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Making the EU more attractive to foreign students and researchers

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee has proposed a number of amendments to rules drafted by the European Commission that aim to provide better working and living conditions for non-EU students, researchers, trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.

According to the Commission, each year Europe spends 0.8% of GDP less than the US and 1.5% less than Japan on Research and Development (R&D) and many of the best researchers and innovators are moving to countries where they get better conditions. It is hoped that this update of current EU rules would introduce fairer conditions and make the EU more attractive to third-country nationals seeking research or training opportunities.

The proposals include:

  • After finishing their research or studies, third-country nationals should be entitled to stay in the member state where they studied or did their research for one and a half years in order to look for work or set up a firm. The Commission had proposed that this period be limited to one year.
  • Member states may require the payment of fees for handling applications. However, these fees should not be so excessive or disproportionate as to hinder the aims of this legislation. If fees are paid by the person concerned, he/she should be reimbursed by the host entity or the host family.
  • MEPs suggest a 30-day deadline (compared to the 60 days proposed by the Commission) for member states to accept or refuse applications. They also added a 30-day deadline for deciding on an appeal against a refusal.
  • MEPs back the Commission’s proposal to grant foreign researchers and students the right to work, although member states could set certain limits to this. Researchers would be allowed to teach and students would be allowed to do paid jobs, but only outside their study time. Researchers’ and students’ family members would also have the right to join their relatives and work in the same member state.
  • Under the Commission’s proposal, researchers, students and trainees would have the right to move between member states. MEPs propose to extend this right to volunteers as a general rule.

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