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Abolition of visas for Ukrainians: Polish employers worried

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By Olivier Bault.

Poland – Since Sunday, Ukrainian citizens no longer need visas for tourist stays in the EU, apart from the UK and Ireland.

A simple biometric passport (with 4 million issued at the moment) is enough to stay in the EU for a maximum of 90 days. “The abolition of European visas for Ukrainian citizens means that we have definitely bid farewell to the Soviet empire,” President Poroshenko said on Sunday.

In Poland, companies employing Ukrainians are concerned, however, about the risk of seeing them work on the black market in the West for higher pay. Estimations of the number of Ukrainians working in Poland vary. According to a report by the National Bank of Poland (NBP), about one million came in 2015, but most of them were employed in seasonal work, there were actually only half a million Ukrainian workers at a time.

Today, this number is probably higher and is generally estimated to be at least one million. In some regions, for companies that have seen the Polish workforce migrate to the west due to EU membership (also more than one million Poles left after 2004, in addition to the already emigrated one million), it would be difficult to continue functioning without Ukrainian workers who are generally regarded as skilled and with quality.

With Poland’s 26-year low unemployment rate and rising wages, and even with the return of Polish immigrants, many Polish firms may find it difficult to recruit without Ukrainian immigration. According to a Manpower report, about 41% of employers in Poland now have problems finding employees.