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.
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:
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.
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.