The amendment to the Slovenian Foreigners Act, which was recently approved by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, represents a significant change to the migration legislation. As administrative burdens have, for many years, caused lengthy administrative procedures, the Government wants to relieve the burden on administrative units with this amendment. In this article we present the key changes.
The amendment will make it possible to issue extended temporary and permanent residence permits via postal service. Procedures to change employer or position within the same employer or to work for several employers (under the valid single residence and work permit) will be simplified, as a written decision of the administrative unit will no longer be required. As from the amendment the consent of the Employment Service (ESS) will be sufficient.
Verification of means of support will also be facilitated, as there will no longer be an obligation for the foreigners to notify of the existence of sufficient means of support every six months. Under the amendment, foreigners will only have to demonstrate sufficient means at the time of their first application and at the time of each renewal of the residence permit.
The provision requiring the administrative unit to send a written request to complete an application with fingerprints is being removed. The amendment will allow diplomatic and consular representations to digitally capture two fingerprints without a prior notice from the administrative unit.
Regarding temporary protection, foreigners whose temporary protection status would expire will be able to apply for a temporary residence permit within eight days for any lawful purpose (e.g. work, education).
In order to improve integration, Slovenian language courses will again be free of charge for foreigners. This provision lifts the current legal regulation, which is somewhat controversial as it makes the arrival and integration of family members of third-country nationals more difficult due to the limitation of funding for courses and the restriction of the range of beneficiaries for language lessons.The existing provisions, which would otherwise apply after a two-year transitional period, i.e. on 27 April 2023, also set stricter conditions regarding the required level of Slovenian language skills. The current legislation requires foreigners to speak Slovenian at a basic level upon entering the country and sets a higher requirement for foreigners who have already been residing in Slovenia for several years. The amendment to the Act will maintain the requirement of knowledge of the Slovene language at level A1 for the extension of a temporary residence permit for the purpose of family reunification, and at level A2 for the issuance of a permanent residence permit.
The amendment has been positively received not only by workers but also by employers, who have had difficulties recruiting new workers due to strict legal requirements and lengthy administrative procedures.Nevertheless, questions have been raised about the discriminatory nature of some of the provisions of the current legislation, which are not being amended. In particular, the provisions concerning the requirement for family members of foreigners to speak Slovenian at a basic level upon entering the country, which, according to the legislative and legal service of the Slovenian National Assembly and many NGOs, lead to unequal treatment of foreigners.