AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW ON FOREIGNERS AND EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS
The Amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreigners entered into force at the beginning of August. The main intention of the legislator was to simplify and speed up the procedures related to regulating the stay and work of foreign citizens in Serbia. This is understandable since the number of foreign nationals working in Serbia increases yearly, especially in the transport, hospitality, construction and industry sectors.
THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE LAW ON FOREIGNERS
Amendments to the Law on Foreigners, as one of the significant novelties, introduce the possibility that temporary residence can be granted for up to three years. Given that the previous legal solution provided for a maximum duration of temporary stay of up to one year, this way, the position of foreigners is improved, who will not have to go through procedures for extending temporary stay every year but will access it after the expiration of the three years. However, it should be kept in mind that in each specific case, as before, the inspectors of the Department for Foreigners will assess the period for which they will grant temporary residence to foreigners, with three years as the maximum.
The temporary stay can be extended for the same period (up to 3 years), whereby, as a novelty, the possibility is introduced to submit the request for the extension of the temporary stay until the expiration of the previously approved temporary stay. In contrast to the previous legal solution, which stipulated the foreigner’s obligation to submit a request for the extension of temporary stay no later than 30 days before the expiration of the previously approved stay, and the violation of which led to the foreigner’s misdemeanour liability, now the intention is to relieve the Misdemeanor Court, which in the future will not judge these minor offences.
According to the latest changes, permanent residence will be granted to a person who resides in Serbia continuously for three years based on a temporary residence permit. Furthermore, the right to permanent residency, without fulfilling the conditions regarding the time of stay in Serbia, will be granted to a foreigner:
– a minor, if one of the parents is a citizen of Serbia or a foreigner who has been granted permanent residency;
– who is originally from Serbia, that is, of Serbian origin.
UNIQUE PERMIT FOR TEMPORARY RESIDENCE AND WORK OF FOREIGNERS
Against the background of simplifying and speeding up the procedures for the employment of foreigners, the institute of a single permit for temporary residence and work of a foreigner is being introduced as the most important novelty. It is the so-called one-stop application system for temporary residence and work permits through a single electronic portal. A foreigner who intends to reside and work in Serbia, i.e. to carry out professional specialization, training and practice, is obliged to apply for the issuance of a single permit.
A single permit shall be obtained in case of :
1) employment of foreigners;
2) in exceptional cases, if employing foreigners (for referred persons, for movement within the company, for an independent professional, for training and improvement)
The request for issuing a single permit is submitted by a foreigner, an employer on behalf of a foreigner or a lawyer authorized by them electronically through a single portal. As an integral part of the application for issuing a single permit, the employer’s request for conducting a labour market test appears. After the request has been submitted, the competent branch of the National Employment Service assesses the fulfilment of the conditions for issuing a single permit. An integral part of this assessment is preparing a report on realizing the need for employment.
The competent branch of the National Employment Service is obliged to prepare a report on the completion of the need for jobs and deliver it electronically to the applicant within four days from the application’s submission date. On the other hand, the fulfilment of the conditions shall be assessed within ten days, about which it informs the Department for Foreigners.
The applicant for the issuance of a single permit is obliged to attach to the application:
- valid personal or official passport;
- proof of the justification of the request for issuing a single permit and
- residential address, i.e. intended residential address if it is a foreigner who submits the request from abroad.
The Department for Foreigners decides on the request to issue a single permit within 15 days from the date of submission of the proper recommendation. Considering that before these legal changes, a minimum of 50 days had to be waited for the issuance of a work permit starting from the date of submission of the application for approval of temporary residence, the institute of the single permit makes the whole process incomparably more expeditious, and ultimately contributes to raising the rating of the domestic business environment.
A single permit may be issued to a foreigner for up to 3 years and may be extended for the same period. To improve the position of foreigners, the latest amendments to the regulations in the sphere of employment foreigners introduce the possibility for a foreigner with a valid unique permit whose employment relationship with one employer ends within 30 days to conclude a new employment contract and preserve the existing special permit. In this case, the foreigner is obliged to submit a request for a change of employer electronically through a unique portal. About that request shall be decided in the form of consent by the competent branch of the National Employment Service within ten days. If he receives approval, the foreigner can change his employer.
Since it is necessary to prepare an appropriate sub-legal framework, harmonize procedures and create a unique electronic portal, implementing the provisions regulating the institute of a special license will begin on February 1, 2024.
CATEGORIES OF FOREIGNERS WORKING WITHOUT UNIQUE PERMIT
The latest amendments to the Law on the Employment of Foreigners introduce several categories of foreigners who can work in Serbia without obtaining a single permit. These are foreigners who have been granted temporary residence based on the following:
- family reunification with a member of the immediate family of a citizen of Serbia, i.e. a foreigner who has been granted permanent residence;
- ownership of real estate
- humanitarian stay
- studies, etc.
In addition to these categories of foreigners, the right to work in Serbia without previously obtaining a single permit is also exercised by a foreigner who has been granted permanent residence, who has been granted asylum or temporary protection and who is an asylum seeker, if within six months after applying for asylum was not a decision made without his fault.
For more information on this and other issues in the field of employment of foreigners, you can contact a lawyer.