MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) FROM RUSSIAN CITIZENS MOVING TO SERBIA

06
Sept 2022

Contact: Nemanja Žunić

Contact: Marija Medić

Serbia is becoming a more and more interesting place for living for foreign citizens. Maybe it is because of the location, people, and style of life, but what is certain, is the liberality when it comes to immigration law and policies. If you walk through the streets of Serbian towns, it is quite likely you will hear more and more English language, and in the last few months, Russian language.

Perks of living in Serbia are many, therefore, we would like to present you the answers to the FAQ about moving to Serbia and obtaining a temporary residence permit, if you are a citizen of the Russian Federation (hereinafter: Russia).

If you are thinking about moving to Serbia from the Russian Federation, prepare the next few minutes to read our answers, which hopefully, will ease the process of deciding, and lead you decide to become a Serbian resident.

Do Russian Citizens Need a Visa to Enter Serbia?

No, Russian citizens are eligible to enter Serbia without any visa. Visa-free entrance is a great advantage, bearing in mind that some countries need to obtain a tourist visa to even enter Serbia (short stay visa), not to mention apply for a temporary residence permit (for example long stay visa for Indian citizens).

That said, another important fact to know is that Russian citizens are allowed to stay in Serbia on a touristic stay for up to 30 days. Plus, each time Russian citizens re-enter the country, their previous touristic stay is annulled, and a new 30-day of touristic stay begins.

For example, if Ivan Ivanov, a Russian citizen, enters Serbia on August 1, and stays in Belgrade for 15 days and must travel back to Moscow due to business plans, he does not have to worry that the next time he comes to Serbia on August 29, he has the right to stay only for one day, to meet the condition of allowed 30 days of the touristic stay. On the contrary, he gained another 30 days of a touristic stay on August 29.

We believe this is one of the most significant advantages, especially when the rest of the world is, unfortunately, leaning towards forbidding Russian citizens from even entering their country.

What Are the Legal Grounds to Obtain a Temporary Residence Permit in Serbia for Russian Citizens?

Serbian Law on Foreigners[1] stipulated several legal grounds to obtain a temporary residence permit for foreigners. However, for Russian citizens, commonly used are the following:

  • to work in a company in Serbia,
  • to establish a company or entrepreneurship,
  • gaining ownership over real estate,
  • family reunification.

Answers to the following questions will provide you with thorough information about each legal ground.

Of course, each case is individual and deserves a special review, therefore, having professional legal assistance in the procedure of obtaining a temporary residence permit in Serbia is advisable. Our attorneys specialized in the field of immigration law and rights of foreigners would be more than glad to provide you with the proper legal advice and the best solution for your case.

For example, Ivan Ivanov can establish his own company, or a consultant agency. He has the right to purchase real estate in Belgrade. Also, Ivan Ivanov can become an employee in Yandex Serbia. All the abovementioned situations could represent Ivan’s legal ground to apply for a temporary residence permit in Serbia.

If you want to read more about general FAQ on moving to Serbia to help you better understand some of the basic rules and possibilities, feel free to dive in.

How Long Does the Procedure for a Temporary Residence Permit Last?

To legally stay in Serbia for longer than 30 days, Russian citizens must apply for a temporary residence permit, based on several possible legal grounds. If they want to work, together with the temporary residence permit, Russian citizens must apply for the work permit.

In the joint procedure for temporary residence and work permit, which is a novelty in Serbian immigration legislation, it is possible to obtain both permits. Competitive authorities have 30 days from the day of submission of the joint application, to decide upon each request.

That said, the duration of the procedure before the authorities is 30 days, however, together with the preparation of the documents, depending on each case, the whole procedure can take up to 2 months.

Do Russian Citizens Need to Be in Serbia During the Whole Process?

No, from the day of applying to the day Russian citizens must collect the decision on an approved temporary residence permit, they are free to leave the country at any moment.

If you are keen on the electronic world and try to avoid waiting in queues in the Police Department for Foreigners, the possibility of an electronic application for a temporary residence permit is the perfect solution for you. But the electronic application is not enabled for the joint application, so you would have to apply for the work permit in a separate procedure.

Can Russian Citizens Work in Serbia Just Like Serbian Citizens Can?

Yes, Russian citizens are eligible to work in Serbian companies. They can be in employment relationships just like Serbian citizens, with some special pre-conditions that have to be met, following Serbian Law on employment of foreign citizens[2].

For example, if Ivan Ivanov wants to be employed by a Serbian company, his employer must undertake several legal steps, to employ him. Some of them are initiating the test before the competent authority whether some Serbian citizens are eligible to work in Ivan’s job position.

Also, to work in Serbia, Ivan Ivanov must bring his diploma, or certificate to prove his education, since that is one of the documents necessary to submit to the competent authority to obtain a work permit.

The procedure for being employed in a Serbian company as a Russian citizen is more complex than establishing a company or entrepreneurship since more legal actions and steps are required. However, the fact is that Russian citizens are entitled to each right connected to the labor law and employment status, as Serbian citizens are, which can be more than beneficial.

