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Migration and Home Affairs

To have a stable and secure residence status, granting full access to work, education, and social security is important for the integration of non-EU nationals into the society where they live. This is why the Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents establishes that a person who has lived legally in an EU country for an uninterrupted period of five years, can obtain the status of long-term resident.

It is dependent upon the person - having a stable and regular source of income, health insurance and, when required by the EU country, having complied with integration measures. The person must also not constitute a threat to public security or public policy.

Legal framework

Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents sets the conditions under which non-EU nationals can obtain the status of long-term residents, which grant them a set of uniform rights, similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens.

More information on the key provisions of the directive is available in the Summary of EU legislation – Long term residence.

Objectives

  • ensure that non-EU nationals who have lived in an EU country for at least five years have a permanent and secure residence status
  • grant these non-EU nationals a set of rights that are similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens, in terms of work, education, social security, access to goods and services
  • make it easier for these non-EU nationals to move to other EU countries to work and study

A recast of the Long-term residents Directive

The recast of the Long-Term Residents Directive aims to create a more effective, coherent and fair system to acquire EU long-term resident status. This system should be a key tool to promote the integration of nationals of non-EU countries who settled legally and on a long-term basis in the EU.

Cumulation of resident periods across different Member States

The proposal makes it easier to acquire EU long-term resident status. This is done by allowing third-country nationals to cumulate residence periods in different Member States in order to fulfil the requirement concerning the duration of residence. All periods of legal residence should be fully counted, including residence periods as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection, or residence periods initially based on temporary grounds.

Rights of long-term residents and equal treatment

The proposal also aims to strengthen the rights of long-term residents and their family members. This includes the right to move and work in other Member States, which should be as similar as possible to the right that EU citizens enjoy. Allowing nationals of non-EU countries who are already EU long-term residents in one Member State to change jobs and move to another Member State for work can help improve labour market effectiveness across the EU, addressing skills shortages and offsetting regional imbalances. It can also improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent.

The proposal additionally puts in place a mechanism to ensure a level playing field between the EU long-term residence permit and national permanent residence permits in terms of procedures, equal treatment rights, and access to information, so that nationals from non-EU countries have a real choice between the two permits. It also facilitates circular migration by making it easier for long-term residents to return to their country of origin without losing their rights, benefiting both the countries of origin and the countries of residence.

Policy timeline

  • 2022

The Commission presented a proposal for a Recast Long-term residents Directive.

  • 2019

Second implementation report, linked to the Fitness check on legal migration.

  • 2011

Directive (2011/51/EU) amends the Directive to also cover beneficiaries of international protection is adopted.

  • 2011

First implementation report on the Directive 20003/109/EC.

  • 2003

Directive (2003/109/EC) on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents is adopted.

  • 2001

Proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents.

Documents