From: Alice Taylor
MIPEX: Albanian Immigration Policies Encourage Public to See Immigrants as Unequal

Albania’s approach to integration is classified as ‘Equality on Paper’. Albania goes halfway to grant immigrants basic rights and protection, but they do not enjoy equal opportunities to participate in society, according to the Migration Integration Policy Index 2020 report.

The country scored 43 points out of a possible hundred, ranking as “halfway favourable.”

According to the report, Albania’s current policies on immigration encourage the public to see immigrants as strangers instead of their equals. There are believed to be up to 15,000 foreign citizens living in Albania.

“A country’s approach to integration matters because policies influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other,” the report reads.

It notes that Albania’s integration policies are below average in Europe.

The report found that newcomer foreign citizens in Albania have equal access to education, training and the recognition of foreign qualifications, but not, critically to the labour market itself. It explains that immigrants receive little general and no targeted support to improve their professional skills and job prospects in the country.

In terms of family reunification, foreign citizens who can meet the economic and housing requirements can immediately apply, but they face obstacles to reunite with several types of dependent family members and their status is insecure and uncertain.

There are a small number of immigrant children at Albanian public schools. They enjoy the right to compulsory education but no support to access higher education. Schools receive almost no educational guidance or resources to support immigrant pupils or diversity at school.

Ranked third from the bottom of all 52 MIPEX countries, migrant health policies are less favourable than in almost all the MIPEX countries. Immigrants in Albania can access the health system under some conditions, yet they receive no health information or support to access it in practice.

When it comes to political participation, Albania fares poorly. Foreign legal residents are not informed about political opportunities, consulted, supported or allowed to vote in local elections.

Lastly in terms of discrimination, people residing in Albania are protected from discrimination on ethnic/racial, religious but not nationality grounds, unlike the trend in most European countries. Potential discrimination victims also lack access to support from effective enforcement mechanisms and equality policies.