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New EU rules, new outlooks for foreign students and researchers

The European Council has adopted, on 10 March 2016, its position at first reading on a draft directive aimed at making the European Union more attractive for students and researchers from third countries. The process for creating better residence and entry conditions for foreign researchers and students kick started in 2013, with the commission adopting a proposal on the topic that would set consistent and transparent rules across the EU. 

Final negotiations proceeded in 2015 towards securing new mobility and job-seeking opportunities in the EU, and to regard students and researches as strategically important resources ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth towards objectives of the Europe 2020 framework.

To advance the European Union in the global competition for talent, the directive now provides harmonised conditions for entry and residence, concretely seeking to improve the situation by:

  1. Improving intra-EU mobility:  Through a simple notification procedure, third country nationals engaging in studies or research may now carry out part of their activities in another member state than the country they are positioned in. The researcher mobility-period has been extended to six months.
  2. Work Permission: Allowing students to work at least 15 hours per week outside of studies, will increase self sufficiency in the partial coverage of tuition costs.
  3. Increased time for job market integration: A minimum nine-month time frame is given after completion of educational activities, for job search or setting up of an enterprise.
  4. Conservation of the family: is upheld by allowing next of kin to accompany, and benefit from improved mobility of the researchers.
  5. Extension of new EU rights to more target groups, such as foreign nationals participating in pupil exchange or educational projects, which may be decided by member states.

In May 2016 the European Parliament is expected to vote in approval of the commission’s current position, and a two-year time frame sets the period for member states to adopt the directive into national law, alongside opt-outs for respective states as UK, Ireland and Denmark.

European council