EU Council Approves New Single Work and Stay Permit for Non-EU Citizens

In a recent development on April 12, the Council has given the green light to a revised version of the Single Permit Directive, updating the existing directive from 2011. This new law is designed to attract the necessary skills and talent that the EU requires while addressing current inadequacies in legal migration procedures to the EU.

The directive outlines the streamlined administrative process for a single permit that encompasses both the right to work and the right to stay within the EU. It also establishes a standard set of rights for third-country workers. With a focus on efficiency, the revision introduces a shorter application process and aims to enhance the rights of third-country workers by enabling them to change employers and allowing for a limited period of unemployment.

Application Process:

Individuals from third countries can now apply for the single permit either from their home country or, if already holding a valid residence permit, from within the EU. Once a member state approves the single permit, it will serve as both the residence and work permit.

Processing Time:

Under the revised Single Permit Directive, specific timelines have been set for issuing permits. The decision should be made within three months of receiving a completed application. In cases where member states opt to evaluate the labor market demand before granting the permit, this assessment should also occur within the same 90-day window. If necessary, an additional 30 days can be granted for more complex applications.

Change of Employer:

One significant change in this update is the provision allowing single permit holders to switch employers. This transition may involve notifying the authorities, and member states could conduct labor-market assessments. Additionally, EU nations may stipulate a minimum tenure requirement with the initial employer.


Guidelines have been established in the updated directive to manage situations where a single permit holder experiences unemployment. Third-country workers can remain in the member state for up to three months of unemployment during the permit’s validity or for six months after two years of having the permit.

Next Steps:

The directive is set to be enforced on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member states are expected to incorporate the directive into their national legislation within a two-year period.

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