European Council Adopts New Single Permit Directive for Non-EU Workers

| April 25, 2024
European Council Adopts New Single Permit Directive for Non-EU Workers

The European Council formally approved the revised Single Permit Directive on 12 April 2024.

The Single Permit Directive allows non-European Union (EU) nationals to work and stay anywhere in the bloc with only a single permit.

“The revision provides for a shortened application procedure,” the Council stated via a press release.

It also “aims to strengthen the rights of third-country workers by allowing a change of employer and a limited period of unemployment.”

The European Council had already adopted the original version of the Single Permit Directive in 2011.

It established a single application process for work and stay permits in all EU member states except Denmark and Ireland.

What is the Single Permit Directive

The Single Permit Directive makes it easier for third-country nationals to work and stay in the EU.

By streamlining the process, the Council hopes to attract and retain the skilled and talented individuals needed for legal migration.

The directive also lays down the common set of rights for third-country nationals working and staying in the EU.

This ensures that applicants are treated fairly and that single permit holders in various areas are given equal status.

The directive covers working conditions, health and safety, social security, education and vocational training, and tax benefits.

It also guarantees that Single Permit holders can access goods and services, including employment advice services and housing.

Revisions to EU’s Single Permit Directive

The updated Single Permit Directive shortens the application period for third-country nationals and also grants them more rights.

The revisions aim to stop unfair treatment and promote fairness, which aligns with the EU’s goal of welcoming skilled workers worldwide.

Below are the key changes to the EU’s Single Permit Directive:

Faster, easier application procedure

Non-EU workers can now apply for a single permit from a third country.

Those already living in the EU with valid resident permits can apply for a single permit from within the bloc.

They do not need to travel to their home country to apply for the single permit.

Upon submission of a completed application, an applicant should receive a decision within three months.

If the EU member states need to perform labor market and third-country profile checks, they should do so within three months.

A 30-day extension to decide on the application is allowed if it proves to be particularly complex.

Once an EU member state issues a single permit, it will serve as both a residence and work permit.

The right to change employers

One important change in the updated Single Permit Directive is allowing the holder of the single permit to change employers.

It allows more freedom and flexibility for non-EU workers to pursue various job opportunities.

Still, some EU countries may require single permit holders to work for an employer for a minimum period.

Single permit holders may need to notify authorities of changes in employers or employment status, and member states may carry out labor-market checks again.

Limited unemployment period

The revised directive also establishes rules for if and when a single permit holder becomes unemployed.

With a valid single permit, non-EU workers who suddenly find themselves unemployed can only stay in an EU member state for up to three months.

After two years with a single permit, they can stay in an EU member state while unemployed for up to six months.

Still, single permit holders who experience prolonged unemployment may be required to show proof that they can financially support themselves without relying on social assistance.

These guidelines provide security and support to non-EU workers as they navigate employment transitions.

Implementing the revised Single Permit Directive

The revised Single Permit Directive takes effect 20 days after its publication in the EU Journal.

The member states have two years to incorporate the directive into their national laws.

Each EU member state must implement the changes domestically before the law can be legally enforced.

Member states will be responsible for monitoring employers’ compliance with the terms of the Single Permit Directive.

This involves conducting more rigorous checks to ensure that national equal treatment rules are complied with.

Additionally, employees will be entitled to seek individual remedies for instances of non-compliance by their employers, which was not addressed in the original version of the Single Permit Directive.

What it means for non-EU workers

The Single Permit Directive is essential to the EU’s broader strategy of managing legal migration, addressing labor shortages, and fostering integration.

The new directive simplifies the process of obtaining work and resident permits for long-term stays in the EU.

This favors families, investors, digital nomads, students, and researchers.

The directive also streamlines travel to the bloc in conjunction with the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

Launching in 2025, the ETIAS is a digital travel permit for non-visa nationals, including British citizens, visiting the Schengen Zone.

Those with valid immigration status in the EU will be exempt from the ETIAS. This includes those with resident and work permits, including the Single Permit Directive.

The ETIAS is the EU equivalent of the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for the United Kingdom (UK).

Both electronic permits monitor the comings and goings of people and ensure safe travel for all.