Unlike national residence systems, EU long-term resident status grants status holders the possibility to move and reside in other EU countries, for instance for work or studies/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

EU updates rules for long-term resident status for non-EU nationals

At a meeting of the Council of the EU’s permanent representatives committee on Thursday, EU member states agreed to update the conditions under which third-country nationals can acquire EU long-term resident status.

In order to acquire EU long-term resident status, third-country nationals have to legally and continuously reside in a member state for at least five years. This EU status exists alongside national long-term resident schemes.

Under the proposal agreed by the member states, third-country nationals would be able to accumulate residence periods of up to two years in other member states in order to meet the requirements of the five-year residence period.

However, only certain types of legal residence permits, such as EU Blue Cards or permits issued for the purpose of highly qualified employment, would be accepted when counting the number of years of residence in other EU countries.

Certain conditions will apply in order for applicants to be able to acquire long-term resident status. For instance, third-country applicants must provide evidence of stable and regular resources that are sufficient to maintain themselves and the members of their family, as well as sickness insurance. Member states may also require third-country nationals to comply with integration conditions.

The proposal amends an EU directive of 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents. Some of the shortcomings that the amendments seek to remedy are that EU long-term resident status is under-used, that the conditions under which applicants may acquire this status are too complex and that there are numerous barriers to exercising intra-EU mobility rights.

EU long-term resident status is permanent. However, it can be withdrawn in certain cases, for instance when a person has not had their main residence in the EU for a certain period of time.

Unlike national residence systems, EU long-term resident status grants status holders the possibility to move and reside in other EU countries, for instance for work or studies. This right to intra-EU mobility is not an automatic right but is subject to a number of conditions. Such a condition is that member states may assess the situation of their national labour markets in case an EU long-term resident moves to their country from another EU member state for work.

EU long-term residents enjoy the same treatment as nationals with regard to access to employment and self-employment, education and vocational training and tax benefits, for example. There are a number of conditions, such as the requirement that holders of a residence permit live within the territory of the member state concerned.

The Council of the European Union will now enter into inter-institutional talks with the European Parliament to conclude a final legal text, which after its passage by the EU MPs will enter into effect.

According to Eurostat data, in 2020 the overall number of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU stood at 23 million. This is a share of 5.1% of the EU population. Of these 23 million, more than ten million third-country nationals were holders of a long-term or permanent residence permit.

Felix Dappah with Council of the EU media release

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