Foreigner residence in Serbia

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Foreigner rights in the Republic of Serbia are regulated by the Law on Foreigners. A foreigner is any person who does not have the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia. Foreigners can stay in the Republic of Serbia on at least one of possible four grounds:

– short-term stay or stay up to 90 days
– stay on the basis of a visa for a longer stay lasting from 90 to 180 days
– temporary residence
– permanent residence

What is a White Card?

A foreigner is obligated to report his/her stay with the local police administration, according to the place of accommodation, within 24 hours from the arrival. Same obligation follows in case of changing the address during the stay. The local police department will upon registration issue a so-called “White card” which is an official confirmation that a foreigner had registered his stay with the authorities. This document should be held along with one’s passport at all times during the stay in Serbia.

However, if the foreigner stays with a legal entity, entrepreneur or a person who provides accommodation services for a fee (hotels, BnB, private landlords, etc.), then it is host’s obligation to report the foreigner’s stay to the police administration within 24 hours of providing accommodation services.

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Is visa required to enter the Republic of Serbia?

An international agreement or a government decision may stipulate that citizens of certain countries may enter the Republic of Serbia without a visa. Therefore, in each specific case, it is necessary to check whether a visa is required to enter the Republic or not. A foreigner who does not need a visa enter the Republic of Serbia, may stay in country for up to 90 days in a period of 180 days, counting from the day of the first entry, unless otherwise provided by an international agreement (or government decision).

An international agreement may stipulate that it is possible for citizens of certain countries to stay without a visa for a certain period of time. If a foreigner intends to stay longer than this visa-free period, a visa D or temporary residence permit must be obtained for further stay.

For example, for Hong Kong SAR passport holders, the visa-free regime is valid for 14 days, for China the visa-free regime is valid for 30 days, while India passport holders can stay 30 days in the period of one year.

What types of visas are there?

A visa is an official document that allows the bearer to legally enter a foreign country. The visa is usually stamped into the bearer’s passport. There are several different types of visas, each of which afford the bearer different rights in the host country.

Types of visas are:

– airport transit visa (visa A)
– visa for short (short-term) stay (visa C) up to 90 days in any period of 180 days,          counting from the day of first entry,
– visa for longer stay (visa D) lasting from 90 to 180 days

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How to get a visa-D, for a longer stay?

A Foreigner who, in accordance with the foreigners entry regime, needs a visa to enter Republic of Serbia and who intends to apply for a temporary residence permit, must obtain a visa for a longer stay (visa D).

If a foreigner has been issued a visa for a longer stay (visa D) for the purpose of employment, the foreigner has a right to employment, in accordance with the Law on Employment of Foreigners. In other words, a foreigner could submit an application for a work permit. If the business engagement in the Republic of Serbia lasts longer than the validity of the visa D, the foreigner can apply for a temporary residence permit before the expiration of the Visa D.

Visa is issued by the diplomatic-consular mission (i.e. the embassy) of the Republic of Serbia. The procedure and the necessary documentation are regulated by the Law on Foreigners.

How to get a temporary residence?

A foreigner who legally entered the Republic of Serbia and does not need a visa to enter, as well as a foreigner who entered the Republic of Serbia with a visa for a longer stay, and is legally staying in the Republic of Serbia, can apply for temporary residence.

An international agreement or a Government Decision may stipulate that citizens of certain countries, for which there is a visa-free regime only for a certain period upon entry, must first obtain a D visa, after which they acquire the right to apply for temporary residence.

When can temporary residence be granted?

In the Republic of Serbia, there are several grounds on which a temporary residence can be granted to a foreigner:

1. employment or establishment of a company
2. education
3. participation in international exchange programs for students
4. professional specializations, trainings and practices
5. scientific research work or other scientific educational activities
6. family reunification
7. performing religious services
8. treatment or care
9. ownership of real estate
10. humanitarian stay
12. status of the presumed victim of trafficking
13. victim of trafficking
14. other justified reasons in accordance with the law

A foreigner who is granted a temporary residence on any of the above grounds is obligated to stay in the Republic of Serbia on those grounds.

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What documentation is required?

Regardless of the basis for a temporary residence, the foreigner submits:

– valid passport,
– proof of means of subsistence during the planned stay (funds on domestic bank      account),
– registration of residential address in the Republic of Serbia,
– proof of health insurance during the planned stay (must be valid in Serbia),
– stated reasons and justifications for residence in Serbia,
– administrative fee’s.

Depending on the basis of the stay, it will be necessary to submit additional documentation, which is why we advise you to consult a lawyer who can provide legal assistance in the field of immigration law in each special case.

How long can a temporary residence last?

Temporary residence may be granted for up to one year and may be extended depending on the grounds of residence and the existence of reasons for which temporary residence is granted.

When can permanent residence be granted?

Permanent residence is a permit for a long-term stay of a foreign citizen in the Republic of Serbia.

At the time of submitting the application for approval of permanent residence, the foreigner must have been granted temporary residence.

Permanent residence will be granted to a foreigner if stayed in the Republic of Serbia continuously for more than five years on the basis of a temporary residence permit and who had submitted required documentation that is otherwise submitted for temporary residence.

Permanent residence will also be granted to a foreigner:

– who is on the territory of the Republic of Serbia in a marital or extramarital union with a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or a foreigner who has been granted permanent residence, and who has spent at least three years on an approved temporary residence on the basis of family unification.

– to a minor on temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, if one of the parents is a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or a foreigner who has been granted permanent residence,

– who originates from the Republic of Serbia,

– to another foreigner who has been granted temporary residence, if it is required by the reasons of humanity or it is of interest to the Republic of Serbia.

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If you are a foreigner and want to have residency in the Republic of Serbia, all the above information can serve as initial and elementary information. We advise you to contact a lawyer which has experience in the field of immigration law for further consultation and legal services in the application process.

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