If you are wondering whether you collected all relevant documents for applying for the temporary residence and work permit based on the employment status and whether your employment agreement is in accordance with the relevant immigration and labor laws, bear in mind that our law firm has a specialist in both fields of law. Furthermore, if some employer is planning to employ Russian citizen, he might be interested in the possibility to use tax benefits for foreigners.

Can Russian Citizens Establish a Company Without Some Restrictions?

Definitely yes. Serbia is an open market for people ready to set up their companies and expand their business in this part of Europe. Russian citizens have the right to establish a company or entrepreneurship, just like they are entitled to work in Serbia.

Depending on business plans and preferences, one can decide to go down the path of establishing an LLC (limited liability company) or entrepreneurship, and both are equal legal grounds to apply for a residency permit in Serbia. Please bear in mind that in both options, Russian citizens must obtain a work permit, but in this case, the work permit will be based on self-employment, unlike the previous option, where the work permit will be based on employment status.

Can Russian Citizens Gain Ownership Over Real Estate in Serbia?

One of the advantages if you are a Russian citizen is that you are eligible to purchase real estate in Serbia. As mentioned before, gaining ownership over real estate presents one of the commonly used legal grounds to obtain a temporary residence permit.

In our previous blog, we explained the main guidelines regarding purchasing real estate in Serbia by foreigners. Well known fact is that between Serbia and Russia exists factual reciprocity, which implies that Serbian citizens can buy real estate in Russia, as well as Russian citizens can buy real estate in Serbia.

However, Russian citizens cannot buy any type of real estate. The prohibition of buying agricultural land by foreign citizens is applicable in this case also.

If you are interested in this topic, you are probably wondering how can you pay the purchase price. Are there any problems related to the payment method? This brings us to the next frequently asked question.

Can Russian Citizens Open Bank Accounts in Serbia?

Normally, Russian citizens have the right to submit necessary documents and to open a non-resident bank account in Serbia. There are no restrictions or prohibitions for them to do so.

In the previous past months, a lot of different practices and cases occurred, but the conclusion is that transactions from and to Russia in designated banks are, somewhat and for the time being, going normally. The main link and factor in this transaction circle are the correspondent banks. Also, each bank has discretionary power to decide not to open a non-resident bank account for each foreigner, not only for Russian citizens, due to different KYC procedures.

Opening a non-resident bank account is significant from the aspect of the temporary residence permit procedure since Russian citizens must prove that they have enough means to support themselves. The proof is whether an employment agreement or depositing a certain amount of money in a non-resident bank account in Serbia.

What if I Want to Move my Family to Serbia as well?

Family reunification with a foreigner on an approved temporary residence permit is a legal ground for their spouses, children, common-law partners, and some other family members explicitly enlisted in Law on Foreigners, to apply for the temporary residence permit.

Take the example of Ivan Ivanov. His wife Natalia can move together with him to Serbia, or she can join him later on, once his temporary residence permit is approved. Their two minor twins, Maria and Vera can come with them and apply on the ground of family reunification, but their son Viktor, who is 20 years old, cannot apply for the temporary residence permit on the same legal ground as his minor sisters. But, Viktor can be employed in his father’s company, or if his father Ivan decides to employ in a Serbian company, maybe Victor can also try to find a job on the Serbian market, or open a consulting firm (entrepreneur’s agency).

As it can be seen from this example, spouses and minor children are entitled to seek temporary residence through family reunifications, but people over 18 years, are not entitled to apply based on this ground.

You are probably wondering how Russian citizens can indeed prove their family relations. That is why Russian citizens should have in mind the obligation to bring Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificates once moving to Serbia.

One of the many perks is that due to good bilateral relations between Russia and Serbia, there is no need for international legalization of those documents. In other words, Ivan and Natalia should bring their Marriage Certificate, and Birth Certificates for Maria and Vera. Once they come to Serbia, they will translate the abovementioned documents into the Serbian language, and they will be ready for use.

What About Common-Law Partners?

The existence of common-law marriage (long-lasting cohabitation by two persons of different sexes without formally being married) is also a way of family reunification. Under Serbian law, marriage and common-law marriage have the same strength and significance, and it can be said that both cohabitation units are almost equal.

Therefore, a common-law partner of Russian citizens can come to Serbia and apply for a temporary residence permit. The most challenging part of the process of obtaining a residency permit, in this case, is that common-law partners must prove the existence and duration of their common-law marriage.

What About Other Questions We Have?

Since we are aware that deciding to transfer your life and residency from Russia to Serbia is not that easy, and has a lot of advantages and downsides, we tried to explain important things that you might be concerned about that particularly relate to Russian citizens.

If you decide to come to Serbia and obtain a temporary residence permit, we would be more than glad to provide legal assistance and give you a warm welcome in Serbia. In that way, you will be able to find out yourself why Serbia has become the Europe’s hidden jewel in terms of quality for living.

[1] Law on Foreigners („Official Gazette“, no. 24/2018 and 31/2019), Serbian version – http://www.parlament.gov.rs/upload/archive/files/cir/pdf/zakoni/2018/3791-17.pdf
[2] Law on Employment of Foreign Citizens („Official Gazzette“, no. 128/2014, 113/2017, 50/2018 and 31/2019), Serbian version –  http://www.parlament.gov.rs/upload/archive/files/cir/pdf/zakoni/2018/2264-18.pdf

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