Easier way for foreigners to regulate their status in the Republic of Serbia
In order to expedite the procedure of regulating residence permit and obtaining work permit for the foreigners, significant changes to the relevant regulations are envisaged, the introduction of which has begun in 2019, with amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreigners.
The first major novelty of the Law on Employment of Foreigners which has been implemented in practice is certainly the introduction of the possibility of obtaining a work permit on the basis of a visa D. This novelty facilitated the procedure of obtaining the work permit upon arrival in Serbia, having in mind that immediately after submitting an application for the visa D in the country the employee comes from, the employer is authorized to submit an application for a work permit.
In order to further facilitate the procedure for obtaining the necessary documents for regulating the status of foreigners in the Republic of Serbia, two significant novelties are recently envisaged in the process.
Unified request for approval / extension of the temporary residence and issuing of work permit
Article 6 of the Law on Amendments and changes to the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 31/2019) (hereinafter: the “Law on Amendments to the Law on Foreigners”) prescribes the possibility of submitting a unified request for temporary residence and work permit, in which such type of request is still presented as a prospective option, the manner of which shall be prescribed in more detail afterwards, by the competent Ministry. Specified provision is finally justified by the Rulebook on the Unified Request for Approval, i.e., Extension of Temporary Residence and Issuance of Work Permits (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 144/2020) (hereinafter: the “Rulebook on the Unified Procedure“), which was adopted on November 27, 2020, and entered into force on November 28, 2020.
The Rulebook on the Unified Procedure envisages a single request that contains both a request for obtaining a temporary residence permit and a request for the issuance of following work permit. It prescribes the appearance and content of the application form for approval / extension of temporary residence of a foreigner, with the request for a work permit, as well as the list of accompanying documentation which shall be submitted with each request, depending on the basis of residence of foreigner in the Republic of Serbia and type of working engagement.
State authority competent for receipt of the unified application is the Immigration office established within the Ministry of Interior. It shall, upon submitting request for the residence permit, automatically forward the application for a work permit electronically to the National Employment Service, which shall further facilitate the entire process of obtaining a work permit for employees.
After approving the temporary residence by the Immigration office, the issuance of the work permit for the foreigner should be much faster than the previous work permit issuance procedure, having in mind that the request for work permit has already been submitted and considered.
Electronic request for the approval of the temporary residence
A significant change in the procedure for obtaining temporary residence is also provided in Article 5 of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Foreigners, specifically the possibility of submitting a request for temporary residence electronically, which further facilitates the procedure for obtaining temporary residence by submitting the request for temporary residence electronically, from the country of origin.
The enforceability of the said provision has been long overdue, having in mind that the Law on Amendments to the Law on Foreigners should have entered into force on 1 January 2020, by which time the Minister of the Interior was obliged to issue a regulation which would prescribe in more detail the manner of submitting the request electronically.
Rulebook on detailed conditions for submitting request for temporary residence permits electronically (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 159/2020) (hereinafter: “Rulebook on submitting requests electronically“) was adopted by the competent Ministry on 30 December, 2020, i.e., almost a year from the date when the application of Article 5 of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Foreigners was supposed to start, and it will start to apply on 1 April, 2021.
In accordance with the Rulebook on submitting requests electronically, the foreigner shall receive the necessary instructions for further action, as well as notification on the course of the procedure by the competent authority – the Immigration office, after submitting the request for residence permit electronically via “eUprava” portal, on the domain “Livinginserbia” (which should be formed in the future).
The conditions for granting temporary residence shall, as before, be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If all the conditions are met, the foreigner will receive a notification in his e-mail box within the eUprava services with the date and address of the competent authority that he needs to access in person, in order to get a temporary residence sticker stamped in his/her passport.
This novelty shall enable the foreigner to obtain a temporary residence permit by only being personally present in the Immigration office once, i.e. the foreigner shall not be required to be present in the Republic of Serbia before prior approval of temporary residence.
Having in mind all the above changes, which strive to improve the already established, but also time-consuming procedures for obtaining all necessary permits for foreigners in the country, we expect that the entire process shall be simplified in the coming period, and that it shall be much faster and more efficient to get a regulated stay and work engagement of foreigners in the Republic of Serbia. In that respect, we expect that employers will no longer need almost two months to hire foreign citizens, but will be able to do so in a much shorter period of time.