Long-term residence right

Long-term residence rights from 2024

The new Immigration Law (XC of 2023) introduced the concept of long-term residence, standardizing previous immigration, settled and permanent residence statuses by, but there is practically no change in terms of related rights. It is expected that many people will continue to refer to this residence status as permanent residence permits.

The change introduced new names for the three types of permits related to the right of long-term residence:

  • National residence card — formerly national permanent residence permit
  • EU residence card – formerly EC permanent residence permit
  • temporary residence card – former interim permanent residence permit (special case of intra-EU mobility)

Based on the habitual residence in Hungary for a certain period of time, the national residence card and the EU residence card can be requested from among the above permits. In our article, we have collected the most important general information and changes in legislation related to these two long-term residence permits.

The right of long-term residence in general

Long-term residence status is the highest level of residence status that can be obtained for non-EEA nationals prior to Hungarian citizenship, which is indefinite and can only be terminated by withdrawal.

The validity period of the national and EU residence card is 10 years. This is a significant change from the previous validity period of 5 years.

The holder of the national residence card and the EU residence card obtains a Hungarian identity card and a plastic address card by establishing a permanent address.

Persons currently holding permanent residence or immigration permits will receive a national or EU residence card according to the new law at the next extension of the document, with a validity period of 10 years.

Even in the case of applications submitted before 01.01.2024 but not yet completed, documents will be issued in accordance with the new law.

Conditions for acquiring long-term resident status

As long-term residence status is a high-level residence status, the general conditions for obtaining it remain subject to strict legislation and decision making practices.

The condition of the application is the continuous stay in Hungary for a specified period, proof of subsistence, housing and health insurance entitlement. Subsistence documents are of paramount importance in decision making because they are checked and examined more seriously by the authority than in the case of applications for residence permits.

Calculation of the required period of stay

The national residence card or the EU residence card can be applied for after 3 or 5 years of continuous uninterrupted residence in Hungary, respectively.

The authority examines uninterrupted stay in Hungary on the basis of the applicant’s passport, the data of the border control system and its own system.

Uninterrupted residence in Hungary also includes the years spent by the applicant in Hungary with a residence permit issued on the basis of the Aliens Act previously in force.

Previously, there was no clear position on this issue from the authorities. The transitional provisions of the new law stipulate that switching between the types of permits under the previous and the new law constitutes a new, first permit issue, which would thus technically mean an interruption of residence. On this basis, it was expected that previous years of residence would not be taken into account.

Fortunately, the authority’s position on this issue has developed in such a way that foreigners do not lose their previous years of residence in Hungary, they are counted towards the time interval required for applying for a national residence card and an EU residence card.

Situation of holders of guest worker permits

The new Immigration Law excludes holders of certain residence permits from acquiring long-term residence status (permanent residence). These permit types are typically guest worker permits, guest self-employed permits, guest investor residence permits and related family members.

In the case of a guest worker permit, the law excludes the possibility of obtaining a national residence card, and the EU residence card is not available to them because it is not possible to stay in Hungary for 5 years continuously required for an EU residence card. The reason for this is that beyond the maximum permit validity, the next permit can only be issued as a new, first permit, so technically this interrupts the stay even if the applicant has actually resided in Hungary all along.

Since it is expected that the holders of the guest worker residence permit and the residence permits for employment purposes will actually spend more than 5 years in Hungary, we asked the office for a position on whether they may be eligible to apply for an EU residence card. We asked for clarification whether the residence permit requested after 3 years and issued as the first permit interrupts the duration of their actual stay in Hungary. We hope that a clear position will soon be taken by the office on this issue as well.

Cultural knowledge exam

It has already been mentioned several times in the news that from 01.01.2025 the cultural knowledge exam will be introduced, the successful completion of which is a condition for obtaining long-term residence status. The exam must be completed in writing, in Hungarian, which greatly complicates the acquisition of this status for foreigners.

Based on current information, the main topics of the exam are Hungary’s culture, history and legal system.

In view of the future introduction of the cultural knowledge test and the fact that the rules for residence with a residence permit have also been tightened in certain cases, we strongly recommend that foreign nationals who meet the legal requirements for a national residence card or an EU residence card submit an application for long-term residence status still in 2024.

Official information about the application process and the necessary application forms can be found on the website of the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing: National Residence Card; EU Residence Card. Information on the processing fees for permit applications can be found here.

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