The European Parliament recently approved the update of the EU rules on residence and work permits for third-country nationals, amending the Single Permit Directive.

The update modifies the Single Permit Directive, adopted in 2011, which established a single administrative procedure for granting a permit to third-country nationals wishing to live and work in an EU country, as well as a common set of rights for workers from third countries.

The modification has been approved by 465 votes in favor, 122 against and 27 abstentions.

Faster decisions on applications

In the negotiations, MEPs managed to set a limit of 90 days to make a decision on single permit applications, compared to the current four months. Procedures for especially complex files may have an extension of 30 days and the time to deliver the visa, if necessary, is not included.

The new regulations will introduce the possibility for the holder of a valid residence permit to apply for a Single Permit also from within the territory, so a person legally residing in the EU could request to change their legal status without having to return to their country. originally.

Change of employer

According to the adopted modification, holders of a single permit will have the right to change their employer, occupation and sector of work. A simple notification from the new employer will suffice. National administrative authorities will have 45 days to oppose the change. MEPs have also limited the conditions under which this authorization can be subject to the national employment situation.

EU states will have the option to require an initial period of up to six months during which it will not be possible to change employers. However, a change during that period would still be possible if the employer seriously breaches the employment contract, for example by imposing particularly exploitative working conditions.


If a single permit holder is unemployed, they will have up to three months – or six if they have had the permit for more than two years – to find another job before their permit is withdrawn, compared to the two months required by the rules. current. EU states can choose to offer longer periods. If a worker has experienced particularly exploitative working conditions, Member States will extend by three months the period of unemployment during which the single permit will remain valid.

If a single permit holder is unemployed for more than three months, Member States may require him to provide evidence that he has sufficient resources to support himself without using the social assistance system.

Next steps

The new rules must now be formally approved by the Council. Member States will have two years after the entry into force of the directive to make changes to their national regulations. This legislation does not apply in Denmark and Ireland.