MEPs back an improved single work and residence permit for non-EU nationals 

Press Releases 
  • Procedure should take maximum 90 days 
  • Easier to change jobs 
  • Time given to find a new job: workers will be able to keep the permit for at least 9 months if they become unemployed 

MEPs backed on Thursday draft EU legislation to issue work and residence permits more quickly for nationals of third countries and to improve their rights.

With 47 votes in favour, 13 against, and no abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee adopted a report updating the 2011 Single permit directive, which foresees a single administrative procedure for delivering a permit to third-country nationals wishing to live and work in an EU country. MEPs amended the Commission’s proposal to include seasonal workers or those with temporary protection status. EU member states would retain the power to determine how many third-country nationals can enter their territory for work.

Faster decisions

MEPs set a limit of 90 days for reaching a decision on an application for a single permit, from the current four months. This time limit would be shortened to 45 days if the applicant were selected through an EU talent partnership or already holds a single permit in another EU country. The single permit should be issued in paper format and be accessible in electronic format.

More chances to change jobs

Under the revised rules, there will be a simplified procedure to allow the worker to change employer. MEPs also want the single permit holder to be able to keep it while being unemployed, for at least nine months, from the three months proposed by the Commission, so that they can search for new employment.


After the vote, the rapporteur Javier Moreno Sanchez (S&D, ES) said: “We are making the procedure for obtaining a single permit as simple and fast as possible. This way it can become a useful tool for companies and workers from third countries, responding quickly to the needs of the labour market and strengthening legal paths to reach Europe in search of work. Secondly, we guarantee equal treatment of workers from third countries as compared to national workers, protecting them from exploitation and other illegal situations, while facilitating their full integration in our societies.”

Next steps

MEPs also agreed - with 53 votes in favour, 6 against, and no abstentions - to open negotiations with the EU ministers on the final form of the law. The decision is expected to be announced at the 17-20 April European Parliament plenary session. If there are no objections in plenary, the talks may begin once the Council adopts its own negotiating position.