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REVEALED: How many non-EU citizens are ordered to leave European countries?

More than 422,000 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave European countries in 2022, new figures reveal but which states are the most prolific in forcing third-country nationals out? And where are they from?

REVEALED: How many non-EU citizens are ordered to leave European countries?
The EU flag (R) and flags of other nations are pictured at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on December 14, 2022. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP)

More than 422,000 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave EU / EFTA (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) countries in 2022, an increase by almost a quarter compared to 2021, when the number was around 342,000, according to the data published on March 31st by the EU statistical office Eurostat.

Among EU member states, France handed out the largest number of orders to leave (135,640), followed by Croatia (40,550) and Greece (33,600). These three countries together accounted for almost half of third-country nationals ordered to leave the EU in 2022.

They were followed by Germany (32,860), Italy (28,185) and Austria (26,355). As regards the other countries covered by The Local, Sweden ordered some 14,885 non-EU citizens to leave, Spain 10,805, Switzerland 5,530, Norway 3,560 and Denmark 2,450.

The largest increase in the number of orders to leave given to non-EU citizens between 2021 and 2022 was recorded by Italy (+154%), Austria (+130%) and Spain (+138%). In Norway the number of people ordered to leave fell almost by half, from 7,130 in 2021.

Returned to another country

France also reported the largest number of non-EU citizens actually returned to another country, including other EU countries, following an order to leave. French authorities returned some 14,235 non-EU nationals in 2022 compared to 11,630 in 2021, followed by Germany (13,135) and Sweden (10,490).

The number for all of the EU / EFTA was 95,575 in 2022 compared to 80,455 in 2021, which represented an increase of 18 percent.

The difference between the number of people ordered to leave and the number of persons returned, which can be significant and vary between countries, is explained by possible appeals to the decision, the eventual receipt of a residence permit or even the individuals fleeing from authorities, Eurostat says in its explanatory notes.

As regards the other countries covered by The Local, Denmark returned 1,450 non-EU citizens to other countries in 2022,  Austria 6,040, Spain 4,515, Italy 2,915, Norway 2,250 and Switzerland 2,000.

In the last three months of 2022, Afghans topped the list of non-EU citizens who were ordered to leave EU countries accounting for 11 percent of all non-EU citizens? They were followed by Moroccans (8%) and Algerians (7%). On the other hand, Syrians represented the largest proportion of non-EU citizens actually returned to another country (11%) followed by Georgians (9%) and Albanians (9%).

For France, more than a third of leave orders (35%) were issues to Algerian (27,295), Moroccan (10,490) and Tunisian (10,265) citizens. Among the 14,235 people returned by France, the largest groups were from Albania (2,365), Algeria (2,360), Georgia (1,180) Tunisia and Morocco (1,065 each).

UK citizens post-Brexit

Some 1,270 UK citizens were ordered to leave EU and EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) in 2022, 5% fewer than in 2021. In total, 2,610 British nationals were ordered to leave European countries since Brexit, including 1,100 in Sweden alone.

Sweden remains the toughest country towards UK nationals, with 385 leave orders issued in 2022  although these almost halved compared to the 715 issued in 2021.

Based on these statistics it is not possible to know exactly why Brits were ordered to leave EU countries but Brexit forced many of them to have to apply for new residency status by certain deadlines. Certain countries, like Sweden applied those deadlines stricter than others.

The other country with a relatively high number of leave orders to UK citizens is Norway, although the number of British citizens ordered to depart declined from 375 in 2021 to 130 in 2022.

Similarly, Switzerland ordered 35 UK citizens to leave last year, compared to 95 in 2021.

The number of leave orders to British nationals however increased in Denmark (from 15 in 2021 to 40 in 2022), Germany (from 10 to 30), France (from 40 to 75), while it remained the same for Austria (5). Italy and Spain did not report any leave order to UK citizens.

The Local reported recently how Denmark had relaxed its threat to deport Brits and instead extended the deadline for them to apply for post-Brexit residency.

Sweden and Norway also continue to top the list of European countries for the return of UK citizens, although the numbers declined compared to 2021. Sweden returned 280 UK citizens in 2022, compared to 520 in 2021, and Norway 90 and 305 respectively.

US citizens

The number of US citizens ordered to leave EU countries slightly increased in 2022 reaching 1,720 compared to 1,690 in 2021. The majority was reported in the Netherlands (1,060 and 980 respectively).

As regards the countries covered by The Local, Sweden ordered 170 US citizens to depart in 2022 compared to 240 in 2021; Norway 135 compared to 795 the previous year; France 100 which was the same as 2021 Germany 35 compared to 60 in 2021; Denmark and Italy 25 compared to 15 and 5 in 2021 respectively; Spain 10, just as in 2021 and Austria 10 compared to 15 in 2021.

Only 450 US citizens were returned to another country, and 10 from Norway, with the Netherlands accounting for only 65, Sweden 95, Norway 70, Austria 90, France 20, Denmark and Germany 15, Spain 10 and Italy and Switzerland zero.

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Man charged with forcing 11 people from India into labour in Sweden

The trial of a man who allegedly lured 11 people from India to Sweden on the false promise of work, only to exploit them and force them into labour, is under way.

Man charged with forcing 11 people from India into labour in Sweden

The man is accused of having promised 10 men and one woman from Punjab that he would get them full-time jobs with a monthly salary of around 23,000 kronor in Sweden, if they first paid him 200,000-230,000 kronor, according to charges seen by The Local.

He told them that the fee would cover the cost of work permits and other documents and permits, even though the actual cost was only a fraction of the total sum he demanded.

Once they arrived in Sweden, however, there were no full-time jobs for them. Instead they were allegedly forced to work for the man under poor conditions.

They were completely at his mercy. He controlled where they worked, for whom and to what extent. They risked not having accommodation if they refused. They were dependent on his good will to keep their work and residence permits,” the prosecutor, Anneli Tirud Wallin, told Swedish news agency TT.

According to the charge sheet the plaintiffs were trafficked to Sweden and Portugal and forced to work in the forestry, construction and restaurant industries.

Peter Ataseven, a lawyer representing the 11 plaintiffs, told TT they had paid the man with money they did not have, believing that they would earn it back in Sweden.

They took out loans, liquidated business opportunities, had to sell land and pawn [their possessions], all just to come to Sweden,” said Ataseven.

The accused is also from Punjab but has been a Swedish citizen for years and lives in Södertälje, where most of the forced labour is said to have taken place. He denies the charges.

The trial is set to take place over 20 days between May 23rd and July 4th.