NEWS

Shake-up to hit permit renewal

The departure of thousands of contract workers from municipal and regional authority offices due to the nonrenewal of their contracts and the radical overhaul of local government introduced by the Kallikratis scheme voted into law last month is expected to seriously disrupt the renewal of immigrants’ residence and work permits and applications for citizenship. More than 750,000 people are expected to be affected by the changes. A key problem arises from the abolition of prefectures, which used to handle the processing of immigrants’ work permits and applications for political asylum. The Labor and Social Insurance Ministry will be obliged to deal with some 50,000 migrants’ applications in the new year unless a new body is entrusted with the job. The changes introduced by the Kallikratis scheme affect an even larger number of people – some 650,000 – whose applications for residence permits will be handled by supra-regional offices that are in the process of being established. Municipal authorities will handle the applications temporarily, until the new regional offices have been set up, and then the municipal offices will close down. Meanwhile there are fears that the immigration departments of new regional authorities across the country will have inadequate staff to operate properly following the departure of employees whose short-term contracts have expired and are not being renewed. In the case of the Athens immigration department, only 27 of the staff are on permanent contracts while 80 of their colleagues on short-term contracts are due to leave by the end of the year. Ten former employees of the Athens prefectural authority are to be transferred to the regional immigration department but this will not cover the shortfall.