The adopted revision to the 2011 single-permit directive has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, and the EU Council has temporarily suspended certain elements of EU law that regulate visa issuance to Ethiopian nationals.

Key Points:

  • The single-permit directive enters into force on May 21, 2024, and EU member states have until May 21, 2026, to implement the terms of the directive domestically.
    •  Member states will maintain the ability to decide which and how many third-country workers to admit to their labor market.
  • For Ethiopian nationals, the standard visa-processing period has been changed to 45 calendar days instead of 15. In addition, EU member states will no longer be able to waive certain requirements when issuing visas to Ethiopian nationals, including evidence that must be submitted to issue multiple-entry visas and visa fees for holders of diplomatic and service passports.

Background: As BAL previously reported, the directive currently in place was designed to attract additional skills and talent to the EU to address shortcomings within the legal migration system, provide an application process for EU countries to issue a single permit and establish common rights for workers from third countries. The revised law shortens the application procedure for a permit to reside for the purpose of work in a member state’s territory and aims to strengthen the rights of third-country workers by allowing a change of employer and a limited period of unemployment. The new agreement is part of the “skills and talent” package, which addresses shortcomings in legal migration policy and aims to attract greater foreign skilled talent.

The decision to tighten visa guidelines for Ethiopia is in response to an assessment by the EU Commission, which found that Ethiopian authorities have not fully cooperated with officials regarding readmission requests and difficulties persist in issuing emergency travel documents. The commission cited the organization of both voluntary and non-voluntary return operations as a determining factor in altering Ethiopia’s visa privileges within the European Union.

BAL Analysis: The single-permit directive is directed at non-EU nationals working in the EU and aims to create an environment where these individuals are treated equally regarding their working conditions, social security and tax benefits, and recognizing their unique qualifications.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group.

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