EU discusses simplifying residence permits procedures

European Union flag.
European Union flag. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The European Union is planning to update two directives making it easier for foreigners to be able to change jobs and be temporarily unemployed, an official from Estonia's Ministry of Interior said.

The EU wants to simplify and harmonize the issuance of residence permits across the block.

It is planned to change two directives that are over 10 years old, said Harry Kattai, adviser in the department of citizenship and migration policy at the Ministry of the Interior. This should reduce bureaucracy.

One example, according to the EU's proposal, is that it would be easier for foreigners to change jobs.

"Each time they change employer, they would not need to apply for a new residence permit to work. This would be a simplification of the process," Kattai said.

It would also allow permit holders to be unemployed for up to three months.

"Being unemployed is made with the assumption that it could take some time to change employer, to allow for a short period of being unemployed until he or she can get his or her processes and paperwork in order and starts a new job," said Kattai.

He said this could affect approximately 2,000 people in Estonia.

Additionally, discussions are ongoing about reducing the length of time required to apply for long-term residency permits.

It has been proposed to offer a long-term residency permit to people who have lived anywhere in the European Union for five years, and for only two years in the member state where the application is submitted.

"But here, there are hesitations about whether or not a person will be able to integrate sufficiently within two years, in labor market measures," said Kattai

It is not yet clear what members states will agree on, Kattai said. It could take two more years to change the directives.


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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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