Entrance and staying in Albania

An immigrant worker or the members of his family who request to enter the Albanian territory shall obtain visas from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through diplomatic or consular offices of the Republic of Albania abroad by stamping the visas on the travelling document to allow their entry in Albania. Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides long-term visa, type "D", for the foreigner who wish to enter in Albania on working purposes. The foreigner applying for a visa, according to the particular form, submits it to the Albanian diplomatic representations abroad.

Immigrant laborers or members of their families have the right to entry, to pass transit and to exit from and out of the Albanian territory only when they possess:

  • a passport with validity at least 3 months before its expiry date;
  • entry visas or  residence permit delivered by the Albanian competent authorities or issued by other countries and recognized by the Republic of Albania.
  • as appropriate, they may be required to submit additional documents.

Visa types

No.

Types of visas

Purpose

Type

Number of entries

Duration of stay

1

With validity up to 6 months

Transit

A

multiple

Transit (airport area)

2

With validity up to 5 years

Stay

C

1+

90 days within 180 days

3

Long-term (1 year)

Stay

D

1+

Up to 180 days

A. WORK PERMIT

A.1       Work Permit Requirements

To the Albanian law, a “Work Permit” is an authorization issued by the competent state authority to a foreigner, for business purposes, employment, self-employment or vocational training.

The Law “On Foreigners” stipulates that a foreigner may work in the territory of the Republic of Albania if he has a regular work permit, residence permit and has applied legally for residing and working. The foreigner, subject to this law, means the citizen who is not of Albanian nationality, is with another nationality or without nationality, without distinguishing if he is a citizen of the European Union or of any other country. Foreigners in the Republic of Albania enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms, provided by the Constitution for the Albanian citizens, however there are certain exceptional cases prescribed by law.

The law classifies Work Permits in accordance with economical activity required to be performed by a foreigner. They are grouped into work permits of Type A (for economical activities as an employee) and of the Type B (for independent economical activity), which are further divided into other subgroups by the relevant governmental decisions as follows:

  1. as seasonal worker;
  2. as a person performing voluntary service or a person employed in the framework of youth exchanges;
  3. as self-employed;
  4. as a family member;
  5. for students, work permit type A/S;
  6. as a highly qualified employee;
  7. as an athlete;
  8. as a domestic worker;
  9. work permit type  C, for special cases;
  10. for contract services;
  11. as an investor;
  12. for transfers within the company;
  13. work permit type  D, after receiving the second permit;
  14. for vocational training;
  15. as employer.

A.2       Work permits application

The work permit application can be submitted with the respective labor offices located in Albania, or in the Albanian Consulates located in the foreigner country of origin. The authority responsible for handling employment relations of foreigners in Albania is the competent authority for migration issues at the Ministry in charge of employment issues and social issues; while in the local level, the Regional Employment Office is the competent authority. It issues work permits taking into account the development and needs of the labor market.

A.3       Investment activity

A work permit is granted to a foreigner being an investor who undertakes independent economic activity, if the investor holds at least 10 percent of the capital of a company or at least 10 percent of the majority of decision-making in a commercial company, situated in the country of origin or within Albanian territory. The foreigner shall invest within the country, at least the amount of 200.000 (two hundred thousand) Euro. Investments must have economic benefits for the labor market development in increasing employment opportunities and creating new jobs.

A.4       Independent economic activity

A work permit as self-employed is granted to a foreigner, who has an independent economic activity, if his activity has economic benefits for the labor market development. The activity should be appropriate in a specific sector of the geographical region where it will be conducted, based on labor market study results, performed by the relevant employment office.

A.5       Employment of family members of the migrant worker

Work permits for members of the family are given to each adult family member of an immigrant laborer with regular residence permit in Albania, who is provided with a permit for a year.  The family member must also have a regular contract with an employer or must work in the family business as self employed. This work permit is granted on condition that the member of the family should have lived with the foreigner for at least for three consecutive years.

A.6       Foreigners employment conditions

The Regional Employment Office, before issuing the work permit, takes into account the development and needs of labor market in Albania. This authority, before the approval of the application of an immigrant worker seeking a job, should evaluate whether such work position can be obtained by:

  • an Albanian unemployed applicant;
  • foreigners, family members of Albanian nationals;
  • nationals from the EU member countries or from Schengen countries;
  • family members of immigrant workers, who reside and work in Albania;
  • nationals from countries Albania has signed bilateral and multilateral employment agreements;
  • job-seekers who enjoy the priority in domestic labor market;

Foreigners can be employed in the public sector but they cannot take any leadership position in the public administration.

A.7 Transfers within the company

The transfer of employees in a branch company situated in Albania is regulated by the Labour Code, which determines the procedures for obtaining work permits for employees who are on secondment from a “mother” company to its branch in Albania.

Work permits for employees transferred within a company are given to immigrant laborers transferred within the company, without the need to submit documents, but provided they are employed as specialists or administrators, after due application with the relevant employment office. The foreigner applies with the General Directorate of the National Employment Service, but the application can be also submitted in the Albanian Consulates located in his residence home country.

A foreigner may be granted a work permit, when transferred within the company, if he meets the following criteria:

  • The employee has been working with the “mother” company, before transferring into the Albanian branch, for at least 6 consecutive months being an administrator and specialist or for at least 3 consecutive months being a graduated intern;
  • The employee has the relevant professional qualification, in accordance with the scope of work required to perform with the branch;
  • The employee has entered legally in the Albanian territory.

