SERBIA FACILITATES THE PROCESS OF EMPLOYMENT AND STAY OF FOREIGNERS

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

Although the 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 was to improve the business climate in Serbia by raising the competitiveness and employment of foreigners in our country. These amendments have shown significant effects in the period from entry into force to the present day.

Furthermore, the Amendments were expected to simplify the administrative procedure for issuing a work permit, as well as to be of great benefit to foreigners. Having in mind all the advantages mentioned above, the final goal was to encourage more foreign investments in Serbia.

Hence, crucial novelties were 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.

These amendments are applicable as of January 1, 2020.

Below, we will outline the most significant changes and 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 added paragraph is applicable as of January 1, 2020, and prescribes a new type of visa, a “long-term visa based on employment”.

In line with this provision, a foreigner who acquires a long-term visa based on employment exercises employment rights in accordance with The Law on Employment of Foreigners.

The harmonization of the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreigners resulted in the possibility for foreigners to apply for a work permit based on a long-term visa. Such a work permit can 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.

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

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

Thanks to these amendments, foreigners now have the opportunity to apply to a single administrative body instead of initiating two separate procedures consecutively.

This solution has shown to be quite useful as it saves time and simplifies the procedure, which has had a positive effect on the encouragement of foreigners to come to Serbia and establish a working relationship. The submission of a joint application for a temporary residence permit and work permit has aroused great interest among foreigners who come to Serbia for work, and in practice, this possibility is often used.

3. Electronic Application for Temporary Residence Permit

To simplify the sometimes complicated and time-consuming procedures, the amendment to the Law brought the option to apply for a work permit and temporary residence permit electronically, either from Serbia or abroad.

This seems like the perfect way to file your application for a temporary residence permit, without the necessity to stand in line for several hours. It was expected that this provision should bring great relief and benefit to foreigners willing to obtain a residence permit in Serbia. It turned out that this is indeed the case since more and more foreigners decide to arrange their residence status before coming to Serbia.

Despite reasonable doubts about the technical capacity of the competent authorities to receive and process such requests, the practice has shown that the introduced solution has come to life, with minor technical problems occurring from time to time.

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

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

These criteria, as well as the categories of foreigners, are prescribed by the Decree on Criteria for Determining Categories of Foreigners and Categories of Foreigners to Which Temporary Residence Can Be Granted, regardless of the basis for granting temporary residence, adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia in 2020.

The Government Decree has improved the position and facilitated the procedure of obtaining a temporary residence permit for foreigners – start-up founders, highly educated individuals, and investors.

5. Conclusion

The general opinion that the Law on Amendments to the Law on Foreigners has great potential for improving the business climate in Serbia has proved to be justified. These changes resulted in improved treatment of foreigners in Serbia, with an emphasis on simplifying the procedure and saving time when applying for temporary residence and work permits.

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