MEPs endorse update of rules on single residence and work permit for non-EU nationals

The European Parliament voted on March 13 to back more effective European Union rules for combined work and residence permits for third-country, meaning non-EU, nationals.

This is being done through an update of the Single permit directive, adopted in 2011, which established a single administrative procedure for delivering a permit to third-country nationals wanting to live and work in an EU country, and a common set of rights for third-country workers.

In negotiations, MEPs succeeded in setting a 90-day limit for a decision to be taken on applications for a single permit, compared to the current four months.

Procedures on especially complex files might get a 30-day extension and the time to deliver a visa, if necessary, is not included.

New rules will introduce the possibility for a holder of a valid residence permit to apply for a Single Permit also from within the territory, so a person who is legally residing in the EU could request to change their legal status without having to return to their home country.

Under the new rules, single permit holders will have the right to change employer, occupation and work sector. MEPs ensured in negotiations that a simple notification from the new employer would suffice. National authorities will have 45 days to oppose the change. MEPs have also limited the conditions under which this authorisation can be subject to labour market tests.

EU states will have the option to require an initial period of up to six months during which a change of employer will not be possible. However, a change during that period would still be possible if the employer seriously breaches the work contract, for example by imposing particularly exploitative working conditions.

If a single permit holder is unemployed, they will have up to three months – or six if they have had the permit for more than two years – to find another job before their permit is withdrawn, compared to two months under the current rules. EU states may choose to offer longer periods.

If a worker has experienced particularly exploitative working conditions, EU member states shall extend by three months the period of unemployment during which the single permit remains valid.

If a single permit holder is unemployed for more than three months, EU member states may require them to provide evidence that they have sufficient resources to support themselves without using the social assistance system.

The new rules have to now formally be approved by the Council of the EU. EU countries will have two years after the entry into force of the directive to introduce the changes to their national laws. This legislation does not apply in Denmark and Ireland.

(Photo: Council of the EU)

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