NEWS

After 10 years of legal residence, immigrants to be allowed to stay

The government’s new bill on immigration policy, which requires 20 ministerial decisions and six presidential decrees, seeks to streamline residency procedures for immigrants. The bill is supposed to resolve issues such as the kinds of documents required for renewing residence permits and social inclusion programs for immigrants. The bill will make it possible to issue a single residence/work permit through the country’s regions, which are now responsible for this process. But bureaucracy is not completely eliminated. Issuing permits for new immigrants is extremely complicated and requires the involvement of a number of services. Some provisions are excessively strict, such as the 900-euro fee for immigrants who fulfill requirements for the «long-term» category. Meanwhile, there are doubts about the interview process, in which police officers will be part of a committee judging the personal qualities of the applicant. The bill covers the following issues: – Initial application for residence permit and renewal thereof. – Residence/work permits of one year’s duration, renewable for two years. – Immigrants’ applications to their local municipality for permits. Applications are then forwarded to the region’s aliens’ bureau. The applicant also pays a fee and submits documents such as proof of minimum social security fund contributions. – The region’s right to call the applicant in for an interview with the Migration Committee in each prefecture. – The entry of new immigrants to Greece after the bill has been made law. – The entry of new immigrants for employment with a specific employer for a specific job. – The formation of a committee in each region, consisting of the regional general secretary and representatives of other groups. The committees will compile a report in the last quarter of each year, setting out current needs in the work force and available jobs that could be filled by immigrants. – On the basis of the report, the Labor Ministry will issue a ministerial decree determining the maximum number of work permits per prefecture, the nationality of the immigrants, type and duration of work. The ruling is sent to the regions, the Manpower Organization (OAED), ministries and the Greek consular authorities where they are posted. – On the basis of the list, each employer submits an application to the municipality for staff. – Permits are approved for specific employment if the contract indicates that the pay is at least equal to that of an unskilled worker and if the necessary documentation is provided as specified in the ministerial decision. The bill also provides for 30 categories of residence permits, including those granted for humanitarian reasons, which will be issued only by decision of the Interior and Labor ministries for: – Victims of labor accidents and only for the duration of their treatment or until the person is provided with a pension for that reason. – Victims of crimes, according to court rulings, and for the duration of their treatment. – People who are residents of foundations or social welfare organizations. – Juveniles who are the wards of Greek families or families from third countries living legally in Greece or juveniles for whom adoption procedures have been initiated. – Persons suffering from serious health problems certified recently by a state hospital or a Social Security Foundation hospital. European Union directives now allow immigrants who have lived in Greece legally for the previous five years to become long-term residents. Under this classification, these immigrants will no longer be required to renew their residence permits if they fulfill the conditions. Immigrants who live here legally for 10 years may apply for an open-ended residence permit.