“One stop” system: Unified residence and work permit in Serbia

Starting from February 1st, foreigners and employers have access to a simplified process for obtaining residence and work permits. This marks the implementation of the most notable changes to immigration laws in the Republic of Serbia over the past decade, along with the corresponding bylaws.

With amendments to the Law on foreigners and Law on employment of foreigners, individuals seeking employment in Serbia can now apply for a unified permit instead of undergoing two separate administrative proceedings before different institutions, saving both time and financial resources.

Unified permit can be issued for the following types of labor engagement of foreigners:

  1. Employment;
  2. Self-employment;
  3. Special types of employment (business technical cooperation between companies, secondment and intercompany mobility);
  4. Independent professional;
  5. Vocational training.

Request for unified permit can be submitted either by foreigner or by employer acting on behalf of foreigner, as well by third authorized person. Applications are made electronically via designated Portal for Foreigners (Portal za strance). Additionally, employers need to be pre-registered on the eGovernment portal (eUprava). All required documents must be either in the form of electronic documents or in the form of digitized copies.

Under this newly established system, employers remain responsible for conducting requests for the labor market test. Depending on the applicant (foreigner or employer), request for the labor market test is filed either through Portal za strance or eUprava, no earlier than 60 days prior to application and no later than the date of application for unified permit.

Significant change in the procedure reflects the possibility for foreigners to apply for unified permit even before they come to Serbia, as the electronically process does not require any personal presence of applicant. However, it is still unclear whether electronic signatures/certificates issued abroad would meet technical requirements of the application process.

New rules also apply for the form of permit. Rather than receiving a sticker for the residence permit in the passport and a paper-based decision for the work permit, a unified permit is now issued as a biometric ID document in the form of a card. This implies that foreigner individuals must provide biometric information (fingerprints) to the authorized police officers and personally collect the unified permit, once the card is issued.

The unified permit is issued for period of up to three years and can be extended for the same period. This also allows employers and foreign employes to enter into employment contracts for a period longer than a year, which was common under previous regulations and contributed to many issues in practice.


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