31 Jul 2023

Serbia Eases Conditions for Foreigners’ Residence and Work

Serbia is opening its doors wider to foreign workers due to several factors.  The qualified labor shortages, technological and economic growth, and the effects of globalization have made it essential to simplify and facilitate the residence and work procedures for foreigners in Serbia.  Recognizing this need, last winter Serbia began drafting amendments to three foundational immigration laws: the Foreigners Act, the Foreigners’ Employment Act, and the Citizenship Act.

Two of these, he amendments to the Foreigners Act and the Foreigners’ Employment Act, have been adopted by the National Assembly.  These changes aim to provide a more streamlined and appealing environment for foreign individuals seeking employment and residence in the country.

Key Changes

Single Permit for Residence and Work

A notable change involves the introduction of a single integrated permit for both temporary residence and work authorization.  This significant shift simplifies the process by allowing foreigners to apply for one permit online that seamlessly combining residence and work rights.  The Ministry of Interior is required to render a decision within 15 days of the application, making the process more efficient and eliminating redundant procedures.

Extended Duration for Temporary Residence

The maximum duration for temporary residence permits has been extended to three years, eliminating the previous one-year limit.  Renewals can be requested before the permit expires, offering more flexibility.  Additionally, specific categories of foreigners, such as those seeking employment-based residency, will no longer need to provide evidence of financial support or health insurance during their stay.

Easier Employment Conditions

Certain foreigners will be allowed to work in Serbia without a distinct work permit.  This change includes individuals with temporary residence permits based on property ownership, family reunification, studies, scientific research, and international student exchange, which was disputable based on interpretations of different administrative bodies.

Biometric Documents and Digitalization

Biometric documents will replace traditional permits and stickers, enhancing security and ease of use.  Foreigners can access administrative services through an online portal, which also facilitates obtaining an electronic signature.  The entire application process, including labor market testing, will also be conducted online, fostering efficiency and accessibility.

Permanent Residency and Flexible Conditions

The requirement for obtaining permanent residency is shortened to three years of continuous stay in Serbia, down from the prior five years.  A foreign citizen’s Serbian origins can also qualify them for permanent residency without a mandatory period of stay.  Holders of permanent residency will be free to work in Serbia without a separate work permit.

Most of these amendments are effective immediately, save for the ones requiring further bylaws and organizational preparations (such as the single permit and biometric documents), which will become effective as of February 1, 2024.


The forward-thinking amendments to Serbia’s immigration laws reflect a commitment to attracting a diverse and skilled foreign workforce while simplifying bureaucratic processes.  As Serbia positions itself as an attractive destination for individuals seeking professional growth, the nation stands poised to embrace the benefits of a globalized workforce while ensuring fair treatment and a supportive framework for its international residents.

At the same time, the amendments to the Citizenship Act are still in the adoption process.  Set to introduce significantly more relaxed conditions for attaining Serbian citizenship, the current proposal being just one year of temporary residence, the implication of these amendments might resonate beyond Serbian borders given Serbia’s Schengen and EU Candidate status, which has garnered the EU’s attention.  We will closely observe the developments concerning the Citizenship Act Amendments Proposal and keep our readers posted.



Miloš Petaković