Expats vs. Immigrants: Czechs Weigh In

A new survey offers insights into how Czechs feels about foreigners who settle in the country and their reasons for doing so

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 25.05.2017 11:17:13 (updated on 25.05.2017) Reading time: 2 minutes

Why did you move to the Czech Republic?

This is a question that any individual who has relocated to the country is used to hearing with some frequency. According to a new survey, your answer could say a lot about what locals think of you.

The Public Opinion Research Centre (Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění) asked Czechs to weigh in on not only the question of foreigners who settle in their country on a permanent basis, but their motivations for doing so.

Researchers asked 1,054 Czechs a series of questions about what they consider to be the appropriate amount of foreigners living in the country, whether those foreigners should have the right to reside in the country long-term, and whether the state should allow them to settle here permanently.

More than three quarters of respondents (78%) said that foreigners should be able to stay in the Czech Republic under certain conditions; approximately two fifths (39%) of Czech citizens said that they believe there are too many foreigners living in the Czech Republic.

But what’s most telling is how subjects responded to a foreigner’s given reasons for settling in the country.

The most acceptable reason for a permanent or long-term stay in the Czech Republic was given as study (76%), followed by family reunification (65%).

The majority of Czechs also expressed an acceptance of foreigners who come to the country to escape persecution for religious or political reasons.

And yet there was one reason behind a long-term or permanent residency that was deemed least acceptable by the majority of Czechs:

“The reason the respondents found the least acceptable is that foreigners simply like our country and want to live here,” the Centre said in a press release.

In an interview this year with the BBC, Malte Zeeck, founder and co-CEO of InterNations, offered this definition of an expat: “For people that we today call expats…living abroad is rather a lifestyle choice than borne out of economic necessity or dire circumstances in their home country such as oppression or persecution.” 

If you accept Zeeck’s explanation, then the data isn’t exactly favorable toward the traditional expatriate.

The Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) reported a record number (493,000) of foreigners in the country in 2016.

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