A.8       State assistance for EU workers

The Law “On Encouragement of Employment” guarantees that unemployed people receive all the required assistance according to their demand for employment. A foreigner who has been granted a work permit and a residence permit has the same rights as unemployed Albanian nationals. Employment services activities include: information on job vacancies, employment intermediation and also counseling and guide to employment and occupation. The state shall establish and maintain separate organizations that provide free employment services across the country.

A.9       Trade union rights

Foreigners, after obtaining the residence permit, have the right to organize themselves in compliance with the labor laws in the same way these laws apply to Albanian citizens.

The freedom of association is protected by law and no one has the right to condition the employment of an immigrant worker or his family member with the fact of being or not a member of trade union. In addition, the right of immigrant laborers and their family members cannot be violated due to their non-participation or association with a trade union organization. Among all the rights of a foreign employee the Albanian Labor Code emphasizes his right to termination of an employment contract, as well as being member of the trade unions. The foreigner has also the right to strike or to sue his employer if his contractual rights are violated.

B. RESIDENCE PERMIT

B.1       Residence Permit general information

A residence permit is an authorization granted by the competent authorities for citizens who wish to stay more than 90 days in Albania. Foreigners that apply for residence permits in Albania are provided with residence permit of 3 months, 6 months or 1 year validity. The first permit may be renewed up to 5 consequent new permits, except for the permits of 2 years validity, which may be renewed only once or permits of 5 year validity which may be renewed according to the law.

If the foreigner has legally resided for 5 consecutive years in Albania or has sustainable ties or activities in the country, he is granted with a permanent residence permit.

The residence permit demand or its renewal shall be deposited personally by the applier with the migration sectors/offices, or regional directorates for border and migration located within the territory where the foreigner is residing at the time of application.

B.2 Residence permits for EU workers family

All family members of a foreigner enjoy the same rights and obligations derived from the law as well as the foreigner himself. Adult members of the family of a foreigner, who have entered Albania for the effect of family reunion, have the right to apply individually for their residence permits if they wish to stay in Albania at least 5 years. Minors, who have entered Albania for the purpose of family reunion, apply for residence permits independently of other family members after reaching the adult age.

The foreigner, who has been provided with a residence permit and works in Albania, can submit a request for family reunion with the local Border and Migration Police. To be provided with that, he should meet the following conditions:

  • Family members reside outside the territory of the Republic of Albania;
  • Legal entrance in Albania;
  • Residence in Albania for not less than one year;
  • Guarantees appropriate accommodation;
  • Legal incomes as required by law;   
  • Payment of health insurance contributions for himself and his family members;
  • Guarantees sustainable financial income;
  • Provides the necessary documentation.

The Residence Permit for family reunification purposes is issued for a validity period not longer than the residence permit of the person who submits the request for family reunification.

B.3 Revocation of the residence permit

The conditions under which the foreigner right to reside can be revoked by the authorities are provided by the legislation on foreigners. Actually, the residence permit is revoked when:

  • the foreigner is engaged in fraud;
  • the conditions under which the permit was issued no longer exist;
  • when the unemployment period exceeds 3 months for foreigners who have worked for up to 3 years and 6 months for foreigners who have worked for over 3 years;

If a foreigner has left Albanian territory for a period longer than six consecutive months, the residence permit is considered terminated on the expiry of the validity period.

Social security protection for foreign workers in Albania

Albanian social security scheme is based on the principles of residence. If the foreigners working in Albania don’t have greater benefits from their countries of origin, or when there is no bilateral agreement between Albania and their country of origin, the foreigners employed in Albania shall receive the same amount of social security protection as Albanian employees do. The law “On Social Security” introduced an obligatory, public and social insurance system with universal coverage, and also a special scheme of voluntary and supplementary social security’s, as well.

i. The public obligatory scheme is the Albanian first tier, covering those people employed in the public and private sectors and those self-employed in the urban and rural areas, provided that they have contributed to the scheme for a predefined amount of time.

Special pension regulations are provided for government officials and the uniformed services, but also for miners, pilots and merchant marine seamen. Those who have reached the pension eligibility age but do not qualify for pension for other reasons are granted social allowance paid from the state budget. Social security scheme offers protection also to those employees affected by diseases or that have been subjects to injuries during the work.

ii. Albanian voluntary pension system consists of institutions of supplementary private pensions as given by the Law "On Voluntary Pension Funds". The operation of this scheme  is aimed at the achievement of two major goals:

  • To provide supplementary pensions;
  • To provide for better provisions of pensions than those offered from the obligatory scheme.

The institutions of this tier are gradually increasing their activity.

The period of coverage under social insurances starts on the day when a person has legally started an economic activity and it ends on the date when such activity ends legally. The period of coverage under voluntary social insurance begins on the date specified in the insurance contract and it ends on the date of the termination of such contract.

Tax, social advantages and vocational training of EU workers

The EU workers have the same rights and obligations on tax and social security issues as Albanian citizens when they work and reside legally in Albania. According to income tax law, there is no distinction between Albanians and foreigners concerning income taxes or other personal incomes.

Vocational formation is a special category of economic activities that is offered to an immigrant worker in Albania. They are provided with work permits for vocational formation that extend up to the time period of the formation course. They are required to demonstrate that such formation is closely linked with the improvement of their skills and qualification.

Vocational formation of the employees is performed by the employers for the purposes of internal qualifications in the company. The costs of these trainings are covered by the employers.