More than 60,000 foreign students studied at Czech universities last year – a record high. Most full-time diploma students are from neighbouring Slovakia, followed by ex-Soviet states such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, with interest from India and China steadily rising. Most exchange students, coming for just a semester, are from the United States.
Faced by an acute labour shortage, the Czech government is looking to attract more foreign workers and streamline the processing of issuing work permits. In recent years, the country has in particular turned to Ukraine to help fill the gap. The government wants to do the same for workers from EU hopefuls such as Montenegro, Moldova and Serbia, as well as India and other Asian countries.
An amendment to the law on foreigners, in effect as of the beginning of August, has brought a series of changes concerning mainly foreigners from non-EU countries. Among other things, it introduces compulsory integration courses and quotas for economic migration. But, according to migration experts, the law is excessively restrictive.
Nowhere in the entire European Union was a person fleeing their homeland less likely to be granted safe harbour last year than in the Czech Republic. Fresh data from Eurostat show that in 2018 the Czech Ministry of Interior granted international protection to only 1 in 10 applicants – while not a single refugee was resettled here.
The majority of the methamphetamine seized by the Czech police last year was produced by Vietnamese crime gangs. Indeed, almost 70 percent of the illegal drug impounded last year was Vietnamese- produced. Police say cultural differences and the language barrier make it harder to combat these activities.
His father is a Vietnamese businessman and he was born here in the Czech Republic. Thai Dai Van Nguyen is one of many second-generation Vietnamese who are fluent is Czech, as in other foreign languages, hard-working, disciplined and ambitious. At just 16 Van became the youngest chess grandmaster in the Czech Republic and less than two years later he is among the five best players in Europe in his age group. I asked him how his success story began.
Among those following developments in Venezuela with avid interest are Venezuelan emigres who have made a new life in the Czech Republic. For many of them Juan Guaido represents new hope that they will one day be able to return home. Czech Radio spoke to three Venezuelans about their take on the current developments, their fears for the present and hopes for the future.