FOREIGNERS IN SERBIA – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE COMING TO SERBIA
In the context of immigration regulations, a foreigner is any person who does not hold citizenship of the Republic of Serbia.
Foreigners can enter and stay in the Republic of Serbia with a valid travel document containing a visa or a residence permit previously issued by a competent body in the Republic of Serbia. In some cases, when it is stipulated by law or by an international agreement, there is no visa requirement when entering the country. For example, citizens of the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, and Austria are allowed to enter Serbia without a visa. However, when it comes to staying in Serbia, different regimes apply to citizens of different countries.
A foreigner can stay in the Republic of Serbia:
- for a short stay,
- on the basis of a long-stay visa,
- on the basis of a temporary residence permit (up to one year),
- on the basis of a permit for permanent residence.
A foreigner who does not need a visa or a travel document to enter the Republic of Serbia can stay for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days (short stay), counting from the day of first entry, unless otherwise stipulated by an international agreement. For example, Ukrainian citizens may enter and stay in the Republic of Serbia for up to 90 days total in the period of 180 days. Russian and Belorussian citizens may enter and stay in the Republic of Serbia for a period of 30 days. This does not mean that Russian and Belarusian citizens are in a worse position than others, on the contrary. Citizens of these countries can stay in Serbia for a maximum of 30 consecutive days, after which they are obliged to leave the country, but after that, they can return an unlimited number of times. Of course, the maximum length of stay, i.e. 30 consecutive days, must not be exceeded.
For a foreigner who, in accordance with the visa regime, needs a visa to enter the Republic of Serbia and who intends to apply for a temporary residence permit in the Republic of Serbia, a long-stay visa is required. Long-stay visa (Visa D) is an authorization to enter and stay in the territory of the Republic of Serbia for a period of 90 to 180 days. For example, citizens of Afghanistan would need a Visa D in order to submit an application for a temporary residence permit because they are required to have a visa in order to enter the country.
If you want to stay in Serbia for longer, you will probably need a temporary residence permit. Temporary residence is a residence permit for a foreign citizen in the Republic of Serbia and can be granted to a foreigner who intends to stay in the Republic of Serbia for longer than 90 days. Temporary residence can be granted to a foreigner who intends to stay in the Republic of Serbia for longer than 90 days on the basis of:
- schooling or learning the Serbian language;
- participation in international student exchange programs;
- professional specialization, training, and practice;
- scientific research work or other scientific educational activities;
- family reunification;
- performing religious services;
- treatment or care;
- ownership of real estate;
- humanitarian stay;
- status of presumed victim of human trafficking;
- the status of a victim of human trafficking;
- other justified reasons in accordance with the law or international agreement.
Depending on the legal grounds for temporary residence, there are different legal requirements regarding documentation necessary for the procedure.
For those who decide to stay in Serbia permanently, the procedure for obtaining permanent residence is inevitable. Permanent residence is a permit for a long-term residence of a foreign citizen in the Republic of Serbia. Permanent residence will be granted to a foreigner who meets the requirements prescribed by law and who has resided in the Republic of Serbia continuously for more than five years on the basis of a temporary residence permit prior to submitting the request for permanent residence.
All these terms may be confusing for someone who decides to move to Serbia, so here are some basic steps:
- Before crossing the border, make sure to know if you need a visa for entering the country;
- Check for what is the maximum period of time for which you don’t need a visa to stay;
- Make sure to have enough money (50 EUR per day of stay is required), otherwise you may be denied to enter the country;
- Arrange your accommodation ahead of time. Your landlord will be required to register your arrival in the first 24 hours after crossing the border;
- Plan ahead – if you want to live and work in Serbia, get familiar with the regulations on foreigners and prepare everything necessary before the trip.