How to get a work permit in Serbia?

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Foreign nationals who come to Serbia with the intention of getting a job or performing an activity independently, either as entrepreneurs/sole proprietors, freelancers or founders of some form of a legal entity, need a work permit in order to be able to work legally in Serbia. Although it may not seem like a country with a lot of immigrants, a work permit in Serbia is not easy to obtain. The agency responsible for issuing work permits in Serbia is the National Employment Agency. Although the application for obtaining a temporary residence permit in Serbia can be submitted online, the application for the issuance of a work permit in Serbia cannot be applied online. Obtaining a work permit for foreign immigrants is the final stage in the process of settling in Serbia, which follows after obtaining approval for temporary residence. It is important to emphasize that this blog does not refer to citizens of EU countries, who have easier access to employment in Serbia, but to citizens of third countries. If a foreign national is required to obtain a visa for a longer stay in Serbia, before entering Serbia and applying for a work permit in Serbia, the type of visa required for such a foreign national is a D visa.

There are several types of work permits. Those are:

  • personal work permit for foreigners
  • work permit for employment
  • work permit for referred persons
  • work permit for movement within the company
  • work permit for an independent professional
  • work permit for training and development
  • work permit for self-employment

Work permit in Serbia - employment and work permit for self-employment

There are two most common types of work permits. Those are:

  • Work permit in Serbia for self-employment - A work permit for self-employment is issued for a period not longer than the period for which the temporary residence permit was granted, and for a maximum of one year, with the possibility of extension. The application for a work permit is submitted by foreigners who will perform their business activities in Serbia as entrepreneurs or who are the founders of some other form of legal entity (most often it is a limited liability company). The process for issuing a work permit begins with the submission of a request to the National Employment Agency. This type of work permit is the most common in practice, for the reason that foreigners, who intend to settle in Serbia for the purpose of performing professional activities, are most frequently registered as sole proprietors.
  • Work permit for employment in Serbia - A work permit for employment is necessary for foreigners who will be employed by an employer registered on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. It is issued at the request of the employer, in accordance with the current labour market, for which it is necessary to obtain a report from the National Employment Agency beforehand. The procedure for issuing a work permit for employment is somewhat more complicated, primarily with regard to the conditions for obtaining a temporary residence permit based on employment, and more on that will be said later in the text. Due to the complexity of obtaining a report on the local labour market, the application for a work permit, on behalf of the employer, is most often submitted by immigration lawyers. This type of work permit is also issued for a period that is not longer than the period for which the temporary residence was granted.

Process for obtaining a work permit in Serbia

The process for a work permit in Serbia for employment and self-employment includes the submission of a request (unfortunately, it cannot be applied online) - a request for a work permit, and certain documentation to the National Employment Agency. The fee that is paid for submitting a request for a work permit is RSD 14,690.00. Processing time for a work permit in Serbia is approximately one month. The amount of the fee is the same regardless of the basis on which a work permit is requested for foreigners.

1) Self-employment

A foreigner who has registered as a sole proprietorship or who has established a company - most often LLC, after obtaining a temporary residence permit in Serbia on that basis, may apply for a work permit for self-employment. The documents for a work permit that is necessary for submitting a request are a foreigner's passport, a temporary residence permit, a statement on the type, duration and scope of the activities that he or she wants to engage in, confirmation that the foreigner has the appropriate qualifications to perform a specific activity and the legal basis for use of space in which the activity is carried out (e.g. lease agreement). The approximate processing time for obtaining a work permit in Serbia for self-employment is from 2 to 4 weeks.

2) Employment

The procedure for obtaining a work permit for employment is somewhat more complicated than the previously mentioned work permit for self-employment. In order for a foreigner to be able to conclude an employment contract with an employer registered in Serbia, it is necessary to conduct a labour market test. What is a labour market test? The procedure is as follows: The employer submits a form stating the need for employment to the National Employment Agency. That form contains information about the employer, information about the position for which the foreigner is planning to be hired - job title and description, place of work and other relevant information. This form is submitted in order for the agency responsible for work permits to check whether there are Serbian citizens or other foreigners who are already legally residing in Serbia, and who are suitable for performing the duties of the workplace for which the employer intends to hire a foreigner. It takes at least 10 days to receive a report on the labour market. After concluding the employment contract, a request for approval of temporary residence in Serbia is submitted. After an approved temporary residence, a foreigner can apply for a work permit. Some of the documents necessary to obtain a work permit for employment are a decision on the employer's registration in the business registry, a foreigner's passport, a proposal for an employment contract and other documents prepared by the applicant and her/his attorney.

