New immigration law seeks simplification

The second major legislative amendment on immigration in 15 years was announced recently by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. The bill, which incorporates irrelevant European Union directives, is aimed at simplifying immigrants’ interactions with the Greek state. If the new bill becomes law, about 100,000 illegal immigrants (out of an estimated total of 500,000) will be able to apply for residence permits. This includes people who once had residence permits, but have not renewed them, and who have been in the country at least a year. The law also creates a combined residence and work permit, issued through Greece’s 13 regions. The regions will now be responsible for issuing permits, though immigrants will continue to file their applications at local municipalities. There are provisions for 30 different categories of residence permits, including those issued for humanitarian reasons and for victims of human trafficking. Prefectures, working with regional staff, will also set up immigration committees, and police will evaluate immigrants through interviews. The bill also provides for classification of immigrants as «long-term» if they live continually in Greece for five years and pay a fee of 900 euros each. This classification absolves them of renewing their temporary residency permits as long as they fulfill the conditions of work and social security payments. The bill will also unite immigrants with their families, following EU law. This provision lets people who live and work legally in Greece to bring their spouses and dependent children, as long as they can support them.

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