ROMANIA - New Legislation Extends Processing Time
Romania has published a new immigration law (157/2011), effective 31 July 2011, which amends immigration acts 194/2002, 56/2007 and 55/2007. The new law imposes additional documentary requirements for work permit applications which will extend processing time and amends permanent residence to “long term” residence. In addition, the law sets out regulations for EU Blue Card applications and new sanctions for employers found to be in breach of immigration legislation, in line with European Union requirements.
Additional Documentary Requirements
The new law adds two new significant requirements:
- Verification of educational qualifications for assignees as well as local hires
- Police clearance certificates required for local hires
The new law makes it a requirement for all work authorisation applications (for non EU nationals) to have their educational qualifications verified by the Ministry of Education in Romania. Prior to the Ministry of Education verifying the diploma, it must be legalised in the country of issuance (i.e. authenticated by that country’s foreign affairs department as well as, depending on the country, the Romanian Embassy/Consulate in that country). Previously, this authentication of educational qualifications was required only for local hires in Romania, and not for assignees who were seconded from their home country. The additional processing time required is likely to add several weeks to overall lead time to obtain work authorisation and should be factored in for all new assignments to Romania.
Police Clearance Certificates
In addition, as part of the work authorisation application for a locally hired non EU national, it is now necessary to submit a police clearance certificate from the applicant’s country of residence. This must also be legalised. This will add significantly to processing time, again, depending on the country of residence of the applicant. For example, obtaining an FBI issued crime clearance from the U.S. can take several months.
Permanent Residence Now “Long Term” Residence
The new law also has a significant impact on non-resident family members of Romanian nationals. Previously, such applicants were granted permanent residence permits with unlimited validity. The new law amends the term “permanent” residence to “long term” residence and limits the validity of such residence documents to 10 years. Renewals, for periods of 10 years each time, are possible.
Blue Card Applications
The new law also introduces the Blue Card to Romania. The Blue Card is a new EU wide immigration category designed to encourage highly skilled migrants. In brief, qualifying criteria are for the migrant to have a valid employment offer, hold advanced qualifications, and be paid at least 1.5x the average gross annual salary in the host country. Benefits are that after two years, the applicant may change employer within the host country without having to seek prior authorisation, that the Blue Card can lead to permanent residency after five years, that adult dependents of a Blue Card holder should be granted permission to work, and that after 18 months in the country of Blue Card issuance the holder will have the right to work as a skilled migrant across the EU – subject to each member state’s approval. Contact Peregrine for more information.
Finally, also in line with an EU directive (Directive 2009/52/EC of 18 June 2009) the new law in Romania makes specific reference to sanctions for employers who do not comply with immigration legislation. Under the EU directive, which had to be transposed into each EU member state’s immigration law by end July 2011, responsibility for legal employment is placed squarely onto the shoulders of employers. Employers are required to check paperwork for each new non-EU national employee, are required to keep copies and records of all residence permits, and must notify the authorities of all new employment of non-EU nationals (unless non-EU national is a permanent resident). Additional audits and inspections of company sites by government authorities are also part of the new Employer Sanctions Directive. The Romanian government has confirmed that it will also establish an online database (SNES) to record and monitor data of immigrant applications.
- Expect an immediate slowdown in processing time while the Bucharest immigration authorities get to grips with the new law and review all ongoing cases against the new legislation
- Be prepared to submit additional supporting documents even for applications which have already been filed with the authorities (but not yet approved)
- Allow additional lead time for applications for assignees not on local contract due to the requirement for educational qualification verification
- Allow even more additional lead time for applications for local hires due to the requirement for police clearance certificates
- Note that Blue Card applications are now possible in Romania
- Note that increased audits and inspections are likely to ensure employer compliance with immigration law