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MEPs endorse new residence and work permit rules for third-country nationals

The European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg voted on new EU rules for combined work and residence permits for third-country nationals.

The new rules introduce a faster application process and further possibilities for single licence holders. The updated legislation was adopted with 465 votes in favour, 122 against and 27 abstentions.

The new rules set a 90-day limit for a decision to be taken on applications for a single permit, compared to the current four months, with an option for a 30-day extension. New rules will also introduce the possibility for a holder of a valid residence permit to apply for a Single Permit also from within the territory, so a person who is legally residing in the EU could request to change their legal status without having to return to their home country.

Under the new rules, single permit holders will have the right to change employer, occupation and work sector. National authorities will have 45 days to oppose the change. EU states will have the option to require an initial period of up to six months during which a change of employer will not be possible. However, a change during that period would still be possible if the employer seriously breaches the work contract, for example by imposing particularly exploitative working conditions.

In case of unemployment, permit holders will have up to three months – or six if they have had the permit for more than two years - to find another job before their permit is withdrawn. If a worker has experienced particularly exploitative working conditions, member states shall extend by three months the period of unemployment during which the single permit remains valid.

If a single permit holder is unemployed for more than three months, member states may require them to provide evidence that they have sufficient resources to support themselves without using the social assistance system.

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