Summary of the changes related to employment
The implementing decree of the new immigration law, as well as the supplementary decrees related to the act are still awaiting promulgation. Therefore, the Immigration Office (OIF) will not accept applications for residence permits until 29/02/2024, and has suspended case handling and decision making for pending applications.
Within our comprehensive article, we systematically delineate the pivotal modifications and emerging categories of permits impacting the employment status of third-country nationals in Hungary. It is imperative to underscore that, in numerous instances, the intricate procedural guidelines are yet to be delineated owing to the absence of foundational regulations. Anticipated revisions extend beyond the immediate legislation, encompassing other pertinent regulatory frameworks presently in effect.
1. General overview of the new immigration law
In the case of non-EU citizens, significant changes have recently taken effect in the consolidated residence procedure. Multiple new types of permits have been introduced specifically for gainful employment activities.
The previously commonly issued residence permit for employment purpose have ceased to exist in its former form. Instead, the new immigration law introduces several specific permit types.
Within the realm of employment, permits for intra-company transfers and the EU Blue Card have been retained under conditions similar to the previous act.
Those currently holding a residence permit for employment purposes can only apply for the newly specified permit types during the renewal process. Renewal, assuming employment conditions remain unchanged, can be initiated not earlier than 45 days before the expiration.
The new act does not include a residence permit issued for other purposes, raising uncertainties about whether, for instance, permits for relationships like domestic partnerships or in “other cases” not aligning with any of the act-defined residence purposes will be eligible for application.
The new act significantly influences the situation of family members as well. Certain permit types, such as guest worker permits or residence permits for educational purposes, are not eligible for connection of family member permits.
If an individual possessed a valid family reunification residence permit at the time the new immigration law came into effect may still extend their permit, even if they no longer qualify for family-related residence according to the new act.
An open question based on the new act is whether a dependent, who holds a valid residence permit for employment purposes, will be able to submit an initial application for a family member residence permit after March 1, 2024.
2. Permit types – employment purpose
The new immigration law divides employment status into three main categories:
Working as Guest worker
- Seasonal work
- Implementation of an Investment
- Regular employment
- Regular employment (qualified lending or favourable employer status)
Employees with high competence
- Hungarian card
- EU Blue card
- ICT permit
- Researcher permit
- Corporate card
Serbian and Ukrainian employees
- National card
Other permit types
- Working holiday
- National interest
- Guest investor
2.1. Guest workers
The common characteristic among permits falling under the category of guest workers is that their holders can only stay in Hungary for a limited period and these permits cannot be extended beyond the maximum validity period.
Accompanying family members are not permitted and guest workers are ineligible for permits allowing prolonged stays (previously permanent residence permits).
Regarding the employment of guest workers, the act imposes new obligations on employers: it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the guest worker leaves Hungary upon the expiration of the permit or the termination of the employment relationship.
Regulations pertaining to permits for guest workers will specify, through decrees, which occupations can be applied for by individuals of different nationalities and will outline the annual limit on the issuance of such permits. Until the publication of this article, these decrees have not been announced yet.
The following types of permits are available within the guest worker category:
- Seasonal Residence Permit for Employment: Allows seasonal work for a maximum of 6 months within a 12-month period.
- Employment status Residence Permit for the Implementation of an Investment: Issued in connection with investments where the employer has entered into a contract with the government regarding to an investment or has accepted its support offer and has obtained prior group work approval. Valid for a maximum of 3 years.
- Residence Permit for Employment: Granted for work within an employment relationship. The permit is valid for up to 2 years, extendable by a maximum of 1 year, allowing a maximum total stay of 3 years in Hungary.
- Guest Worker Residence Permit: Allows employment within an employment relationship, including workforce leasing. The employer must have a qualified lending or favourable employer status. The permit is valid for up to 2 years, extendable by a maximum of 1 year, allowing a maximum total stay of 3 years in Hungary.
2.2. Employees with high competence
A common feature of permit types falling under this category is that the holder possesses a higher education degree (or, in certain cases, a high-level and relevant qualification) and works in a position that requires such a qualification.
These permit types allow for longer stays in Hungary, and family members can also apply for permits.
- Hungarian Card: This permit is applicable for employment in a position requiring a higher professional qualification. It can also be requested by the director or owner of a company who in addition to their position, actively works within the company. The validity period is up to 3 years, extendable by up to 3 years on each occasion.
- EU Blue Card: The applicant must possess the professional qualification or expertise necessary for the job position. A certain period of residence is required in Hungary or another EU member state before submitting the application. It can be issued for a maximum of 4 years and is renewable.
- Residence Permit for Intra-Corporate Transfer: This permit is for temporary assignments related to employment or training within a corporate group. The maximum duration is 3 years for leadership or expert positions and 1 year for internship positions.
- Residence Permit for research purposes: Applicable for research work at an accredited research organization. The researcher holds a doctoral degree or a higher education qualification that qualifies for participation in a doctoral program. The validity period is up to 2 years, extendable by up to 2 years on each occasion.
- Corporate Card: Individuals leading or working for a business specified by the government or a business that has entered into an agreement with the government for settlement can apply for this permit. Its validity period is up to 4 years, extendable by up to 4 years on each occasion, and it cannot be converted to other permit types.
2.3. Serbian and Ukrainian employees
Special permits still allow for simplified employment procedures. The new immigration law does not specify through a separate decree which job positions qualify for the National Card. This determination will be made certain by the implementing decree, ensuring whether simplified employment applies to all job positions for Ukrainian and Serbian citizens not just those in occupations facing a shortage.
- National Card: A permit required for employing Serbian and Ukrainian citizens, allowing for workforce leasing as well. The initial validity of the first National Card is up to 2 years, extendable by up to 3 years on each occasion. This card facilitates a streamlined process for employment, offering flexibility and ease in hiring individuals from these nationalities.
2.4. Other scenarios
- Working holiday: A temporary residence permit for tourists temporarily working based on international agreements. Its validity is regulated by the international treaty signed with the respective country and is not extendable. The primary purpose of residence cannot be employment.
- Residence Permit Issued in the national Interest: Issued based on the decision of the competent minister for national, economic, scientific, cultural, or sports interests. The purpose of residence is employment. Its validity is up to 3 years, extendable by up to 3 years on each occasion.
For those working in Hungary outside the framework of an employment relationship, the following options are available:
- Guest Investor Residence Permit: Effective from 01.07.2024, this permit outlines the types of investments considered in the national economic interest. Its validity is for 10 years and can be extended by an additional 10 years.
- Guest Self-Employed Residence Permit: Requested by a legal entity’s executive officer or a non-EU citizen engaged in individual entrepreneurial activities. Upon initial issuance, it has a maximum validity of 1 year, and for renewals, the total validity cannot exceed 3 years.
We closely monitor the announcement of supplementary regulations related to the new immigration law and incorporate the corresponding detailed rules into our summary.