The visa-free agreement that Serbia has with the European Union is permanent and is being implemented in accordance with all the rules that apply to it, says the Ministry of European Integration (MEI) regarding media reports that official Brussels has warned Serbia that the proposed amendments to the Serbian Citizenship Law are too liberal, and that citizens of certain third countries could use the law’s provisions to use Serbia as a stepping stone on their way to emigrating to the EU.
“As an EU membership candidate, our country’s institutions are in daily contact with the EU representatives to discuss all issues from the accession process, including the amendments to the Citizenship Law”, the Ministry said for Politika daily.
The biggest change in the law concerns a foreigner’s length of stay in our country required for them to get a Serbian passport. Instead of three years, as prescribed by the current law, the amendments suggest that “a foreigner who, on the basis of an approved temporary residence permit, has been living in the Republic of Serbia for at least one year before applying for citizenship can be granted Serbian citizenship”.
Apart from the length of stay, other conditions that the foreigner must fulfil are the following – they have to complete high school or university education in Serbia or possesses a diploma that is recognized by the relevant authority in Serbia or is self-employed or employed by a company that has its headquarters in Serbia and that carries out its business activities here. If the foreigner meets the aforementioned prerequisites, their spouse is also eligible for Serbian citizenship.
On 11th May, the Financial Times reported that “Serbia has stalled plans to hand out passports to Russians and other foreign nationals who have lived just one year in the country, as the EU warned it could suspend visa-free travel for the Balkan nation”.
Furthermore, the British newspaper said that “the European Commission warned that it was monitoring Belgrade’s visa-free regime “in order to prevent and mitigate possible security risks for the EU”. In case the granting of citizenship under investor citizenship schemes is deemed to constitute an increased risk to the internal security and public policy of the member states, the visa-free regime may be suspended,” the commission said in an emailed statement. It added that it had made “clear recommendations” to Belgrade last year to “effectively phase out or refrain from adopting investor citizenship schemes”.
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