What does the term “work permit” in Serbia mean?

If you are a foreigner and want to work in Serbia, you need a work permit, usually called a work visa.

But what is the actual work permit? Essentially, this is a bill, a document issued by the National Employment Service (hereinafter referred to as NES) in which you can work in the Republic of Serbia. The employment of foreigners is governed by the “Foreigners Employment Law” (hereinafter referred to as “the Law”).

Sometimes the work permit is confused with the temporary residence permit. These licenses are completely different!

Temporary/permanent residence permit is a prerequisite for obtaining a work permit. In other words, work permits can be issued to foreigners who have previously been granted temporary or permanent residency. Therefore, the period of issuance of the work permit shall not exceed the period of the residence permit. Both the place of temporary residence and the place of permanent residence are governed by the Aliens Law.

Type of work permit:

  • Personal work permit;
  • Work permit.

You can only obtain one type of work permit during the same period of time-personal work permit or work permit

1) Personal work permit

A personal work permit may enable you to be employed, self-employed, and to use all the rights stipulated by the law when you are unemployed. The license can be issued to

  • Foreigners with permanent residence permits,
  • Foreigners with refugee status;
  • Foreigners who belong to the special category of foreigners.

You will notice that the work permit is related to the personal identity of the foreigner, and therefore to that identity. It is even more obvious if we know that this work permit can also be issued for family reunion purposes.

2) Work permit

Unlike personal work permits, work visas are not strictly related to the personal status of foreigners. This license can be issued for the following purposes:

  • Employment;
  • Special employment situation;
  • Self-employment.

To simplify this, let us explain the types and subtypes of work permits in Serbia

Work permit and residence permit

At this point, the logical question is: if we need temporary residency to obtain a work permit, and can we grant temporary residency based on employment, how can we combine these two procedures without wasting time?

First, when an employer wants to hire a foreigner, the employer must conduct the so-called “labor market test.” The test aims to show whether there are candidates in the Serbian labor market who meet the conditions set by the employer on the NES unemployment list. If such a profile exists, these people take precedence.

However, this does not mean that employers must hire people that NES finds when conducting labor market tests. In this case, the employer should explain in writing why the person that NES cannot find is not suitable for the company’s work. The employer’s report must show that the resumes of persons discovered by NES have been taken into account.

It is important to know that once the application for temporary residence is submitted, the test can be initiated. Moreover, once employers realize the need to hire foreigners, they can start the test. This shortens the execution time of the entire process.

If a “previous” labor market test has been conducted and a work permit is issued under the new version of the Act, the labor market test is not required in the case of an extension of the work permit.

Foreigners can only engage in activities that are permitted under a work visa. This is especially important due to inspection control.

Who can file a work permit request where?

Who? Based on our experience in practice, we think it would be useful to provide answers to this common question. That is, foreign customers often contact us to request work visas, thinking that they must submit this application as future employees. However, it is important to know that the work permit is issued at the request of the employer and not the (foreign) employee. This is why the law requires employers to bear the cost of issuance of work visas. Again, this is why NES insists that employers only pay the application fee through the use of a transfer order.

Where is it? In this case, the employer should submit a request for issuance of a work permit to the employment organization located in the employer registration office (city). This means that if the employer has a registered office in Novi Sad, it should submit an application for the issuance of a work permit (employment) to the NES organization unit in Novi Sad. .

For self-employed and independent professionals, the request is submitted to the organizational unit of NES based on the work location.

Finally, regarding the personal work permit, the application is submitted to the organization unit of the NES according to the location of the foreigner’s temporary or permanent residence and upon its request.

Finally, we must emphasize that the type of work permit determines the process. Therefore, the first question to enter the process of obtaining a work visa is: which work permit is right for me?

Employer’s obligations

Employers are obliged to register compulsory social security for foreign employees;
Due to technical, economic or organizational changes, employers are required not to dismiss employees in jobs requiring work visas;
They cannot find Serbian citizens or foreign citizens with personal work permits (of course, these people need to enter the labor market freely and have the required qualifications);
The employer must submit an employment agreement or another contract to exercise work-related rights;
Employers are not allowed to send foreign national employees who have obtained work visas to work for another employer;
Bear the cost of issuing work permits.

Employment for EU citizens

Why should you be careful about this problem? In other words, when you read Article 5 of the law, you will find that EU citizens have the right to freely enter the Serbian labor market. This will certainly lead to the conclusion that EU citizens are not obliged to obtain a work permit to work in Serbia. But when you talk about the final clauses and Article 41, you will see that when Serbia becomes part of the European Union, Articles 5 to 8 will apply. Before that, its citizens must obtain work permits under the same conditions as citizens of other countries.

Frequently asked questions

1) Does the manager (foreigner) of the company have a work permit?

The answer to this question depends on whether the foreign nationality manager will stay in Serbia for more than 90 days within six months. Similarly, it is important to “hiring” the manager in the position under the Employment Agreement or as a manager, that is, not forming an employment relationship (in this case, the company and the directors are contracting each other’s rights and obligations). According to the law, a manager (ie a representative of a company registered in Serbia) does not need a work permit when the following requirements are met:

Within six months, the manager’s residence time in Serbia shall not exceed 90 days;
The manager will not be hired by the company.
If the manager will work in the company, the answer is clear-they need a work permit.

Let’s try to simplify the understanding of the process. Well, we know that if a foreigner wants to stay in Serbia for more than 90 days in a six-month period, a temporary residence permit is required. If the manager plans to live in Serbia for 20 days within six months, they are not eligible for a temporary residence permit. If managers do not obtain temporary residency, they will certainly not be able to obtain work permits. The calculation is simple: no temporary residence permit-no work permit.

2) Do the company’s shareholders (foreign nationals) have work permits?

Again, it depends on whether the shareholders will engage in commercial activities and establish jobs. If so, a work permit is required. Of course, the same conditions are required for residence time in Serbia.

What are the interesting changes brought about by the amendment of the decree?

Although there are several important changes, we want to highlight one change, which we think is very attractive to foreigners who plan to start business in Serbia and bring their own employees. For example, if you have a company abroad, but you want to establish a branch in Serbia and want your employees to work for you in Serbia, the law now provides for this possibility. This is because the term “employer” now has a broader meaning. Now, it includes (except domestically) foreign legal or natural persons registered for activities in Serbia, as well as branches and representative offices of foreign employers.

We hope this blog can help you better understand the concept of a work permit and the entire process of obtaining a permit. However, please note that the above content cannot be considered legal advice. This is why we recommend that you consult a professional lawyer in this field. In this way, you will prevent any errors in the process of obtaining a work permit.

Tagged Serbian work, Serbian work permit, Serbian immigration, Immigration to Serbia

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