What are the implications of the recently announced amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreigners?

Proposals for amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreign Citizens to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia

These proposed amendments are aimed at simplifying the process for obtaining temporary residence permits and work permits for foreign citizens in Serbia, which is currently considered to be an excessive administrative burden for both foreign citizens and domestic employers. The amendments also consider recent events in the world that have resulted in an increased influx of foreign citizens into Serbia in the past year.

One of the key changes proposed is the introduction of a unique permit that will cover both residence and work permits. Currently, foreign citizens are required to obtain a temporary residence permit before applying for a work permit. The proposed unique permit can be obtained based on employment, including self-employment, as well as based on professional specialization, training, and practice. The validity of the unique permit can be up to three years, depending on individual circumstances.

Another proposed amendment is that the application process for obtaining a unique permit and temporary residence will be submitted exclusively electronically via the e-Uprava portal. Currently, applications can be submitted online, but most applications are still submitted directly to the competent Immigration Office. The proposed amendment aims to speed up the process and ensure that applications are submitted in a timely manner. The Immigration Office will ex officio communicate with the National Employment Service and obtain approval if the conditions for issuing a work permit are met.

Foreign citizens will be able to apply for the renewal of temporary residence permits or a unique permit no earlier than 30 days and no later than the day of the expiry of the permit. This is a change from the current requirement to submit an application no later than 30 days before the expiry of the temporary residence permit. The proposed amendment aims to reduce the number of problems that arose in practice due to the previous requirement.

The proposed amendments also stipulate that temporary residence permits and unique permits must be issued in the form of a biometric document, which replaces the temporary residence label in the passport of a foreign citizen. Biometric data such as photo, fingerprints, and signature will be taken from all foreigners who are granted temporary residence or a unique permit. This measure aims to raise the standards related to the security aspect and control of the movement of foreign citizens on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. By issuing a biometric document to foreign citizens who have been granted temporary residence, they are equated with citizens of Serbia and will be able to use other services that citizens of Serbia have on the e-Uprava portal.

Lastly, the proposed amendments stipulate that foreign citizens who need a D visa for a longer stay of up to 180 days to perform work will be able to start working only based on the obtained Visa D, without the obligation to obtain a work permit. This change will allow foreign citizens to regulate their residence and employment status from their home country before coming to Serbia.

Overall, the proposed amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Employment of Foreign Citizens are aimed at simplifying the process of obtaining temporary residence and work permits for foreign citizens in Serbia. These amendments will also bring the Serbian legislation closer to European standards when it comes to the security of documents issued to foreign citizens. If adopted, the amendments will take effect from 01.02.2024, and state authorities will have to adopt bylaws and make technical preparations for their implementation.

For more information on residence permits and implications of these amendments on your business, feel free to contact our Employment team via office@vuliclaw.com