Despite the fact the Republic of Serbia is known for emigration of its residents, it is becoming more and more popular destination for immigration as well.

Great number of foreigners are coming to Serbia and stay in Serbia based on various grounds. Serbia immigration rate grows continuously, without taking into account foreigners in transit and foreigners who are seeking asylum.

Undoubtedly, most of the foreigners that stay in Serbia are married to the citizens of Serbia, while the other major group are foreigners who either perform their business activity in Serbia or are employed by the national and international employers who have registered businesses in Serbia.

Serbian Government has introduced numerous tax reliefs for employment of both citizens and foreigners with amendments to the Law on Personal Income Tax and Law on Social Security Contributions. It should be noted that the Serbian Government also has recently adopted Regulation1 which entered into force on February 22nd, 2020 and that regulates the criteria for residence permit for:

  • foreign founders of innovative start-ups;
  • foreign citizens with higher education degree;
  • investors in companies in Serbia.

Having in mind the importance of this Regulation for obtaining residence permit in Serbia, it deserves special attention and will be elaborated in one of our following blogs.

 

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In any event, we shall get back to clarify the foreigner’s stay and residence permit for foreigners in the Republic of Serbia. First and foremost, we should explain what legal acts govern the residence permit and stay of foreigners in Serbia.

Residence permit of foreigners on the territory of Serbia is governed by the Law on Foreigners. In addition to this law, it is important to mention the Law on Employment of Foreigners which governs conditions and procedure for engaging the foreign employees in the Republic of Serbia. However, before the foreigner even starts to work in Serbia i.e. to perform its business activities in the Republic of Serbia, it shall be granted with residence permit based on the ground stipulated by the law, which is precondition to obtaining work permit.

Law on Foreigners distinguishes between three types of stay of foreigners:

  1. Stay up to 90 days;
  2. Temporary residence;
  3. Permanent residence.

WHAT IS THE CONDITION FOR FOREIGNER TO ENTER ON THE TERITORY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA?

Before the foreigner is granted with the right to stay in Serbia, it shall be granted with the right to enter into the Republic of Serbia i.e. it shall obtain a visa.

We should point out that international treaties and Government’s decisions allow the certain foreign citizens to enter the Republic of Serbia without visa, while Government is also entitled to decide that citizens from certain countries are allowed to enter Serbia only with ID card, without using passports. The foreigner who is not required a visa or the passport to enter the Serbia is allowed to stay in Serbia for a period not exceeding 90 days during any period of 180 days starting from the day of the first entry, unless otherwise determined by the international treaty.

There are three types of visa existing in the legal system of the Republic of Serbia:

  1. Airport Transit Visa (Visa “A”);
  2. Short-Term Visa (Visa “C”) – permission to enter the Republic of Serbia, transit over the territory of the Republic of Serbia or stay on the territory of the Republic of Serbia for a period not exceeding 90 days during any period of 180 days starting from the day of the first entry. It shall be issued for single, double or multiple entries into the Republic of Serbia;
  3. Long-Term Visa (Visa “D”) – permission to enter and stay on the territory of the Republic of Serbia between 90 and 180 days in order to apply for and obtain temporary residence permit.

WHAT DOES THE “STAY UP TO 90 DAYS” REPRESENTS?

Stay of a foreigner in Serbia up to 90 days is stay without visa for a period not exceeding 90 days during any period of 180 days starting from the day of the first entry (unless otherwise determined in an international treaty), as well as stay based on the Short-Term Visa (Visa “C”).

Do I need to register the visit and stay of a foreigner to the Police Department?

YES!

Legal entities and people who provide accommodation to the foreigners for the monetary compensation and those who host foreigners in private and family visits are obliged to report and notify Police Department on such stay within the deadline of 24 hours from the moment foreigner arrives to the place of stay. In case foreigner uses the accommodation in other manner that previously mentioned, foreigner is the subject obliged to report its stay and change of the address within the same deadline.

Where and how should the stay of foreigner be registered?

Foreigner’s place of residence in Serbia shall be registered either:

  1. At the premises of the Police Department located at the place of stay of foreigner,
  2. Electronically.

WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR THE TEMPORARY RESIDENCE IN SERBIA?

Temporary residence is a residence permit that shall be granted to a foreigner who intends to stay in the Republic of Serbia for more than 90 days. All the grounds for temporary residence permit should be divided into three groups:

1. Based on the work and that is:

  • Employment;
  • Specialization, professional training and practice;
  • Performance of business activity or other professional activity (incorporation of legal entity);
  • Performing religious service.

2. Based on the education process and that is:

  • School or learning Serbian language;
  • Studies;
  • Participation in international exchange programs for pupils or students;
  • Scientific research or other scientific or educational activity.

3. Based on the personal reasons and that is:

  • Family reunion;
  • Medical treatment or care;
  • Ownership over immovable property or real estate;
  • Humanitarian reasons;
  • Status of victim of human trafficking.

Besides these explicitly stated grounds, aforementioned Regulation of the Government introduces new grounds for the temporary residence of foreigners.

Application for a temporary residence permit or the extension thereof shall be submitted personally by a foreigner to the competent authority. Application for the extension of already granted temporary residence permit shall be submitted not earlier than three months and not later than 30 days prior to the expiry of the temporary residence permit.

Temporary residence may be approved for a period of up to one year, and may be extended for the same period, depending on the grounds for stay and reasons for temporary residence. Temporary residence permit shall be granted by affixing the temporary residence sticker in the foreigner’s passport.

HOW TO OBTAIN PERMANENT RESIDENCE PERMIT?

First of all we should explain the permanent residence in Serbia.

Permanent residence is a permit for long-term stay of a foreigner in the Republic of Serbia.

 

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Foreigner shall be granted with permanent residence based on five grounds. Permanent residence shall be granted to the foreigners who:

  1. Stays continuously in the Republic of Serbia for over five years based on a temporary residence permit;
  2. Has spent at least three years on temporary residence permit on the grounds of family reunion either being married to or in civil union with a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or foreigner with permanent residence permit;
  3. Is a minor foreigner with temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, if one of the parents is a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or a foreigner with permanent residence permit;
  4. Originates from the Republic of Serbia;
  5. Has temporary residence permit, if so required by humanitarian reasons or if this is in the interest of the Republic of Serbia.

An application for permanent residence of a foreigner in the Republic of Serbia shall be decided on by the Ministry of Interior within 60 days from the day of the application and permanent residence permit shall be put into a foreigner’s passport in the form of a sticker. Also, based on the permanent residence the foreigner is entitled to the ID card for foreigners.

IS THE PROCEDURE TO OBTAIN RESIDENCE PERMIT COMPLICATED?

If you apply for stay up to 90 days, temporary residence or permanent residence permit or if you apply for visa, you have to be very patient. The information given in this article are exclusively informative, therefore it is necessary to determine in every single case whether conditions on approval of residence permit or Visa are fulfilled, as well as the timeline in which it shall be decided on the application.

Also, the speed of application process depends on each particular case, documentation which has to be submitted as well as on the officer who is deciding on application.

In order to make the entire process as easier as possible for you, to complete it as faster as possible and in order to be sure that you collected and submitted all necessary documents within the deadline, we suggest you to contact the attorney for precise and full instructions before making any such actions.

[1]Regulation on Criteria for Determining the Categories of Foreigners and Categories of Foreigners to whom Temporary Residence in the Republic of Serbia may be granted regardless of the Temporary Residence Grounds (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, no. 13/2020)

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