Changes in immigration status and purpose of stay in Belgium and the EU (EMN Inform)

This EMN Inform summarises the main findings of the EMN Study 'Changes in immigration status and purpose of stay'.

Background information

This EMN Inform summarises the main findings of the EMN study “Changes in immigration status and purpose of stay". The Study was based on contributions from EMN National Contact Points in 24 Member States (the national reports are available here).

The Study examined the different legal frameworks, procedures and practices in place in the Member States to enable third-country nationals to change migration status, as well as the conditions associated with such changes. It also looked at existing obstacles and good practices.

Inform: some findings

  • In most cases, Member States require TCNs to lodge a first residence application from abroad. However, when a TCN is already (legally) residing on the territory of a Member State, s/he is often allowed to apply for a change of the existing migration status without having to leave the country.
  • All Member States have at least some legal possibilities to allow for changes of migration statuses (they are more or less restrictive). The main drivers of Member States to allow for such changes are primarily economic in nature.
  • The admission criteria and conditions when applying for a change of status do not differ much from those for first time applicants in the majority of Member States. Where criteria differ, they are in most cases reduced in comparison to those for first time applicants.
  • Changes from education reasons into another status are those most often legally allowed in the Member States and they are also the changes which are most often made in the EU. Changes from remunerated activities are the second most frequent changes made in the EU. Although often legally possible, changes from family reasons are least frequent.
  • Few Member States have evaluated the effectiveness or impact of national policies allowing changes of status. Some studies do exist (e.g. studies carried out in France and Spain showed that legislative changes facilitating status change can make a positive contribution to the economy as well as facilitate integration).
  • Member States also highlighted some challenges encountered, in particular with regard to the absence of research on status changes ; misuse and abuse of the change of status by migrants or their sponsors or employers ; and a lack of access to information on status change possibilities (e.g. in Belgium).
  • Good practices have been identified in several Member States, mostly with regard to the ability to retain talent by offering status change opportunities, in particular of international students who have successfully completed their studies.

Please find additional information in the attached Inform.

Publication Date:
Thu 28 Jul 2016
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