Serbia Introduces Amendments to Work and Residence Authorization Regulations

In line with Directive 2011/98/EU, the Serbian parliament is currently engaged in a debate over proposed amendments to the country’s regulations governing the issuance of work and residence authorization. If these amendments are adopted, it will mark a significant change in the Serbian immigration system. The main highlight of these proposed amendments is the introduction of a Single Permit, which will provide individuals with the right to both work and reside in Serbia.

The amendments are expected to go into effect on 1 February 2024, and they bring about several key changes that aim to streamline and improve the existing immigration process. Let’s delve into the notable modifications that will be implemented:

  1. Extended Validity: The Single Permit will be issued to intra-company transferees and applicants on secondment for a period of up to three years. This represents a considerable extension compared to the current practice of granting work permits and temporary residence permits (TRPs) for one year only.
  2. Expedited Processing: The government will expedite the processing of Single Permit applications, reducing the duration from 60 days (cumulative processing time for work permits and TRPs) to just 15 days. This accelerated timeline will ensure a quicker and more efficient evaluation of applications.
  3. Labor Market Test: Employers sponsoring Single Permit applicants will now be required to conduct a labor market test for four days instead of the previous 10-day requirement for work permit and TRP applicants. This shorter duration aims to facilitate the hiring process for employers while maintaining appropriate labor market safeguards.
  4. Job and Employer Changes: Single Permit holders will have the flexibility to change their job position or employer without the need to cancel their existing permit. Previously, work permit holders had to cancel their current permit and obtain a new one when changing their job position or employer.
  5. Extended Application Period: Single Permit holders will be able to submit extension applications until the date of their permit’s expiry, with a minimum of 90 days prior to that date. This is a departure from the current requirement for TRP holders to submit extension applications at least 30 days before their permit’s expiry.
  6. Dependent Work Authorization: Dependents of Single Permit holders who obtain residence authorization for family union purposes will be eligible to undertake work in Serbia. This is a significant change from the current practice, where dependents of work permit and TRP holders with residence authorization for family union purposes are not allowed to work.
  7. Biometric Identification: The Single Permit will be issued as a biometric document, representing a shift from the physical document format of work permits and TRP stickers. This transition to biometric identification aims to enhance security and facilitate verification processes.
  8. Accelerated Permanent Residence: Single Permit holders will become eligible to apply for permanent residence after continuously residing in Serbia for three years. This marks a reduction from the current requirement of five years for work permit and TRP holders.
  9. Expanded Eligibility: Individuals will be eligible to apply for Single Permits based on an employment contract with a Serbian company that is valid for a definite or indefinite period. This expands the scope of eligibility beyond the previous restriction of only allowing applications based on an indefinite employment contract under limited circumstances.

In conclusion, if the proposed amendments to Serbia’s work and residence authorization regulations are approved, they will introduce a range of significant changes. The introduction of the Single Permit system, along with streamlined procedures, extended validity, and enhanced flexibility, aims to improve the immigration process and promote the ease of doing business in Serbia. These changes demonstrate Serbia’s commitment to aligning its immigration policies with European Union directives while creating a more favorable environment for foreign workers and their families.

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