higher number of permits issued for family and other reasons. Malta followed closely with a 164% increase, while Ireland experienced a 146% increase from 2021’s 34,935 permits to 85,793.
The EU as a whole witnessed a record high of over 3.6 million first residence permits issued to non-member countries, representing a 25.7% increase, or an additional 753,445 permits, compared to 2021. This increase was primarily driven by a higher number of first permits issued for family and education purposes, with permits for employment reasons also increasing by more than 18%.
Interestingly, Ireland and France were the only EU members where the most common reason for granting a residence permit was education-related. In Ireland, education-related permits accounted for 48.4% of all permits, while in France, they accounted for 32.3%. France emerged as the top choice for non-EU students seeking educational opportunities within the EU, with 104,777 first residence permits issued in 2022 for education-related reasons, representing 22.3% of all permits issued for education-related purposes in the EU. Germany and Spain followed France in terms of the number of permits issued for education-related reasons.
The Higher Education Authority reports a significant rise in the number of international students coming to Ireland to study in recent years. In the academic year 2020/21, there were more than 25,000 international students in Ireland, compared to just over 13,000 in the 2007/08 academic year. This indicates a substantial growth in the number of international students choosing Ireland as their educational destination.