Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) – Integration of immigrants into Czech society should focus on the whole family of the immigrants rather than on individuals, according to a survey by the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs and the Ethnology Institute.

The family plays the key role in the immigrants’ integration and this is especially true of the people from the countries outside of the European Union, in which family ties and inter-generational solidarity are strong, the survey concluded.

Foreigners start families, decide to live in the Czech Republic with their families, they invite their husbands or wives, their parents or relatives to join them in the country, the authors of the survey write.

The integration policies of a number of European countries have started to support the union of the immigrant families because restrictions and effort to prevent other family members from joining the immigrants were counter-productive in the integration process, they write.

The integration effort should begin as soon as the foreigners arrive in the country and not only when tension between the immigrants’ children and the majority society starts growing, the authors write.

The integration concerns accommodation, education, employment, health care, participation in the life of the local community and involvement in politics.

But the Czech state integration policy usually focused merely on one of the above mentioned dimensions and the multiple effects of the integration were seldom taken into account, the authors write.

The present data sources are not sufficient for monitoring integration in the Czech Republic. The foreigner police register the numbers of foreigners, while the labour offices stopped releasing data on the employment of foreigners and welfare benefits paid to them several years ago.

The Czech statistical data provide no information on the second or third generation of immigrants. In Austria, the country of origin is registered, the authors say.

Without sufficient data, the social and economic impact of migration and integration of families on the functioning of the state and the related demands placed on the social systems cannot be estimated, the authors write.

A new information system on families of foreigners from outside of the EU should can help the integration policy become more adequate, they write.

Foreigners from different countries have different attitudes to integration. For example, people from Ukraine and Moldova often considered their stay in the Czech Republic temporary: they arrived alone and sent the money they earned to their families at home. On the other hand, people from Vietnam or China settled in the country: other family members gradually joined the bread-winner.

Successful integration of one of the members of the migrant families at work or school can help the integration of the others, the authors write.

The survey says most foreigners came to the Czech Republic for economic reasons.

According to the Czech Statistical Office (CSU), over 258,000 foreigners from non-European countries who had a residence permit for more than 12 months lived in the country at the end of 2014. Among them, 178,600 non-EU foreigners had permanent residence permits. Further 2556 non-EU foreigners were granted asylum.