On 27 July, National Assembly of Republic of Serbia has adopted the Amendments to the Law on foreigners and accompanying Amendments to the Law on employment of foreigners. These Amendments will be in force starting from 4 August 2023, while some provisions shall be applicable from 1 February 2024.
In this text, we will outline the most important changes of the current legal framework regarding residence and employment for foreigners in Serbia.
Abolition of work permits
Recently adopted amendments abolish the previous requirement for obtaining work permits for many foreigners. According to the new provisions, certain categories of foreigners will have the right to work in Serbia solely on the basis of the approved temporary residence permits. This change will apply to foreigners that possess approved residency permits on the basis of family reunion, real estate ownership, studies and many other grounds stipulated in the Law. The expectation is that this change will equalize opportunities in the job market between foreigners and Serbian citizens.
Introduction of "unique" permits
For the other foreigners that shall still need to obtain work permits, like foreigners who immigrated to Serbia mainly for work purposes and those who attend residency or internship, modified Law on foreigners now introduces joint request for temporary residence permit and work permit, that can be filed only electronically. While a joint request for both temporary residence permit and work permit could also be filed under the previous regime, from 2024 there will not be an option to separately file these requests. The idea is that the foreigners will now possess only one “unique” permit – biometric card that will allow them to both work and reside in Serbia.
The competent authority for administering this joint request is the police administration, which will cooperate with National Employment Service and render a unique permit within 15 days upon application. The unique permit issued in this procedure can be used as an electronic signature for foreigners and its duration is now increased for the period of up to 3 years.
Additionally, work permits will not be necessary for foreigners that have permanent residence in Serbia – which is a very welcome change for many foreigners that reside in Serbia for years that will help their integration into Serbian society.
One of the biggest change regarding the rules regulating permanent residence is the change in timeframe needed for obtaining the permanent residence permit from 5 years to only 3 years.
The Law on foreigners also stipulates that certain categories of foreigners can obtain permanent residence without fulfillment of condition requiring a 3 year stay. This simplified procedure relates to foreigners of Serbian descent and those are descended from Republic of Serbia, as well as the minor children of foreigners who already have permanent residence permit in Serbia.
Lastly, Law on foreigners now stipulates that all foreigners that reside in Serbia permanently shall be issued a personal ID card for foreigners. This ID card was previously only necessary for foreigners without valid passport, but now every foreigner shall have to obtain one.
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