Personal Immigration

Making the EU a more attractive destination

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier and more attractive for non-EU national students, researchers and other groups to enter and stay in the EU for periods exceeding three months.

New legislation will set clearer time limits for national authorities to decide on applications, provide for more opportunities to access the labour market during their stays and facilitate intra-EU movement.

Experience with the implementation of current legislation has shown that Member States were not able to fully address the difficulties that applicants face when wanting to come to the EU to study or conduct research. The Commission is now proposing to set clearer, more consistent and transparent rules across the EU. The two current Directives on Students and Researchers will be modified and replaced by a single new Directive, which will improve:

  • Procedural guarantees, in particular through a 60-day time limit for Member States' authorities to decide on an application for a visa or residence permit, which will make the application process more straightforward and transparent.
  • Intra-EU mobility and transfer of skills and knowledge. Simpler and more flexible rules will increase the possibility for researchers, students and remunerated trainees to move within the EU, which is particularly important for students and researchers enrolled in joint programmes. Family members of researchers will also be granted certain mobility rights.
  • Access to the labour market. During their studies, students will be allowed to work for a minimum of 20 hours per week so that they can support themselves adequately and contribute economically. Researchers and students will also be able to remain for a period of 12 months under certain conditions on the territory after finalisation of their studies/research to identify job opportunities or set up a business. This will not amount to an automatic right to work, as granting a work permit remains a national responsibility.

The proposed Directive which is presented in the form of a recast now needs to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The Commission hopes for the new rules to take effect as of 2016.

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