Processing time for a work permit in Serbia

The approximate processing time for a work permit in Serbia is from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the location, and the number of requests.

Extension of work permit

After the expiration of the period for which the work permit was issued, it is possible to extend the work permit for foreigners. The work permit is extended if, at the time of submitting the application for the extension, the conditions that were necessary for its issuance were met. The request for the extension of the work permit is submitted no earlier than 30 days, and no later than before the expiration of the previous permit.

Personal work permit in Serbia

Another type of work permit that might be useful to mention, although not as widespread as work permits for employment and self-employment, is the personal work permit. What makes it distinctive is that it is intended for special groups of foreigners. Namely, a personal work permit can be obtained by foreigners: 1) who have been approved for permanent residence, 2) who have refugee status, and 3) who belong to a special category of foreigners.

Attorney for a work permit in Serbia

Immigrating to a foreign country is a very important decision for every individual, and arranging legal residence and work in it can seem like an exhausting process, along with all the other relocation obligations that await a foreign citizen. However, with the right agent, this entire process can only take a few hours of your time. Law office Pekić has a lot of experience and satisfied immigrants who have become and have remained our clients since. If you want to submit an application for a work permit in Serbia or if you are interested in the cost of submitting an application for a work permit charged by the Pekić law office, write to us at pekic@attorney.rs or via Facebook messenger.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What does a work permit look like?

The work permit in Serbia is issued on ordinary paper of A4 format, on which it is titled that it is a work permit and which contains information about the foreigner and the decision by which the work permit was issued.

2. Work permit documents in Serbia

The specific work permit documents in Serbia depend on the type of work permit requested. A work permit for employment includes a report on the labour market test, while a work permit for self-employment does not include this document. Specific documents are listed in the text.

3. How much does a work permit cost?

The amount of fee for the work permit in Serbia is 14,690.00 dinars, as of the date of writing this text.

4. Do I need a work permit in Serbia?
Foreign nationals who are going to work on the territory of Serbia are required to obtain a work permit, regardless of the grounds.

5. Can you immigrate to Serbia?
Foreign citizens who, based on Serbia visa requirements, do not need a visa to immigrate to Serbia can stay in Serbia for up to 30 or 90 days. If these immigrants want to stay in Serbia for a longer period, they must submit a request for temporary residence. However, immigrants from countries with which Serbia does not have a visa-free regime to immigrate must meet additional conditions, which are different depending on the country they are coming from. To check the conditions necessary for immigration to Serbia, visit the website https://www.mfa.gov.rs/en/citizens/travel-serbia/visa-regime.

6. Is it easy to immigrate to Serbia?
There are various reasons why foreigners decide to immigrate to Serbia. Those reasons determine the procedure and documents that must be obtained. In addition, the complexity of the procedure for immigration in Serbia also depends on the country from which the foreigner comes. When you encounter this kind of process upon arriving in a foreign country, it can seem complicated, but a Serbian immigration lawyer can help you so that this process does not take more than a few hours of your time.

7. How do I move to Serbia?
Foreigners who immigrate to Serbia with the intention to stay for a period longer than 90 days must apply for temporary residence. Temporary residence in Serbia can be granted on various grounds (eg establishment of a limited liability company) and is granted for a period of one year, with the possibility of extension. Most of the people get approved for residency in Serbia.

8. Can I settle in Serbia?
Immigrants can permanently settle in Serbia by applying for permanent residence. Permanent residence is a permit for a long-term stay of a foreign citizen in the Republic of Serbia. The request can be submitted if the immigrant has continuously resided in Serbia for more than 5 years based on temporary residence.