Integration of refugees is a dynamic two-way process. It begins from the day a refugee arrives within the new host society. The approach that governments choose determines the outcome of integration efforts and services and will ultimately influence integration for individual refugees. Refugee integration therefore places demands both on receiving societies and on the individuals and communities concerned.
Due to the forced nature of their migration and their experiences, compared with other migrant groups, refugees will often have specific needs that should be met in order to support their integration. They will often be one of the most vulnerable groups in society while also being the most resilient. It is therefore important that the special needs of refugees are recognised in integration policies and practices within an overall policy of mainstreaming.
In November 2003, the EU adopted a Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents. This Directive grants a Long-Term Residence permit to third-country nationals who:
- have been staying legally and continuously on the territory of a Member State for a period of five years;
- can prove they have stable and regular resources for themselves and their dependent family members;
- have medical insurance.
The Long-Term Residence permit is a permanent status that gives the holder a right to equal treatment with nationals in relation to the areas mentioned in the Directive, including access to employment, education, social security and social assistance. Furthermore, the LTR permit gives the holder the right to reside in a Member State other than the one that has granted the LTR permit to exercise an economic activity in an employed or self-employed capacity, the pursuit of studies or vocational training or other purposes.
Refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are included in the scope of the amended LTR Directive and can therefore apply for a LTR permit.