The Amendments to the Law on Foreigners – Serbia Facilitates the Process of Employment and Stay of Foreigners

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The new Amendments to the Law on Foreigners, as well as Amendments to the Law on Employment of Foreigners, have entered into force on May 7, 2019.

Although the present Law on Foreigners has already been favorable to foreigners, the National Assembly decided to enhance the appeal of Serbia to foreigners even more by facilitating the process of obtaining temporary residence permits in Serbia and work permits in Serbia.

The general idea behind the amendments is to improve the business climate in Serbia by raising competitiveness and employment of foreigners in our country.

Furthermore, the Amendments are expected to simplify the administrative procedure for issuing a work permit, which will be of great benefit to foreigners. Having in mind all the advantages mentioned above, the final goal is to encourage more foreign investments into Serbia.

Hence, crucial novelties are related to long term visa (Visa D) based on employment, the possibility to submit a unified application for both temporary permit residence (TRP) and work permit and the opportunity to apply for the temporary residence permit electronically for the first time or the renewal, either from Serbia or abroad.

However, if you are someone whose temporary residence permit is soon to be renewed, or if you are just interested in relocating to Serbia at a closer date, you should know that these crucial novelties will be applicable as of January 1, 2020.

Below, we will outline the most significant changes and new possibilities introduced in The Amendments to the Law on Foreigners.

1. Long-Term Visa (Visa D) Based on Employment

One of the most significant changes in comparison to the previous regulation is the possibility to apply for a long-term visa (Visa D) based on employment.

Under Article 22 of the Law, the long-term visa grants permission to enter and stay on the territory of the Republic of Serbia for a period between 90 and 180 days. Obtaining a long-term visa is necessary for foreigners who require a visa under the visa regime for entry into our country and who intend to apply for temporary residence.

The newly added paragraph to Article 22 that will be applicable as of January 1, 2020, prescribes a new type of visa, a “long-term visa based on employment”.

Consequently, a foreigner who acquires the long-term visa based on employment, exercises the employment rights in accordance with The Law on Employment of Foreigners.

The harmonization of the two Laws will result in the possibility for foreigners to apply for the work permit based on a long-term visa. Such a work permit will be issued for the period of visa validity.

On the other hand, in case the business engagement is extended, a foreigner should apply for a temporary residence permit based on employment before the long-term visa based on employment expires.

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2. Unified Application for both Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) and Work Permit

The Amendments introduced a completely new possibility of unified application for both the temporary residence permit and the work permit.

This means that foreigners will have the opportunity to apply to a single administrative body instead of initiating two separate procedures consecutively.

This solution is quite useful as it will save time and simplify the procedure, which is going to have a positive influence on the encouragement of foreigners to come to Serbia and establish a work relationship.

3. Electronic Application for Temporary Residence Permit

In order to simplify the sometimes complicated and time-consuming procedures, the amendment to Article 41 of the Law brings the option to submit the application for the temporary residence permit and work permit electronically, either from Serbia or abroad.

It seems like the perfect way to file your application for a temporary residence permit, without the necessity to stand in line for several hours. This innovation is expected to bring great relief and benefit to foreigners willing to obtain a residence permit in Serbia.

Although this is one of the long-awaited novelties, there is still a justified doubt whether it would be applicable in practice.

The doubt stems from the fact that the Minister of Interior is supposed to bring the detailed conditions for electronic application for temporary residence.

However, please bear in mind that our laws prescribe the opportunity for online communication with the authorities in many other procedures, but that most of them still do not have technical support for such.

It remains to be seen whether the authorities are going to take the effective approach and turn this norm into reality.

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4. Special Categories of Foreigners – Possibility to Avoid Statutory Requirements?

Finally, the last of the most important novelties prescribes a special category of foreigners, who will be able to acquire temporary residence permit, even though they do not meet the criteria directly required by the Law.

Criteria, as well as categories, will be prescribed by the Government’s Act.

This, as well as other Decisions of the Government, referred to by the Law, are due to be published within the six months from the enforcement of the Law.

Therefore, even this amendment that could be applicable as of May 15, cannot be applied because its application depends on the Government’s Act that is not yet in force.

5. Conclusion

If we would stop to summarize, the Amendments to the Law on Foreigners carry a great potential to improve the business climate in Serbia and the outcome of the introduced changes could provide the appropriate treatment of foreigners in Serbia, with emphasis on more simplified and time-saving procedures for obtaining a work permit and temporary residence permit.

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