The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia recently adopted the new Law on Foreigners which regulates thoroughly and in detail the conditions for entry, movement, residence and return of foreigners, as well as the competences of the relevant state authorities. The main reasons for adoption of this piece of legislation are specifying certain provisions and regulating certain areas which were unregulated, all in order to implement the regulations more effectively in practice.

Key novelties

The law regulates in detail the procedure and reasons for refusing entry to a foreigner. The entry of a foreigner can now be refused by a decision based on the standardized form of refusal of entry indicating the exact reasons for refusal. In addition, the law prescribes that the issued visa is not a guarantee that a foreigner will be allowed to enter the Republic of Serbia.

Further, the law prescribes the obligation of foreigners to provide a travel document which is valid for at least 3 months after the intended date of departure from the Republic of Serbia, which contains at least 2 consecutive free blank pages and which was issued in the last 10 years. Hence, the validity period of the travel document must be at least 3 months longer than the period for which the temporary residence is granted. The law now prescribes the possibility of returning the documents and the amount of the paid fee in case of rejecting the visa application.

The law introduces an exception regarding duration of the temporary residence on the basis of employment. Namely, temporary residence on the basis of employment may be granted to a foreigner who intends to stay in Serbia shorter than 90 days, if the work permit is required in accordance with the Law on Employment of Foreigners.

The law stipulates the right of permanent residence regardless of the ground on which temporary residence was granted. In addition, for permanent residence based on the previously approved temporary residence on the ground of employment, 5 consecutive years are now required.

A foreigner to whom temporary residence has been granted is obliged to report any change of address to the Ministry of Interior within 3 days. A foreigner to whom permanent residence has been granted is obliged to report this change within 8 days.

The Law inter alia defines the illegal stay and prescribes stricter penalties for violation of its provisions.

Entry into force and application of the law

This law has entered into force on 3 April 2018, but it will start to apply 6 months later, i.e. on 3 October 2018. The respective bylaws should be adopted within 6 months after the law entered into force, and it may be expected that these secondary acts of legislation will further regulate certain provisions of the law in a more comprehensive manner.

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