The Law no 4251 published in the Official Gazette on 1 April 2014 introduces important reforms in the field of residence permits for third country nationals as well as new organisational arrangements for their social integration in the Hellenic Republic.
In an effort to address the negative effects of the economic crisis in Greece, the Code of Migration and Integration attempts to institutionalise a series of Immigration Advisory Committees reflecting on the important role of social inclusion. Paragraph 6 of Article 15 establishes that holders of stay permits have also the right to employment while Paragraph 7 establishes the obtention of a long-term residence permit as condition to self-employment rights.
Article 128 provides third country nationals who have entered and reside legally in Greece with the possibility to change the purpose of their stay and obtain Blue card. The reform is mostly important for those who entered the country for the purpose of study as they previously were not able to continue to reside legally in the country after completing their studies.
Furthermore, article 19 covers the granting and renewal of stay permits for humanitarian reasons, while article 73, 74 and 76 define the procedure for family reunification, cancelling the obligation for the head of the family to prove sufficient resources during the renewal of the residence permit of family members to protect the family unity and integrating the direct access to labour market for family members.
On a more organisational level, article 18 reduces the number of stay permit types in order to avoid administrative burdens for third country nationals and their employers. Short-term residence permits are also replaced by a national visa that provides the right to employment for seasonal workers, fishermen, members of artistic groups, those who are legally employed in established businesses in a EU Member State or in the European Economic Area and move to Greece for a particular service, etc.
Overall, the new Code promotes long term residence and aligns the Greek legislation with the provisions 2011/51/EU of the European Parliament which extends the scope of Directive 2003/109/EC to beneficiaries of international protection.
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