permanent residence in serbia


Most foreign citizens whose life or business interests are firmly tied to the Republic of Serbia aim to get permanent residency in our country as a long-term goal. Permanent residence means approval of a foreign citizen’s long-term stay in the Republic of Serbia. 

Amendments to the Law on Foreigners from July 2023 also addressed permanent residency. On the one hand, the amendments aimed to shorten the period after which a foreign citizen can apply for permanent residence. On the other hand, they introduced some new reasons (grounds) for obtaining permanent residency. In other words, the amendments aimed to further affirm this important legal institution of immigration law in practice. One of the Legislator’s proclaimed goals is to improve the position of foreigners with long-lasting, strong ties to Serbia in the domain of family, economic, or cultural life. 


Considering that permanent residence is a higher degree of integration within the order of the Republic of Serbia, a precondition is that the foreigner already has an approved temporary residence in our country. Namely, a foreigner who resides in the Republic of Serbia for three consecutive years on the basis of a temporary residence permit is entitled to permanent residence. The condition of the previous legal solution was continuous temporary residence for a period of five years. 

It should be borne in mind that continuity is required with regard to previously approved temporary stays of foreigners. Therefore, broken temporary residence continuity results in calculating the time period as of the starting date of the new approval of temporary residence that followed the broken continuity. For example, if a foreign citizen had a temporary residence permit in the period from 30/04/2021 to 30/04/2023 and then makes a break (leaves the country) and gets a temporary residence permit again on 30/04/2024, the condition for applying for permanent residence is only acquired on 30/04/2027 considering that their previously approved two-year temporary residence does not count. 

Apart from the administrative requirement for the time spent within a temporary stay of at least three years, the Law on Foreigners also recognizes the requirement regarding the effective time spent in Serbia. Namely, the foreigner is required to effectively reside on the territory of the Republic of Serbia for a period of three years during the approved temporary residence period. This implies that the foreigner has not spent, in the case of multiple and one-time absences, more than ten and six months outside the territory of the Republic of Serbia, respectively. The Ministry of Interior checks the movement of foreigners, so if it determines that a foreigner has stayed outside of Serbia for more than ten months, it will reject the application for permanent residence. 

The Law on Foreigners prohibits two categories of foreigners from applying for permanent residence. Namely, foreign citizens who have an approved temporary residence in Serbia on the grounds of studying or schooling cannot apply for permanent residence. This restriction is aimed at foreign nationals who had an approved residence permit on the grounds of studying or schooling throughout the required period. On the other hand, if the foreigner has changed the grounds for obtaining temporary residence in the meantime, e.g., from studying to employment, they can apply for permanent residence. However, in that case, only one-half of the time of the approved temporary residence on the grounds of studying or education will count as the time required for approving permanent residence. 

At the time of applying for permanent residence, the foreigner must have an approved temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia. This legal solution implies that, in practice, a foreigner who has been granted temporary residence for a period of three years will have to obtain an extension of temporary residence in Serbia before applying for permanent residence. 


The grounds for approval of permanent residence are identical to the grounds for approval of temporary residence for foreigners in Serbia. Accordingly, the reasons for obtaining permanent residency include family reunification, employment, self-employment (founding a company or registering as a sole trader), ownership of real estate, performing a religious service, humanitarian reasons, and reasons related to victims of human trafficking. Also, permanent residence will be approved for a foreigner who has resided in the Republic of Serbia for more than three consecutive years based on the right to asylum. 

The latest amendments to the Law on Foreigners introduced four new categories of foreigners who will be granted permanent residency without the prior requirement to fulfill any of the conditions regarding the granted temporary residence. Accordingly, permanent residence will be granted to: 

  • a minor whose one parent is a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or a foreigner with approved permanent residence, 
  • a foreigner of Serbian origin, 
  • a foreigner of Serbian descent, and 
  • other foreigners if it is in the interest of the Republic of Serbia.

The Legislator’s intention to bring the Serbian diaspora closer to the motherland by enabling them to get permanent residence on an ad hoc basis by a shortcut avoiding the requirement of continuous temporary stay in the Republic of Serbia is obvious – e.g., a grandson, a second generation born in one of the Western European or North American countries, can get permanent residence if proving that his grandfather was Serbian. However, the benefits of this legal solution can also be used by foreigners whose ancestors were not of Serbian origin but were born on the territory of today’s Serbia – e.g., permanent residence can be applied for by a Turk whose grandfather was born on the territory of today’s Raška region (Novi Pazar). 


The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia decides on foreigner applications for permanent residence within 60 days of submission. The application can also be submitted electronically. During the decision-making process, the public authority responsible for the security of the Republic of Serbia assesses whether the permanent residence of a foreigner is an unacceptable security risk. 

The application for permanent residence will be rejected in the following situations: 

  • if the foreigner does not fulfill the general conditions for approving permanent residence (e.g., has not stayed in Serbia for consecutive 3 years based on temporary residence) 
  • if the foreigner has been sentenced to a prison term of more than six months for a crime for which they are being prosecuted ex officio or proceedings have been initiated
  • if required by the reasons for protecting the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens 
  • if the foreigner is prohibited from entering the Republic of Serbia 
  • if a security or expulsion measure has been imposed on the foreigner 

For more information on this and other issues in the field of law on foreigners, it is best to contact a attorney at law.

Share this post

Leave a Reply