Moving to Europe temporarily is an opportunity embraced by over 200.000 students and researchers from outside the EU every year. However, far too many of them have to face unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Current rules for obtaining a student visa or a residence permit are often complex and unclear; procedures can be lengthy and vary considerably across Member States and moving from one Member State to another can be very difficult or even impossible. This hampers the possibility to provide EU countries with a greater pool of talent and reduces the appeal of the EU as a world centre for excellence.
Today the Commission proposed to make it easier and more attractive for non-EU national students, researchers and other groups to enter and stay in the EU for periods exceeding three months. New legislation will set clearer time limits for national authorities to decide on applications, provide for more opportunities to access the labour market during their stays and facilitate intra-EU movement.
"Coming to the EU for research or study is far more difficult than it should be. We have to remove these obstacles to make the EU more open to talents. Such mobility benefits the EU and our economy through the circulation of knowledge and ideas." said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.
"Knowledge is power, as the saying goes: it is vital that we attract the brightest and best researchers and students because they contribute to a successful knowledge economy in the EU. Our aim through the Marie Curie Actions and new Erasmus for All programme is to make Europe the destination of choice for higher education, research and innovation," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Experience with the implementation of current legislation has shown that Member States were not able to fully address the difficulties that applicants face when wanting to come to the EU to study or conduct research. The Commission is now proposing to set clearer, more consistent and transparent rules across the EU. The two current Directives on Students and Researchers will be modified and replaced by a single new Directive, which will improve:
Procedural guarantees, in particular through a 60-day time limit for Member States' authorities to decide on an application for a visa or residence permit, which will make the application process more straightforward and transparent.
Intra-EU mobility and transfer of skills and knowledge. Simpler and more flexible rules will increase the possibility for researchers, students and remunerated trainees to move within the EU, which is particularly important for students and researchers enrolled in joint programmes. Family members of researchers will also be granted certain mobility rights.
Access to the labour market. During their studies, students will be allowed to work for a minimum of 20 hours per week so that they can support themselves adequately and contribute economically. Researchers and students will also be able to remain for a period of 12 months under certain conditions on the territory after finalisation of their studies/research to identify job opportunities or set up a business. This will not amount to an automatic right to work, as granting a work permit remains a national responsibility.
The overall protection of additional groups of non-EU nationals, such as au pairs, school pupils and remunerated trainees, who are not covered by the existing EU legislation.
Read the full press release "Making the EU more attractive for foreign students and researchers" (IP/13/275)