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Explaining the rules

IMMIGRATION RULES IN THE EU: WHO DOES WHAT?

The EU and its Member States share the competence in the area of immigration. There are certain common immigration rules valid across the EU, while other aspects are determined by each EU country. This means that immigration rules are not identical in different EU countries and national authorities are best placed to reply to your detailed questions. Residence permit applications must always be made to the authorities of the EU country you plan to move to. There is no European institution handling applications or issuing residence permits on behalf of individual countries.

What does the EU do - further information

Since 1999, the EU has been developing a common immigration policy for Europe.

EU countries have agreed that the EU should have common, or EU-wide, immigration and visa rules that will be valid all across the EU. These are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2009)

Common measures to date include:

Exceptions to EU-wide rules

EU-wide immigration rules generally apply in 25 out of the EU’s 28 countries. The following exceptions apply:

Denmark does not apply EU-wide rules which relate to immigration, visa and asylum policies.

Ireland and the United Kingdom choose, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not to adopt EU rules on immigration, visa and asylum policies.

For more information on migration policy in the EU, you can visit the Website of the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission.

What do Member States do

Each EU country alone decides:

  • The total number of migrants that can be admitted to the country to look for work;
  • All final decisions on migrant applications;
  • Rules on long-term visas – stays for periods longer than three months; and
  • Conditions to obtain residence and work permits when no EU-wide rules have been adopted.
Select a country from this map to find up-to-date information on each of the 28 EU countries regarding their national institutional framework, i.e. the competent authorities for immigration, key legal texts, policy plans and statistical studies.