The National Employment Service changed its years-long practice regarding the extension of work permits for persons on secondment.
In particular, pursuant to Article 19 of the Law on the Employment of foreigners, work permits based on secondment are obtained for a period of the duration of an agreement between the local employer - who is the service user, and a foreign employer, but no longer than for one year. Exceptionally, a work permit for a seconded person can be issued for a longer period in case the employee is seconded from a country with which the Republic of Serbia has concluded a secondment related bilateral convention.
In practice, until recently, this meant that a secondment-based work permit was issued initially for a maximum period of 12 months (or exceptionally 24 months, if there was a bilateral social convention in place that envisaged this term). Once issued, a work permit for a seconded person could have been prolonged multiple times upon the expiry of the initial period, if adequate documents were properly and timely submitted.
However, this practice has been changed recently and the authority's standpoint now is that the National Employment Service will not continue to extend work permits, on the basis of secondment, upon the expiry of the maximum duration period of such permits.
In particular, this means that foreigners, who are in Serbia based on secondment for longer than 12 or 24 months (depending on the country of their residence), will, upon the expiry of their current work permit, need to regulate their work status in a different manner in order to continue working in Serbia – for example, to conclude an employment agreement with a Serbian employer or to otherwise acquire the basis for obtaining a new work permit.
With respect to this issue, Karanović & Nikolić attended the meeting recently held with the Ministry of Labour, at the initiative of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign Investor Council, where the representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the National Employment Service have confirmed the noted change in practice, with respect to the prolongation of secondment work permits, and underlined that this practice will be strictly applied in the future. Therefore, local employers should timely consider options for the future engagement of these persons after the expiry of their current permits.