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Admission and residence of researchers from third countries

The mobility of researchers is a key element in the acquisition and transfer of knowledge. Member States, working with the Commission, need to step up their action to facilitate the entry and residence of researchers from third countries. The European Research Area is the lynchpin of European Union (EU) research policy, and supporting the mobility of researchers is a key instrument in making it a reality.

ACT

Council Directive 2005/71/EC of 12 October 2005 on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for the purpose of scientific research [Official Journal L 289 of 3 November 2005].

SUMMARY

The Human Resources and Mobility part of the Commission's Sixth Framework Programme of research earmarks EUR 1.6 billion for support for the training, mobility and career development of researchers. The European Union needs at least 700 000 additional researchers by 2010 if it is to achieve the objective set by the Barcelona European Council of spending 3% of the Member States' GDP (gross domestic product) on research and technological development.

The purpose of the Directive is to introduce a special procedure governing the entry and residence of third-country nationals coming to carry out a research project in the European Community for a period of more than three months. The aim is to facilitate the admission and mobility of researchers by relieving the immigration authorities in the Member States of the task of checking whether the research project is credible and whether the researcher has the necessary skills to see it through.

Scope

The Directive applies to third-country nationals, except where more favourable provisions apply under bilateral or multilateral agreements concluded between the Community, or the Community and its Member States, and one or more non-member countries.

However, it does not apply to:

  • applicants for asylum or subsidiary protection or under temporary protection schemes;
  • doctoral students conducting research relating to their theses as students (as they are covered by Directive 2004/114/EC on the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for the purposes of studies, vocational training or voluntary service);
  • third-country nationals whose expulsion has been suspended for reasons of fact or law;
  • researchers seconded by a research organisation to another research organisation in a different Member State.

Research organisations

Any research organisation wishing to host a researcher must first be approved by the Member State in which it is located.

To make it easier to access information, lists of approved research organisations must be published each year in the Member States. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, authorisations granted to a research organisation will be valid for a minimum of five years.

The Member States may require a written commitment from the research organisation, stating that if the researcher resides unlawfully in the territory of the Member State concerned, the organisation will be responsible for reimbursing the cost of the researcher's subsistence or return paid out of public funds. The research organisation's financial responsibility will end six months after the end of the hosting agreement at the latest.

A research organisation wishing to host a researcher must sign a hosting agreement with the latter, i.e. a legal contract whereby the researcher undertakes to complete the research project and the organisation undertakes to host the researcher subject to the researcher being issued with a residence permit.

Research organisations may sign hosting agreements only if:

  • the research project has been accepted by the relevant authorities in the organisation after examination of the purpose and duration of the research, the availability of the necessary financial resources and the researcher's qualifications;
  • the researcher will have sufficient monthly resources during his or her stay, including all-risk sickness insurance, to avoid having recourse to the host State's social welfare system. No minimum amount is set in the proposal, as the decision will be taken by the individual Member States;
  • the hosting agreement specifies the legal relationship of researchers and their working conditions.

The hosting agreement will automatically end if the researcher is not admitted or once the legal relationship between the researcher and the research organisation comes to an end.

Research organisations will promptly inform the authority designated for the purpose by the Member States of any occurrence likely to prevent implementation of the hosting agreement.

Admission of researchers

Member States must admit researchers if they:

  • present a valid passport or equivalent travel documents;
  • present a hosting agreement signed with a research organisation;
  • present a statement of financial responsibility issued by the research organisation;
  • are not considered to pose a threat to public policy, public security or public health.

Member States must issue a residence permit for one year or more and renew it annually. If the research project is scheduled to last less than one year, the residence permit must be issued for the duration of the project. Member States may withdraw or refuse to renew a residence permit for reasons of public policy, public security or public health.

Member States may decide to award a residence permit to a researcher's family members, whose permit will last for the same length of time as the researcher's (provided that their travel documents are valid).

Member States may withdraw or refuse to renew a previously issued residence permit if the latter was acquired fraudulently or if it transpires that the holder of the permit did not meet or no longer meets the entry and residency conditions stipulated, or if he or she is residing in the country for reasons other than those authorised.

Member States may withdraw or refuse to renew a residence permit for reasons of public policy, public security or public health.

Researchers' rights

Researchers have the right to enter and reside on the territory of the Member State which has admitted them and to conduct the research project there. Holders of a residence permit will be entitled to equal treatment with nationals as regards:

  • recognition of diplomas, certificates and other professional qualifications;
  • working conditions, including pay and dismissal;
  • social insurance as defined by national legislation;
  • tax concessions;
  • access to goods and services and the supply of goods and services made available to the public.

This new residence permit must also allow sufficient mobility for part of the research project to be conducted on the territory of another Member State.

Procedure and transparency

Member States must determine whether applications for residence permits are to be made by the researcher or by the research organisation concerned. Applications must be submitted:

  • either in the researcher's country of residence via the diplomatic or consular authorities of the Member State where he/she wishes to conduct the research; or
  • directly on the territory of the Community, if the researcher is lawfully present there.

The relevant authorities in the Member State must notify the applicant in writing of their decision regarding his/her application for admission or for the renewal of his/her residence permit as soon as possible. Reasons must be given for any decision refusing, amending, refusing to renew or withdrawing a residence permit. Third-country nationals have the right to appeal to the courts of the Member State concerned against any decision.

Transposition

Member States are required to transpose the Directive by 31 December 2006. By virtue of Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocols on the positions of Denmark and of the United Kingdom and Ireland, annexed to the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, the Directive will not apply to those countries.

Reports

Periodically, and for the first time no later than three years after the entry into force of this Directive, the Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of this Directive in the Member States and shall propose such amendments as may appear necessary.

Pursuant to the principle of subsidiarity, Member States have to settle matters such as what financial resources researchers must have in order to be admitted, the length of the residence permit and the option of adopting more favourable arrangements and extending the benefits of the admission procedure.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2005/71/EC23.11.200512.10.2007OJ L 289, 3.11.2005.

RELATED ACTS

Council Directive 2004/114/ECon the conditions of admission of third-country nationals for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Researchers in the European Research Area: one profession, multiple careers [COM(2003) 436 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission: the role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge [COM(2003) 58 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: the Commission's Action Plan for skills and mobility [COM(2002) 72 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission: Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality [COM(2001) 678 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Recommendation on the European Charter for Researchers and on a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers [COM(2005) 576 final - not published in the Official Journal].

 
Last updated: 14.02.2007
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