In March 2018, the new Serbian Law on Foreigners was adopted, replacing the 2008 version of this law - in force until recently without any amendments. The new law will enter into force on 3 October 2018.
While retaining the general concept of the previous law, the new legislation introduces certain novelties in terms of the residence permit process, as follows:
- The new law envisages the competence of the Security Information Agency (Bezbednosno informativna agencija) in procedures related to the entrance and residence of foreigners in Serbia. The Ministry of Interior will now have to request an opinion from BIA on whether a foreigner's entrance or residence in Serbia represents a risk to national security;
- Unlike the previous law, the new legislation stipulates the right to appeal a decision by which a foreigner is prevented from entering in Serbia or by which a residence was not approved/prolonged to him/her. The deadline for the submission of the appeal is within 15 days since the respective decision is obtained;
- Certain new grounds for the approval of a temporary residence permit are prescribed by the new law, as well as grounds that were applicable in the practice but not recognized in the law. The new list of legal grounds for the approval of a residence permit now also includes: performing a religious service, medical treatments and care, owning real estate in Serbia, learning Serbian language for educational purposes etc.; and,
- Additionally, a foreigner who has already stayed in Serbia for four years, without interruption, on the basis of "joining a family" may be granted a residence permit independently of his/her relation to a relevant family member.
Finally, the new law prescribes higher fines for foreigners who do not follow the provisions on a legitimate stay in Serbia, so the new maximum fine amount for foreigners, for any violation of the provisions of the law, is set to RSD 150,000 (approx. EUR 1,250).