Both the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreigners have suffered numerous amendments in 2019. It was expected that that these amendments would make Serbia an increasingly attractive place for the employment of foreigners and to encourage foreign investments in Serbia, which we discussed in detail in our blog post on the residence permit in Serbia.
The general idea behind the amendments to these two laws was to improve the business climate in Serbia by facilitating the process of obtaining a temporary residence permit in Serbia and getting work permits in Serbia.
Specifically, temporary residence and work permits are common for all foreigners who work in Serbia, but what distinguishes them is the legal ground on which they are based.
An analysis of the implementation of the Law on Employment of Foreigners has shown that so far, among different types of work permits, the largest number issued by the National Employment Service is the work permit for employment.
More precisely, the most sought-after are work permits for persons seconded to work in Serbia, who are employed by a foreign company.
For that reason, the secondment of foreigners to Serbia will be the main topic discussed in this blog.
If you are interested in this topic, we recommend you read the following blog, which will help you get familiar with the key points regarding this matter.
One of the most significant changes in the above-mentioned Law on Foreigners was the possibility to apply for a long-term visa (Visa D) based on employment. This provision is applicable as of January 1, 2020, and it 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 without the obligation to first obtain the temporary residence permit or obtain it even at all.
This way, the foreigners gained the possibility to apply for the work permit based on the long-term visa without having to wait for a temporary residence permit. The introduced legal solution has greatly simplified the previously prolonged procedures regarding the employment of foreigners in Serbia.
However, in the event that employment lasts longer than the period of Visa D, it is important to prolong the stay by requesting a temporary residence permit before the visa D expires.
It is common nowadays that modern business transcends national borders and therefore, the increased workforce mobility is a natural consequence. Furthermore, many foreign employers opt to second their employees abroad in order to work in a branch or subsidiary company registered in Serbia.
According to the Law on Employment of Foreigners (hereinafter: “the Law”), a seconded person is a foreigner employed by a foreign employer, where he exercises his rights arising from employment relationship and who temporary performs business in the territory of the Republic of Serbia or performs services from the business activity of a foreign employer, in accordance with the law and ratified international agreements.
Work permit for secondment of foreigners to Serbia is regulated under the Law and is classified as the work permit for special employment cases along with work permit for transfer within the company, independent professionals and training and professional improvement.
The Law prescribes that this type of work permit could be issued at the request of an employer in Serbia to do business or perform services in the territory of the Republic of Serbia based on a contract concluded between the employer and foreign employer.
The work permit is issued for a concluded contract period which cannot exceed a maximum period of one year. However, it can be extended for up to two years, with the consent of the competent ministry in charge of employment, and upon the previously obtained opinion of the competent ministry in charge of the area which regulates the activity of the employer for business or services that are of interest to the Republic of Serbia. The above-mentioned consent should be obtained by the National Employment Service ex officio.
In addition to internal regulations, this area is regulated at the international level by various bilateral or multilateral agreements concluded by Serbia. It is important to notice that the work permit for the individual will be issued in the procedure and in accordance with conditions, privileges, and terms provided by international agreement, if the employer of this individual, is registered in one of the countries with which Serbia has concluded an international agreement. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer specializing in labor and employment law in order to check whether your country has an agreement with Serbia regulating this matter.
The request for extending the work permit for seconded persons who are employed by a foreign employer shall be submitted to the National Employment Service no later than 60 days before the expiration of the previous work permit validity period.
In order to obtain a work permit for secondment the following requirements need to be fulfilled:
1) the foreign employee has to obtain a long-term visa based on employment or temporary residence permit;
2) the seconded person must be employed by a foreign employer for at least one year;
3) existing act on secondment to Serbia, which determines the manner of exercising rights and obligations arising from work relationship, as well as the type of accommodation during their stay and work in Serbia.
One of the most important novelties from 2019, which has come to life in practice and is often applied, is the possibility of submitting a joint application for a temporary residence and work permit. In this way, sometimes complicated and time-consuming procedures are significantly simplified.Furthermore, the amendment to Article 41 of the Law on Foreigners now provides the option to submit the application for a work permit and a temporary residence permit electronically, either from Serbia or abroad.
This useful novelty is introduced through an electronic application called “e-foreigner” starting from January 1. In other words, the foreigners now have the option to know if their request has been approved even before the arrival in Serbia. Namely, it appears that this amendment is of great benefit for foreigners because, previousely, they had high costs concerning travel or stay in Serbia while waiting for their request to be approved, without the right to work.
Employee mobility is evidently changing how the modern workforce is functioning and that more businesses have gone global. Employees today are commonly asked to take assignments in company locations away from home sometimes even in another country.
The practice has shown that, since the Law on Employment of Foreigners has been implemented, there is a strong interest of employers to enable a foreigner to start work as soon as possible.
Novelties introduced by the amendments to the domestic regulations have had a great impact on the improvement of the business climate in Serbia. With the introduction of simpler and faster procedures, foreigners coming to work in Serbia were provided with more appropriate treatment, which certainly had an impact on the more positive attitude that these persons have today towards the domestic administration.
These changes also had an impact on the better positioning of the Republic of Serbia in the labor market, especially when it comes to hiring highly qualified staff.
Are you also considering the possibility of investing in the Republic of Serbia? If so, we have prepared for you 14 reasons why Serbia is a great destination for your business.