Residence permit

Easier procedures to obtain a residence permit?! Recently, law no. 79/2021 “On foreigners” is approved. Consequently, law no. 108/2013, in other words the old law, has been repealed. The new law, in theory, has brought a series of innovations that consist mainly in changing the format of the residence permit and also some conditions of the residence permit and work permit are changed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key innovations.

1. Unique Permits

The main innovation is the fact that with the adoption of the new law, foreigners can be provided with a unique permit.

But what is a unique permit?

Until today, a foreigner living and working in the Republic of Albania had to obtain a residence permit and a work permit. With the adoption of the new law there is no need to spend time at two different counters as both permits will be incorporated in what is called a Unique Permit.

The application for the unique permit is made at the Regional Directorate for Border and Migration where the activity takes place. The Regional Directorate for Border and Migration can issue the unique permit only after obtaining the approval of the National Employment and Skills Agency.

The following persons are exempt from the obligation to obtain the approval of the National Employment and Skills Agency (AKPA):

  •  foreigners who are a family member of a foreign citizen with legal residence permit in Albania,
  •  students,
  •  foreigners who are exempted from the obligation to have an approval for employment,
  • self-employed, investors, Au pairs,
  • foreigners with the status of a potential victim of human trafficking,
  • refugees,
  • foreigners with temporary protection and foreigners with the status of supplementary protection.

Now, the types of work permits for which you previously had to apply separately are incorporated in a unique permit which means that the following types of residence permits have been added:

  • Digital nomad residence permit
  • Unique permit for contracting services
  • Unique permit for transferred employers within the enterprise (TBN)
  • Unique permit as a cross-border worker
  • Unique permit for vocational training
  • Unique permit for athletes

For the above categories it is no longer necessary to apply for both a work permit and a residence permit. Making a single application for a unique permit is enough and in a short time they can practice their profession and live in Albania legally. It is clear how the new law aims to facilitate procedures for foreigners.

Regardless of the situation and developments in the labor market and without other restrictions this group of foreigners have priority in issuing a unique permit:

  • Foreigners who are married to an Albanian citizen;
  • Are employed in the framework of the implementation of international or intergovernmental agreements,
  • Have completed a vocational high school or have completed a study program at a higher education institution, recognized in the Republic of Albania;
  • Have come to Albania for vocational training;
  • Have the status of transferee within the enterprise;
  • Qualified as “highly qualified” employees;
  • Digital nomad employees.

2. New types of residence permits

residence permit

In addition to the Unique Permits, which as we saw above eliminate a series of procedures to make the stay of foreigners in the Republic of Albania legal, some new types of residence permits have been added. These new types have as main goal the provision of residence permits of different categories which previously could not have residence permits in Albania.

Some of them are:

  • Temporary residence permit for the use of Real Estate properties
  • Residence permit for pensioners
  • Residence permit as au pairs, which is issued in cases when the foreigner comes to Albania through an agreement with a host family, mainly for study purposes. The residence permit for this category is issued as long as the agreement between au pairs and the host family lasts but not more than 1 year.
  • Residence permit for stateless persons is issued to those persons who have stayed 1 year in Albania before applying to be provided with this type of permit.
  • Autonomous residence permit is issued to foreigners who have stayed in the territory of Albania for 5 years with a residence permit for family reunification. The foreigner enjoys the right to obtain an autonomous residence permit even in cases when the marriage has been dissolved without reaching 5 years from the receipt of the first residence permit when the reason for the dissolution of this marriage is domestic violence or gender-based violence.
  • Upon completion of research or studies, foreign researchers and students have the opportunity to stay in the territory of the Republic of Albania on the basis of a temporary residence permit for a period of at least nine months, in order to seek work or develop a business.
  • The foreigner, his family members and his key staff are provided with a permanent residence permit, but not more than 5 persons with an indefinite employment contract, if he has made an investment in the Republic of Albania in strategic sectors, in value and in employment according to provisions of the legislation on strategic investments. This is a motive through which foreigners can obtain a permanent residence permit without having to fulfill the 5-year period of stay in the Republic of Albania.

3. Other innovations

In addition to the changes mentioned above, the new law has brought a series of other facilities in terms of obtaining a residence permit for foreigners.

Among the facilities created is the fact that citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, the United States of America and citizens of European Union member states will receive a 5-year residence permit when applying for the first time when they meet the general criteria for obtaining of temporary residence permit.

In the case of foreigners provided with a residence permit for family reunification, in addition to the fact that they can already obtain an autonomous permit under the conditions mentioned above, they can pursue an economic activity without first obtaining the approval of the AKPA, unless there is a law prohibiting it. This right is noted in the residence permit for family reunification.

In case the invitee does not provide the foreigner with accommodation during the stay in Albania, his return to the country of origin or if he does not cover the costs of return to the destination country when a departure order has been issued for the foreigner then the invitee is in conditions of administrative violation and will be fined.

It is worth mentioning that among the innovations that are important are the technical ones. It is worth mentioning the fact that the new law has removed the 60-day deadline for reviewing the request for equipment or renewal of the residence permit, which means that with the adoption of the new law there is no deadline for when the residence permit can be approved. This in itself is a big disadvantage as we remember here that foreigners will already be provided with biometric cards. Equipping with these cards, in practice, has shown us that it is a long and complicated process and the lack of a deadline when a foreigner can obtain a residence permit creates a situation of insecurity for the foreigner and also a situation with which can be easily abused because the approval of the residence permit could last in unreasonable and inconvenient deadlines

In addition to the disadvantage mentioned above, it is worth mentioning that the changes brought by the new law aim the advantages where we can mention the extension of the deadline of the residence permit for victims of trafficking from 3 months to 1 year or the fact that the document “permanent residence permit” is replaced every 10 years with an automatic approval procedure and not once in 7 years as it was in the old law.

If the residence permit is lost, damaged or becomes invalid, the foreigner has the obligation to notify in writing the state authority of border and migration which must provide the foreigner with duplicates.

These are among the most important changes that the new law has brought. However, it remains to be seen how this law will be implemented and what will be its effects in practice as this law changes an important part of the procedure for obtaining a residence permit.

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