First-time asylum applicants in EU up 64 % in 2022

In 2022, 881 200 first-time asylum applicants (non-EU citizens) applied for international protection in EU countries, up by 64% compared with 2021 (537 400). After a considerable drop in 2020 (417 100), the numbers increased for two consecutive years but still have not reached the peaks registered in 2015 and 2016 (over 1 million applicants in both years) related to the war in Syria.

This information comes from data on asylum applicants published by Eurostat today. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

In 2022, the EU members granted 4 331 200 temporary protection statuses to non-EU citizens fleeing Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion. On 31 December 2022, 3 826 600 non-EU citizens benefitted from temporary protection in the EU. The difference between the two previous figures corresponds to the termination of the temporary protection status because former beneficiaries of temporary protection meanwhile left the country or obtained another status.

Data on temporary protection comes from Eurostat online database. More information focused on the analysis of monthly statistics is presented in the detailed Statistics Explained article.

Syrian, Afghan, Venezuelan and Turkish – main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants

Almost half (46 %) of the first-time asylum applicants in 2022 had Asian citizenship, while 22 % had African citizenship, 17 % had European citizenship (non-EU) and 14 % had North or South American citizenship.

Syria continues to be the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU since 2013. In 2022, Syrians lodged 131970 first-time applications (15 % of the total number of first-time applications in the EU).

Afghanistan was the second main country of citizenship for the fourth consecutive year (113495, or 13 % of the EU total).

Applicants from Venezuela and Türkiye each represented almost 6% of the EU total, with 50050 and 49720 applications, respectively. Colombia was the fifth main country of citizenship in 2022, totalling 42 420 applicants (5 % of the EU total).

One-quarter of EU asylum applications were made in Germany

With 217 735 first-time asylum applicants registered in 2022, Germany continued to be the EU country with the highest number of applicants, accounting for one-quarter of all first-time applicants in the EU (25%). It was followed by France (137 510, or 16%) and Spain (116 135, or 13%), ahead of Austria (106 380, or 12%) and Italy (77 200, or 9%). These five EU members together accounted for three-quarters (75%) of all first-time asylum applicants in the EU.

Highest number of first-time asylum applicants relative to the population in Cyprus

Compared with the population of each EU country, the highest number of registered first-time asylum applicants in 2022 was recorded in Cyprus (23 864 first-time applicants per million people), ahead of Austria (11 848) and Luxembourg (3 711).

In contrast, the lowest numbers were recorded in Hungary (5 first-time applicants per million people), followed by Slovakia (92) and Czechia (127).

In 2022, in the EU as a whole, there were 1 973 first-time asylum applicants per million people.

For more information:

Methodological notes:

  • Application for international protection means an application for international protection as defined in the Art. 2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU, i.e., including requests for refugee status or for subsidiary protection status, irrespective of whether the application was lodged on arrival at the border, or from inside the country, and irrespective of whether the person entered the territory legally (e.g. as a tourist) or illegally.
  • First-time asylum applicant/seeker means a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such an application as a family member, for the first time. Applications submitted by persons who are subsequently found to be a subject of a Dublin procedure are included in the statistics on first-time asylum applicants if such persons are also a subject of first asylum application. A person can be recorded as a first-time applicant only if he or she had never applied for international protection in the reporting country in the past, irrespective of the fact that he or she is found to have applied in another Member State of the European Union.
  • Temporary protection is a procedure provided only in the event of a mass influx or imminent mass influx of displaced persons from third countries who are unable to return to their country of origin. These people are granted immediate and temporary protection, in particular if there is also a risk that the asylum system will be unable to process the influx without adverse effects for its efficient operation, in the interests of the persons concerned and other persons requesting protection. Data presented in this article refer to the grants of temporary protection based on the Council Implementing Decision 2022/382 of 4 March 2022, establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion, and having the effect of introducing temporary protection.
  • The first part of the article, dedicated to trends at the EU level and temporary protection statistics, presents data rounded to the nearest 100. The following analysis, by citizenship and destination countries, shows the figures rounded to the nearest 5.