Immigrants face slightly more obstacles than opportunities for societal integration in Moldova, which scores 47 on the 100-point MIPEX scale like the MIPEX averge country (49). Moldova’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “equality on paper” only. As in most Central and Eastern European countries, immigrants in Moldova enjoy basic rights and halfway favourable long-term security, but do not enjoy equal opportunities. Major obstacles emerge in relation to their education, health and political participation.
A country’s approach to integration matters because integration policies influence whether or not integration works as a two-way process. The ways in which governments treat immigrants affect the ways in which immigrants and the public interact with each other. Integration policy is one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
Moldova’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as equals. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants not only as equals, but also as neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
Moldova’s integration policies score slightly below EU countries but above new European countries (EU13, 41/100). Moldova adopts policies similar to those of Bulgaria and Hungary, although overall these two countries score less favourably. The Moldovan approach is also similar to that of Romania, which has slightly more favourable policies.
- Labour market mobility: Halfway favourable: Permanent residents and those with family reunion permits in Moldova have immediate, equal access to employment, and all immigrants can access self-employment. However, immigrant workers receive little general and no targeted support in the improvement of their professional skills or opportunities.
- Family reunification: Slightly favourable: Sponsors can request family reunification for their close family members with few additional requirements, and have the possibility of being granted autonomous residence permits in fewer than 5 years.
- Education: Unfavourable: Immigrant pupils have implicit access to education but receive little support and no targeted measures to meet their specific needs.
- Health: Slightly unfavourable: Immigrants in Moldova can access the healthcare system under some conditions, and this access is subject to administrative discretion. Immigrants do receive information on healthcare but in general there is little support available for specific health needs.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: Most immigrants are denied the opportunity to participate in public life in Moldova, as foreign citizens have no right to vote. However, since 2015, immigrants receive more information on their political and social rights and are consulted at the national level.
- Permanent residence: Slightly favourable: Certain residency, language and economic conditions must be met by foreign nationals before they can be given a permanent residence permit, which grants them a secure status and equal access to social security and other social rights.
- Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: The path to Moldavan citizenship is long and burdensome, with restrictive language and economic requirements. Moldova has followed international trends on dual nationality in terms of the naturalisation of adults and citizenship entitlements for children.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: Victims of ethnicity/race, religion or nationality-based discrimination in Moldova are supported by the law in all areas of social life, with strong enforcement mechanisms but a still weak equality body.