03. May 2018

The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 24/2018), (hereinafter: the Law) on 22 March 2018. The law entered into force on 3 April 2018 and it will start to apply six months after the date of entry into force, i.e. on 3 October 2018.

 

The Law regulates conditions for the entry, movement, stay and return of foreigners, as well as the competences of the state authorities of the Republic of Serbia related to the entry, movement, stay of foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Serbia and their return from the Republic of Serbia. Compared to the previous law, the new law regulates this matter in more detail, making it easier to apply in practice.

 

The first major novelty envisaged by this Law is contained in its introductory provisions and is primarily focused on the protection of the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens when deciding on the rights and obligations of foreigners envisaged by this Law. The Law clearly regulates who gives opinion in terms of assessing whether the entry and stay of foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Serbia represents an unacceptable security risk. The Law stipulates that the state body in charge of the security of the Republic of Serbia and the organizational unit of the Ministry of Interior for the fight against organized crime and terrorism are competent authorities for assessment of the aforementioned risk. In addition, the Law defines that an unacceptable security risk exists if the available data and information indicate that a foreigner advocates, encourages, helps, prepares or undertakes activities that jeopardize the constitutional order and security of the Republic of Serbia, values protected by the international law, as well as national, regional and global security of importance for the Republic of Serbia and its legal order.

 

Further, the Law now stipulates three types of visa:

 

• Airport transit visa (visa A)
• Visa for short stay (Visa C)
• Visa for long stay (Visa D).

 

The airport transit visa is issued to a foreigner who, during the intercession at the airport in the Republic of Serbia, does not leave the international transit area of the airport. This visa is not required for foreigners who do not need visa to enter the Republic of Serbia, as well as foreigners with a valid visa or with a residence permit, as well as family members of citizens of the Republic of Serbia, holders of diplomatic and official passports, crew members, in accordance with the Convention on International Civilian Transport. Short stay visa is an entry permit for the Republic of Serbia, or a transit through the territory of the Republic of Serbia or a stay of up to 90 days on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, during the period of 180 days counting from the date of first entry. Finally, a long stay visa is an authorization for entry and stay on the territory of the Republic of Serbia for the period of 90 to 180 days.

 

The Law also stipulates an exception to the personal application for visa, if the representative office of consulate determines that the applicant used previously issued visas in a lawful manner. In addition, it is interesting that the Law provides the possibility of issuing visas at the border checkpoint by the border police, but only short stay visas with the fulfillment of other legal requirements.

 

The law also provides the reasons for rejecting the visa application and introduces the possibility to file an appeal against such a decision, provided that the appeal is in writing and in Serbian language.

 

Regarding the length of stay of foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the Law now makes a difference between a short-term stay of a foreigner (earlier known as stay of up to 90 days), temporary residence and permanent residence.

 

Bearing in mind that the Law, besides the aforementioned, introduced a number of other novelties, it was left to the Government and the competent ministries six months to introduce by-laws and other necessary forms that will more closely regulate the provisions of this Law and enable the beginning of its implementation. Until then, the regulations adopted on the basis of the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 97/08) from 2008 shall remain in force, and proceedings initiated before the entry into force of this Law shall end according to the provisions of the Law from 2008, unless it is more convenient for a foreigner that the procedure is finalized under the provisions of the new Law.