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Researchers play an essential role in driving EU growth and competitiveness. The EU always needs more researchers and is seeking to boost numbers through a range of inter-related measures – making scientific careers more attractive, promoting women’s involvement in scientific research, etc. Opening up the EU to researchers from around the world will also strengthen the EU’s position as an international research hub.

Specific rules for the admission of non-EU researchers

With the 2005 "Researchers" Directive the EU provides for a fast track procedure for the admission of non-EU researchers for stays of more than three months if the researcher has a “hosting agreement” with a research organisation. Research organisations play a major role in this process: once included in a list of “approved research organisations”, they certify the status of the researcher in a hosting agreement with the researcher. The document confirms the existence of a valid research project, as well as the possession by the researcher of the necessary scientific skills, sufficient resources and health insurance (a non-EU researcher coming to the EU to carry out independent research would not be covered by the Directive). In March 2013, the Commission made a proposal pdf - 314 KB [314 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr) to further improve current rules, including by setting clearer time limits for national authorities to decide on applications, providing for increased access to the job-seeking markets, and facilitating intra-EU movement.

Rights of non-EU researchers

When a researcher receives a residence permit, it automatically grants the right to work: there is no need for a separate work permit or a labour market test to prove that the research cannot be carried out by an EU researcher. Moreover, immediate family reunification is allowed. Researchers are also entitled to teach, and enjoy the same treatment as nationals in a number of areas, for example social security and working conditions. Once such a permit is granted, the researcher will also be free to travel between most Schengen countries and Ireland (the Directive does however not apply to the United Kingdom and Denmark) for up to three months in order to carry out the research project.

Recommendations on the admission and issuing of visas to researchers

The "Researchers" Directive is accompanied by two recommendations addressed to EU States: the first recommendation, on facilitating admission , concerns the immediate introduction of favourable conditions for the admission of non-EU researchers by EU States through exemption from or the automatic delivery of work permits. The setting up of accelerated procedures for issuing residence permits is also recommended. The recommendation also covers issues such as family reunification and operational cooperation between EU States and the Commission. The second recommendation, on short-term visas , encourages EU States to facilitate the rapid issue of short-term visas and multiple entry visas, and the adoption of a harmonised approach on the documents required for research visa applications. It also backs stronger consular cooperation on these issues.

Additional tools


Work permit

A legal document issued by a competent authority of a State giving authorisation for employment of migrant ...


Residence permit

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



A non-EU national holding an appropriate higher education qualification, which gives access to doctoral ...


Family reunification

The entry into and residence in an EU State by family members of a non-EU national residing lawfully in that EU ...



Any entrance of a person from one country to another, whether voluntary or involuntary, authorised or unauthorised.