A combined work and residence permit in the European Union

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement reached on 18 December between the European Parliament and the Council on the revised Single-Permit Directive.

These updated rules set in place a single application procedure for a combined EU work and residence permit (a ‘single permit').


Annually, 2 to 3 million nationals from non-EU countries come to the EU legally, in contrast to more than 300,000 irregular arrivals in 2022. Nearly 24 million third country nationals live in the EU. A well-managed legal migration providing legal alternatives for people to come to the EU has an impact on reducing irregular migration, boost the economy, as well as strengthening cooperation with international partners.

More information ? European Parliament, Asylum and migration: deal for more solidarity and responsibility sharing

Legal migration is a key pillar in the comprehensive approach to manage migration in a fair and dignified way, as set out in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. In April 2022, the Commission presented the Skills and Talent package: an ambitious and sustainable outlook to legal migration. To improve the previous legislation on single permits, this package included a proposal for a recast of the Single-Permit Directive, alongside a proposal for a revised Long-Term Residence Directive – where negotiations are still ongoing with co-legislators. Once implemented, these updated rules will deliver on legal, operational and policy initiatives that will benefit the EU's economy, strengthen cooperation with international partners and improve overall migration management in the long-term.

Attract Talent

To remain globally competitive, the EU must be able to attract talent to those areas where it needs the most. Addressing labour market needs with the right talent and skills will foster growth and innovation . The new rules will contribute to this objective by streamlining the application procedure for the single permit, while making it more effective for non-EU workers and employers. This revision also improves the safeguarding of non-EU workers' rights and their protection from labour exploitation.

Changes ?

Once adopted, this revised legislation will:

  • Enable non-EU nationals to apply for a single permit not only from non-EU countries but also from a Member State if they already reside in that Member State on the basis of a residence permit;
  • Introduce faster application procedures to facilitate international recruitment;
  • Provide for stronger protection of workers from non-EU countries, also by introducing the right to change employer and a minimum period of unemployment during which their single permit should not be withdrawn; this means that within the period of validity of the permit, workers will have the right to change employers while continuing to reside legally in the Member State.
  • Ensure that beneficiaries of protection in accordance with national law can benefit from equal treatment rights if they are allowed to work;
  • Include new obligations for Member States to provide for inspections, monitoring mechanisms and sanctions against employers who violate the rights of non-EU workers, including equal treatment rights.

Next steps

The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council is now subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. Once published in the Official Journal, the Directive will enter into force 20 days after publication and Member States will have 2 years to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law.

For More Information

Proposal for a Directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for non-EU nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State

Commission Website on legal migration

Skills and Talent Mobility – EU Talent Pool

Skills and Talent Package

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