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Efforts to streamline and enhance legal migration procedures for non-EU nationals have led the European Council to approve significant revisions to the Single Permit Directive.

Established in 2011, this directive serves as the cornerstone for facilitating the integration of third-country workers into the European Union (EU) job market while safeguarding their rights. Wego reports that the latest updates aim to attract skilled individuals and address previous shortcomings in the EU’s migration framework.

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What is the Single Permit Directive?

The Single Permit Directive outlines the administrative process for obtaining a single permit, which grants both the right to work and the right to reside within an EU member state for non-EU nationals. It also establishes a common set of rights for third-country workers, ensuring consistency and fairness across the EU.

The revised Single Permit Directive introduces significant changes to the process for non-EU nationals seeking residency and work permits within the European Union.


Provided below is a comprehensive breakdown of the revisions:

  • Non-EU nationals residing within the EU will now be able to submit their single permit application from within the territory of an EU member state, simplifying the process for those already present in the region
  • The updated directive requires member states to decide on permit applications within three months of receiving them, down from the previous four months
  • Non-EU nationals to gain more flexibility in changing employers, with notification to authorities required. Third-country workers may stay if their unemployment doesn’t exceed three months during the permit’s validity or six months after two years.
  • EU member states will be tasked with implementing new compliance monitoring obligations. A redress mechanism will also be established to address any grievances or disputes arising from permit applications or employment situations

The revised Single Permit Directive is poised to make the EU more attractive to foreign workers by offering a faster and more straightforward application process, coupled with enhanced rights and protections. Employers may benefit from a more agile workforce, while workers will enjoy increased flexibility and security in their employment arrangements.

The directive will enter into force following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, with member states given a two-year window to transpose its provisions into national law. This transition period will allow countries to adapt their existing frameworks to align with the updated directive, ensuring consistency and uniformity in the implementation of migration policies across the EU.