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Long-term residents

The integration of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU States is key to promoting economic and social cohesion in the EU. A non-EU national who has legally resided in an EU State for a certain period of time should thus be granted a set of uniform rights, almost identical to those enjoyed by EU citizens.

Status of non-EU nationals who are long term residents

The 2003 Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents states that the status of long-term resident should be awarded after a person has lived legally in an EU State for an uninterrupted period of five years. This is however dependent upon the person having a stable and regular source of income, health insurance and, when required by the EU State, having complied with integration measures. The applicants must also not constitute a threat to public security or public policy. If they comply with these conditions, the non-EU nationals receive an EU long-term residence permit, renewable, and the status of EU long-term resident. They enjoy the same treatment and rights as nationals in certain areas:

  • access to employment and self-employed activity
  • education and vocational training
  • social protection and assistance (at least core benefits)
  • access to goods and services, etc.

They also benefit from the possibility, under certain conditions, to move from one EU State to another.

In 2010, an agreement was reached to extend the scope of the Directive to the beneficiaries of international protection.

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark have special arrangements for immigration and asylum policy, and the Directive on long-term resident status does not therefore apply in these countries.

Additional tools


Residence permit

Any authorisation issued by the authorities of an EU State allowing a non-EU national to stay legally in its territory,...


Non-EU national

Any person not having the nationality of an EU State.


Long-term resident

Any non-EU national who has long-term resident status as provided for under Directive 2003/109/EC.


Long-term residence permit

A residence permit issued to a non-EU national by the EU State concerned upon the acquisition of long-term ...



A dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by migrants and by the societies that receive them.



The action by which a person establishes his or her usual residence in the territory of an EU State for a period ...



The exercise of activities covering whatever form of labour or work regulated under national law or in accordance...