Exceptions to work permit requirement
Work and residence permit process
EU blue card

The principle of free movement of workers within the European Union ensures that individuals can seek employment in any EU member state without significant formalities (ie, without work or residence permits). Although this regime covers most European countries, the employment of foreign nationals remains a hot topic in Hungary.

Exceptions to work permit requirement

In general, non-EU employees must obtain work permits in order to perform work in Hungary; however, some categories of employee are exempt from this obligation. Exempt employees must nonetheless be registered with the relevant labour centre.

Performance of exempt, short-term activities
If a non-EU company and a Hungarian company conclude a civil law agreement whereby the former renders certain services to the latter, the non-EU company's employees may perform specified activities in Hungary without a work permit. In these circumstances, no permit is required for work relating to warranties, guarantees, installation or servicing. The time taken to perform such activities may not exceed 15 working days in a 30-day period.

Temporary assignment
An exemption applies to the assignment of non-EU employees who are employed by a company or group of companies with a registered seat within the European Economic Area.

A non-EU citizen who is a managing director or executive officer of a Hungarian company may perform work in Hungary without further authorisation.

Temporary work
If a non-EU worker is employed by a temporary work agency with a registered seat in an EU member state, the employee may work in Hungary as a temporary worker without a permit.

Work and residence permit process

Standard process
If a non-EU worker cannot be exempted from the work and residence permit obligation, he or she and the prospective employer must follow the following procedure.

An employer may apply for a single or group work permit. Applications must be filed on the basis of what is termed a 'manpower request' by the employer, in order to show that no Hungarian workers can fill the vacant position. If no suitably qualified employee applies for the job within 15 days, a request for a work permit may be filed with the labour centre. The mandatory deadline for issuing a work permit is 20 working days, but the authorities habitually extend this deadline.

On receiving a work permit, the employee must file a request for a residence permit with the relevant authorities. The procedural deadline for issuing a residence permit is 30 days; however, applicants must often wait longer.

Work permits and residence permits are valid for two years from the date of issue and may be extended for a further two years.

Key personnel
No manpower request need be submitted to the labour centre if the employer is seeking to employ qualified personnel. Qualified personnel (also termed 'key personnel') are individuals whose job requires a high degree of understanding or specialised knowledge, or who have other qualifications which are necessary for rendering services to provide research, technological or management expertise to the company. On receiving a key personnel request, the authorities must issue a work permit within two working days.

EU blue card

A non-EU employee who has advanced skills and intends to work in Hungary may apply for an EU blue card, which will entitle him or her to reside in Hungary and find employment that requires such skills. This effectively makes the EU blue card a combined work and residence permit.

An EU blue card may be issued to a non-EU employee who has certified his or her purpose of entry and stay by providing the authority with an employment agreement (or a preliminary employment agreement), which may be concluded for up to four years.

For these purposes, if the employment agreement stipulates a higher educational or professional qualification as a job requirement, certification of the qualification must be provided.

As an EU blue card may be issued only to highly qualified employees with advanced skills, Hungarian law sets a minimum gross monthly salary for EU blue card holders.

The responsibility for filing the application form (and supporting documentation) with the Office of Immigration and Nationality lies with the employee, not the employer.

An EU blue card is issued for a minimum of one year. However, if the employment agreement (or the preliminary employment agreement) is concluded for a longer period - up to four years - the card will be issued for this fixed period. From May 1 2012 the procedural deadline for issuing an EU blue card will be 90 days.

For further information on this topic please contact Marianna Csabai at CLV Partners Law Firm by telephone (+36 1 488 7008), fax (+36 1 488 7009) or email ([email protected]).