Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to comparatively analyse the roles of foreign origin and citizenship in the labor markets of Eastern and Eestern Member States of the EU. Design/methodology/approach – The EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions is used to evaluate the roles of foreign origin and citizenship on employment and earnings using the standard Probit and OLS econometric models. The native/non-native labor market divide is measured using Fairlie and Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition techniques. Findings – The results indicate that, while predominantly foreign origin is of key importance in the Western EU Member States, both foreign origin and citizenship matter in the Eastern EU Member States, their roles depending on gender. Moreover, the evidence suggests that the effects of citizenship in the EU8 may be driven by the (predominantly ethnic Russian) non-citizens in Estonia and Latvia. Research limitations/implications – Further analysis is necessary to evaluate the observed associations as causal relationships. Originality/value – The study is the first to shed light on the role of foreign origin and citizenship in the EU8 and the EU15 in the comparative East-West perspective. The findings have noteworthy implications for the targeting of national as well as EU-wide integration policies.