European Parliament endorses
new single permit rules

On 13 March 2024, the European Parliament adopted an update to the Single Permit Directive (2011/98/EU), which provides combined work and residence permits for third-country (non-EU) nationals.

The proposed changes would ensure that:

  • Decisions on applications are made within 90 days.
  • A permit holder can apply from within EU territory and change employer.
  • Up to 6 months of unemployment is permitted without having the permit withdrawn.

The new rules now have to be formally approved by the Council. Member states will have two years after the entry into force of the directive to introduce the changes to their national laws. This legislation does not apply in Denmark and Ireland.

Faster decisions on applications

In negotiations, MEPs succeeded in setting a 90-day limit for a decision to be taken on applications for a single permit, compared to the current four months. Procedures on especially complex files might get a 30-day extension and the time to deliver a visa, if necessary, is not included.

New rules will introduce the possibility for a holder of a valid residence permit to apply for a Single Permit also from within the territory, so a person who is legally residing in the EU could request to change their legal status without having to return to their home country.

Change of employer

Under the new rules, single permit holders will have the right to change employer, occupation and work sector. MEPs ensured in negotiations that a simple notification from the new employer would suffice. National authorities will have 45 days to oppose the change. MEPs have also limited the conditions under which this authorization can be subject to labour market tests.

EU states will have the option to require an initial period of up to six months during which a change of employer will not be possible. However, a change during that period would still be possible if the employer seriously breaches the work contract, for example by imposing particularly exploitative working conditions.


If a single permit holder is unemployed, they will have up to three months –or six if they have had the permit for more than two years- to find another job before their permit is withdrawn, compared to two months under the current rules. EU states may choose to offer longer periods. If a worker has experienced particularly exploitative working conditions, member states shall extend by three months the period of unemployment during which the single permit remains valid. If a single permit holder is unemployed for more than three months, member states may require them to provide evidence that they have sufficient resources to support themselves without using the social assistance system.

Support with European immigration

If your business requires support with relocating employees to Europe, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our immigration service provides a personalised and comprehensive immigration strategy aligned to your organisation’s specific needs. From short-term business trips to permanent cross-border assignments, we deliver an efficient, cost-effective and meticulous service to clients. To find out how we can help, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page