In 1994, 74 million foreigners entered Poland, including eight to nine million citizens of the former Soviet Union, many to request asylum, others for employment, and some to transit to the West. Poland receives 500 to 600 asylum applications every year.
Poland permits immigrants to enter for economic reasons as long as an individual can prove strong ties to the Polish community and the ability to contribute to Polish society. Those seeking employment in Poland receive work permits on the basis of employer guarantees.
In 1994, 14,000 work permits were issued to foreigners. However, under a new regulation that took effect in October, 1995, first-time work visas are issued only at Polish consular posts abroad.
The Polish Border Guards Commandant said on March 26 that Poland must have a more effective control of border traffic to prevent border crime. In April, 1996, 10 new watch-towers will be built and two to four helicopters will begin to patrol the border, including the Polish-Lithuania border where 20 airplanes reportedly illegally smuggle in people and goods.
The Border Guards report that border enforcement has already reduced illegal immigration. The Border Guards admit that the smugglers from the CIS and Asian countries are better organized and equipped than they are. About 12,000 illegal immigrants were stopped at the border in 1995.
"Poland to intensify border watch," Xinhua News Agency, March 27, 1996. "Border Guards to Tighten Controls," Polish News Bulletin, March 26, 1996. Dorota Pasich, "Regulating the Welcome's Warmth: Polish and Council of Europe's officials discuss asylum and immigration laws," The Warsaw Voice, November 19, 1995.