Every Austrian has the constitutional right to migrate. For several years after the end of World War II, fairly large numbers of Austrians emigrated, mostly to Australia, Canada, and the US, but as the economy recovered from war damage, emigration became insignificant. Austria retains the principle of the right of asylum, and the benefits of Austrian social legislation are granted to refugees and displaced persons. Between 1945 and 1983, 1,942,782 refugees from more than 30 countries came to Austria, of whom about 590,000 became Austrian citizens (including some 302,000 German-speaking expatriates from Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia). Following the political upheavals in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland in 1981, Austria received large numbers of refugees from these countries: 180,432 Hungarians, about 100,000 Czechs and Slovaks, and 33,142 Poles. Between 1968 and 1986, 261,857 Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union passed through Austria, about one-third of them going to Israel and the rest to other countries, primarily the US. Of Austrians living abroad, some 186,900 were residents of Germany in 1991. As of 2002, Austria has a net migration rate of -0.8 migrants per 1,000 population.
In 2001 there were 30,140 asylum applications. The majority of those seeking asylum were from Afhanistan, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Yugoslavia. Approximately 23% of those were from Afghanistan alone. In that year there were 15,500 refugees in Austria. Also, marriages to a foreign spouse accounted for 16.3% of all marriages, which increased the foreign population. Citizenship legislation has been changed to allow foreign spouses to become citizens only after five years of marriage to the same Austrian spouse.
There were 32,000 foreign workers in the country in 2001, primarily from Germany. The integration of Bosnian refugees from the mid-1990s has been successful; the majority have continued with their employment. Turkish workers traditionally have had the highest unemployment rate of all foreign worker groups.