As of January 1, 2014, third country nationals residing in Hungary for more than 90 days who require authorization to work in Hungary must apply for a joint work and residency permit (“joint permit”), rather than separate work and residency permits from separate authorities.

Going forward, a third country national applicant must submit a joint permit application to the immigration authority, and the immigration authority will make an official inquiry to the labor center to obtain an authorization. After the labor authorization is obtained from the labor center, the immigration authority will decide whether the residency requirements have been fulfilled, and whether to grant a joint permit.

Unfortunately, the new joint procedure has not produced simpler or easier work and residency permit processes for third country nationals. In fact, the new rules may be disadvantageous, particularly for those third country nationals who can enter and stay in Hungary for a period not exceeding 90 days without a visa.

Prior to January 1, third country nationals were allowed to enter Hungary without a visa for a period not exceeding 90 days and could start work on the basis of a work permit issued to the employer company without waiting to obtain a residency permit. Pursuant to the new rules, however, a third-country national must wait for the joint permit authorizing the third country national to work being issued before starting work. The procedural deadline for issuing the joint permit is 90 days. Moreover, before January 1, the work permit “applicant” was the Hungarian employer, making it relatively easy for the employer to collect all company information and documents necessary to submit the work permit application. Now, however, the applicant for the joint permit must be the third country national, who must collect all of the necessary information and documents about the Hungarian employer.

The intent of the new rules were to combine work and residency permit procedures into one joint procedure. However, the so-called manpower procedure (during which it is determined whether the position in question can be filled with a Hungarian national), if needed, must be initiated separately from the joint procedure. Therefore, the new procedure might not be as simple and quick as planned to be.

In practice, it is not clear whether the new rules will bring simplicity into corporate immigration matters for those third country nationals who are visa exempt for a period not exceeding 90 days. As a practical solution, these third country nationals might want to apply for their joint permit at the Hungarian embassy or consulate abroad before entering Hungary rather then applying locally and waiting for the joint permit to be granted. The new rules do not bring any changes relative to third country nationals who are exempt from work permit requirements; they must still apply for a residency permit under the ordinary procedure.