Adoption of the Changes to the Law on Foreigners and Law on Employment of Foreigners

The Government of the Republic of Serbia has adopted the proposed amendments to the existing Laws on Foreigners and Employment of Foreigners during the session convened on July 27th, 2023.

  • Unification of two procedures

The adopted amendments to both Laws unify the two procedures – procedure for obtaining the temporary residence permit and procedure for obtaining the work permit on the legal basis of the employment (employment agreement, self-employment, relocations within a single company and secondment) and professional specialization and development.

From now on, the foreigner my apply for the issuance of the “unified permit” based on which the foreigner will have the right to legally reside and work in Serbia.

The procedure for the issuance of the “unified permit” shall be conducted solely before the competent Administration for foreigners (hereinafter: AFF), which practically means that all documents required for obtaining temporary residence permit, as well as work permit shall be submitted to the AFF, after which the AFF will, in direct communication with the competent National employment service (hereinafter: NES) also collect the consent for approval of work permit.

The procedure for issuing “unified permit” may be initiated by the foreigner, foreigner’s employer, or other authorized person. Foreigner’s residence and work in Serbia during the whole procedure will be considered legal.

Unified Permit

Form of temporary residence permit and “unified permit” – The form of both the temporary residence permit and the “unified permit” will be in the shape of a card, containing essential personal information of the foreigner. For individuals who fulfill the criteria for obtaining either the temporary residence permit or the “unified permit”, their physical presence is obligatory at AFF for the purpose of capturing personal biometric data, similar to the process employed when obtaining an ID card.

The amendments to both Laws explicitly stipulate that all requests (for “unified permits”, temporary residence permits, and work permits) shall be submitted to the competent authorities solely online.

  • Deadline for extension of the temporary residence permit

The requests for extension can be submitted 3 months before expiry, and at the latest until the day the temporary residence permit expires. This is the new rule which aims to eliminate the risk of breaking through the deadline for extension and minimizes the risk for misdemeanor.

  • Extended duration of the temporary residence permit and “unified permit”

Extended from one year to maximum three years.

  • The condition for the approval of the permanent residence

The period of continuous residence is shortened from five to three years.

  • Increased amount of penalties for the misdemeanor of illegal stay in the Republic of Serbia.
  • Shortened deadlines for conducting the labor market test.

The competent NES is required to provide the report on the labor market test within four days, as opposed to the previous ten days. The request for the labor market test forms an integral part of the application for the “unified permit” and shall be submitted electronically in accordance with the stipulated requirements.

  • The required documentation for the NES to make an evaluation in order to give consent for issuance of “unified permit” is amended/extended.

For secondment, the employer and foreign employer must have a cooperation agreement. The foreign employee must have at least one year of employment with the foreign employer. An act between the Serbian and foreign employer must define the work conditions, wages, labor time, annual leave, safety, and health conditions. The NES assessment for secondment is valid for up to three years and can be extended for an additional three years, except for the Social Security Agreement between Serbia and China and similar.

For relocation within a single company as a manager or specialist, the position criteria are precisely defined. An act on referral to temporary work in Serbia must outline the work conditions, wages, working hours, annual leave, safety, and health conditions. The foreign employee must return to the foreign employer after the temporary assignment. The NES assessment for relocation is valid for up to three years and can be extended for an additional three years, except for the agreement between Serbia and China.

Effective February 1st, 2024, the regulations governing the process of obtaining the “unified permit” and the issuance of the “unified permit,” permanent residence, as well as the format for the temporary residence permit will be implemented and enforced.

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