The number of migrant workers will continue to grow in Lithuania this year, analysts say.
The Lithuanian Employment Service issued 8,400 work permits to foreigners in January-November 2019, a 70-percent increase from the year before. More than half of foreign workers come from Ukraine.
Simplified work permit procedures and visa issuance contributed to the growth, the service believes, as did labour shortages in some sectors.
“The number of foreign workers in Lithuania is likely to increase next year  amid shortages of skilled labour in the country. They fill job vacancies where no Lithuanian or EU citizens are available,” the service told BNS at the end of 2019.
Linas Čekanavičius, a professor of economics at Vilnius University, comments that most foreigners, especially less skilled workers, come for higher wages.
“Most people come here because wages in Lithuania are better than in their countries. However, there are people, including those from Western countries, who come here because of better business opportunities,” the professor told BNS.
“They find a niche here or (...) offer something more interesting, different, something that is available in their country, but not in ours,” he added.
Last year, the Employment Service issued documents to foreigner workers from 58 countries. Sixty percent came from Ukraine, 21 percent from Belarus, 3 percent from Russia and Uzbekistan each, and 2 percent from China and Georgia each.
Most of the migrants come to work as cooks, construction workers, carpenters, international passenger transport drivers, car mechanics, and forklift drivers.
The statistics do not include foreign workers whose skills are on the list of occupations in short supply in Lithuania and who therefore do not need permits to work in the country.
The Migration Department issued a total of 46,100 national visas over January-November 2019, including 34,500 visas for work. In 2018, the figures were 46,130 and 36,040, respectively.
Some 38,560 foreigners were issued temporary residence permits in January-November last year, up from 23,850 in 2018.