Most of the Serbian citizens who had a problem with a residence permit for staying in the EU countries have returned to Serbia.
However, the official Brussels says that there is a possibility of temporary legalization of residence. The national airline Air Serbia departs from Serbia twice a day to evacuate citizens who are stranded abroad due to the interruption of international traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic announced.
Calls for repatriation to Serbia are coming from all sides, but priority in the evacuation will be given to students, people who are abroad for medical treatment and those who were travelling on business.
Meanwhile, planes are arriving in Serbia full of expats returning from all over the world, as are buses full of Serbian citizens from Slovenia, Hungary and Austria.
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“These are mostly the people who have a problem with their residence status in the EU countries and who went to the EU to work for a few months thanks to the visa-free regime,” Serbian Minister Dacic told Happy TV.
All other non-priority groups are asked to stay where they are. However, many of them have 90-day tourist visas for the Schengen area that will expire soon.
The European Commission says that, in this situation, citizens will be able to extend their stay without any sanctions. “People who cannot leave the Schengen area after the expiry of their short-stay visa, will be given the opportunity to extend the visa to a period of 180 days,” the Commission says.
In this case, they will be issued with a national long-stay visa or a residence permit covering extended stays in the Schengen countries. This option, they add, is already provided for in the visa legislation and the application for a visa extension in case of force majeure will be free of charge.
“In general, for third-country nationals who are stranded in the European Union and whose visa or residence permit expires as a result of this, or who remain outside the maximum permitted period of stay without a visa, border guards will make an exception if the problem is properly documented”, the European Commission added in a written reply.
The issuing of national visas and residence permits is the responsibility of the Member States where the third-country nationals are located. The German Foreign Ministry explains what the procedure should be like.
“They should contact the Aliens Office in their place of residence before the expiry of the 90 days and ask to have their stay legalised. By applying for visa extension they are already allowed to stay in the country until the Aliens Office makes a decision,” the Ministry said.
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