RESIDENCY AND WORK PERMIT FOR FOREIGNERS IN SERBIA
Entry visa regimes
Visa free entry up to 30 days–according to the 2008 Agreement between Russian and Serbia, there is a visa-free entry regime for up to 30 days. If this this entry free visa is to expire, a Russian citizen may exit the country for a day and return with a new 30-day visa which will be granted to him at the point of re-entry in the country.
According to Article 7 of the Agreement "The entry of citizens of one Contracting Party into the territory of the other Party for the purpose of employment is carried out on the basis of visas issued in accordance with the legislation of the country of entry.".
Visa C is issued for entry and short stay up to 90 days. According to Art. 21 of the Law on Aliens "A visa for a short stay cannot be the basis for submitting a request for a temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, unless this law provides to the contrary." In the other words, if someone has entered the country with visa C, he cannot apply for temporary residence status.
Visa D is issued for a long stay for a period of 90-180 days. Article 22 of the Law stats "An alien who, in accordance with the visa regime, needs a visa to enter the Republic of Serbia and who intends to apply for a temporary residence permit in the Republic of Serbia shall obtain a visa for a long stay." Russian citizens do not need a visa D when intended to apply for a temporary residence and work permit.
For a stay in Serbia beyond the time limit set out in the various entry visas, aliens must apply for a temporary residence. Even persons who entered the country on visa free basis should apply for a temporary residence for stays beyond the time limits set out in their visas.
For temporary residence can apply only the person who entered the country on the basis of the visa free regime or with visa D. The application is always done in Serbia. There is a possibility to apply through the eGovernement portal, but this is cumbersome and inadvisable to do.
The temporary residence is issued for a period of 1 year and it may be extended for another year, subject to the legal regulations that govern the legal ground for his stay in the country. If it is, for example, work permit, the temporary residence may be extended only for duration of the work permit.
There are various legal grounds for obtaining temporary residence (school study, medical hospitalisation etc) but here we only consider the work related stays. We also consider the immigration status of the family members of the applicants who were granted work permit.
After 5 years of temporary residence, the alien may apply for a permanent residence.
Stay based on the permission to work in Serbia
Temporary residence is a precondition for every work permit. Temporary residence is granted first (work permit can only be granted to a resident) and subsequently the work permit is issued. Approval of the temporary residence is the first step in obtaining work permit. These two applications are in fact interwoven since the temporary residence is issued with the view the alien will apply for and will be granted work permit. If the work permit is not applied or granted, the temporary residence will not be extended upon its expiry. In practice both applications are submitted and both process for granting the residence and the work permit are conducted in parallel. One is within the Ministry for interior the other within the Ministry for employment.
Permissions to work
There are two types of permissions to work in Serbia:
- Personal work permit
- Work pemit
There are 3 types of work permits
- Work permit for employment
- Work permit for special cases of employment
- Work permit for self-employment
1. Work permit for employment
This work permit is issued to the employer for employment of a particular alien person. Prior to submitting the request for work permit, the employer must search to employ local people through the National Employment Agency. If the search is unsuccessful (in practice it is almost always unsuccessful) the Agency issues a confirmation thereof on the basis of which the employer applies for a work permit. This work permit is issued for a period of maximum 1 year but it can be extended for another year as long as the duration of the temporary residence.
2. Work permit for special cases of employment
There are 4 special cases of employment:
- Secondment from a foreign company to a Serbian company
- Secondment within the same company or group of companies
- Independent professionals
- Work permit for training and development
a) Secondment from a foreign company to a Serbian company
This is a secondment between two independent companies, Serbian and foreign. The foreign company sends to the Serbian company technical or similar experts on the basis of an agreement for technical cooperation. This usually applies to situation when the foreign company is installing machinery or equipment in Serbia and it sends its technical staff to assist the local company. The seconded employee must have been in the employ of the foreign company for at least 1 year. The work permit is issued for 1 year and it can be extended for further 2 years maximum.
b) Secondment within the same company or group of companies
This is for executive secondment. A foreign company seconds an executive to work in its representative or branch office in Serbia or in its Serbian subsidiary. The condition is the seconded person must have work at some executive or key position in the foreign company for at least 1 year. The seconded person enters into Serbia on the basis of visa D. The work permit is issued for a year and can be extended for further 2 years.
c) Independent professionals
This work permit is issued to an employer or the end user of services. The person must have high education or special skills and appropriate work experience in his field of expertise. The work permit is issued for only 1 year, no further extension.
d) Work permit for training and development
This work permit covers two situations. The first one is when the local employer wants to employ a foreign expert who will provide education and training to other employees. The second situation is when a foreign apprentice wants to come to Serbia to obtain certain practical training and education. In both cases the work permit is issued to the employer for the particular employee.
3. Work permit for self-employment
This is slightly misleading title for this legal ground. It is a work permit for investment purposes. It is granted to an alien who intends to set up a company and create new employment in Serbia. One of the preconditions for this work permit is ownership over suitable business premises necessary for intended business activities.
The most frequent path to the work permit in Serbia is the work permit for employment. Occasionally, for the executives it is used the special employment case “secondment within the same company or group of companies”.
The entire process of obtaining the temporary residency and the desired work permit is cumbersome and requires lots of documentation. Some documentation must be translated and/or certified by a public notary. Other documentation must be created by the applicant or its consultant such as employment contracts, biographies of the applicants, the company employment scheme etc.
All locally produced documentation must be in Serbian but for the benefit of our clients we produce such documentation in Serbian/English or Serbian/Russian languages.
Unless in cases of the foreign company representative office or branch, the most common employer is a Serbian company. It can be a subsidiary of a foreign company or a company created by one or few foreign and/or local individuals.
The most common legal form of the local company used is a limited liability company The minimum share capital is RSD 100 (~€8,5). Depending on the intentions, a due consideration should be paid to amount of the share capital as well as other aspects of financing taking into account all needs and circumstances of the clients.
Our immigration and company registration services
SEECAP is an M&A, foreign direct investments, corporate finance, and asset finance boutique since 2001 that operates from Belgrade covering Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We provide cross-border services to a variety of international and local clients. Company registration and immigration services is a part of our corporate and foreign direct investment services.
We provide a comprehensive immigration service for businesspeople, their employees and family member such as:
- Visa service
- Temporary residence issuance and renewal
- Work permit issuance and renewal
- Permanent residence issuance
- Registered office, accounting and bookkeeping services by an accounting compan
- Provision of office space, housing accommodation and other needs
We can organise the following:
- Registration of a new company in Serbia
- Purchase of an existing company which is without assets and liabilities but with registered office, bank account, tax number etc which is immediately ready for trading and operations
- Registered office, accounting and bookkeeping services by an accounting company