NEWS

Another chance to stay in Greece — with conditions

About 100,000 immigrants living in Greece illegally – one-fifth of the total number in the country – can apply for legal residence under the new bill, according to government statistics. The bill provides two opportunities for illegal immigrants living and working in Greece to stay here – but on a limited scale. The first applies to those immigrants who have residence permits extended until June 6, 2004 or to those whose permits have expired after that date and have not been renewed. These permits are automatically extended until December 12, 2005 without the need for any further documentation. Immigrants who come under these categories may apply for work permits after the law is published and until October 31. The prefectural labor departments are obliged to issue the work permits within two months, but not after the end of the year. Applications for the renewal of residence permits are to be submitted to the regions within a month of the date that the work permit has been received. The biggest change in the new procedures is the reduction of social security stamps required for the application to 150, which can be bought by the applicant at no extra cost. The second opportunity applies to immigrants who are in Greece illegally, but who entered the country in a legal manner. The region’s general secretary may issue them a temporary residence permit if, by the time the law is published, they have been continually living in Greece for at least a year, as indicated by the last date of entry stamped on their passport. Applications must be submitted to the local municipality between October 1 and December 31, 2005. The application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration stating the applicant’s profession, reason for staying in Greece, health certificate, proof of contributions to the social security fund for at least 150 days, proof of application for health fund booklet, and a certificate of family status in the case of dependent children. Immigrants who entered the country illegally but have been apprehended and their date of entry recorded may apply for residence permits if that date was at least one year before the law is passed.