Immigration Law Currently in Force
On 23 August 2005, the then conservative government in power voted on a new law (Law 3386/2005) that regulates migratory matters and incorporates the EU Directives on the right to family reunification (2003/86) and on the status of long-term residents (2003/109) into the national legal order. This law has been in force since 1 January 2006 but was modified in February 2007 by Law 3536/2007. Both acts (3386/2005 and 3536/2007) included new regularization programs. The aim of these two programs was to legalize the status of specific categories of immigrants who had lived in Greece for several years (the date by which the foreigner had to have come to Greece remained 31 December 2004), but who, for various reasons, had not been able to regularize their stay and employment in the country.
Act 3386/2005 regulates matters of entry, stay and social integration of third country nationals in Greece. EU citizens, refugees and asylum seekers are excluded from its field of effect. The law abolished the existence of separate work and residence permits and introduced a residence permit for different purposes (e.g., for work, study, family reunification, as well as a variety of special reasons, Article 9 of the law). The application fee of 150 euros for issuing a residence permit with a one-year duration remains, but the fee rose to 300 euros and 450 euros for permits with two- and three-year periods of duration, respectively. As a result of protests by immigrant organizations and other institutions, this provision was amended so that now dependent family members do not have to pay the fee.
Law 3386/2005 introduced a residence permit for financial investment activities (Articles 26-27) which is aimed at people who are willing to invest capital of at least 300,000 euros in Greece. There is also a permit for independent financial activity (Articles 24-25) which requires a minimum investment of 60,000 euros and a residence permit for employees of companies of another EU member or a third country who are sent to Greece for a limited period of time by the company they work for. Moreover, the law determines the condition for issuing residence permits for a series of other categories (such as athletes and trainers, intellectuals and artists, financially independent people, practitioners of known religions, scientific researchers, tour guides, students at the Athonias Academy
Articles 53-60 of Law 3386/2005 determine the right and the procedure to family reunification by incorporating the relevant EU directive to the Greek legal order. Law 3536/2007 waives the application fee for residence permits of under-age children. Articles 67-69 incorporate the EU directive for the status of long-term residents into the Greek legal order. A basic knowledge of the Greek language and of Greek history and culture are among the preconditions for acquiring this status. Acquisition of long-term EU resident status was facilitated in 2011 (by Law 4018/2011). Immigrants may now prove their knowledge of Greek language and history through a written test and thus may skip the specific state-run course that Law 3386/2005 prescribed. This facilitation was important not only for the enhanced status of protection that the long-term resident status entails but also because having long-term EU resident status is a prerequisite for applying for naturalization under the provisions of the 3838/2010
Finally, Articles 65 and 66 introduce a Complete Action Plan for the social integration of immigrants based on the respect of their fundamental rights and with the purpose of their successful integration into the Greek society, emphasizing the following areas: certified knowledge of the Greek language, completing introductory courses on Greek history, culture and the Greek way of life, integration to the Greek labor market and active social participation (Article 66). So far, however, hardly any steps have been taken to implement the Action Plan.
Act 3386/2005 also regulates reasons for revoking a residence permit and the procedure of administrative deportation (particularly Article 76). The law continues to prohibit (Article 84) Greek public services, legal entities, organizations of local government, organizations of public utility and organizations of social security to offer services to foreigners who are ‘unable to prove that they have entered and are residing in the country legally.’ The only exception to this prohibition is hospitals in emergency cases and in cases of offering health care to minors (under 18 years of age). Children’s access to the public education system is granted by Law 2910/2001, regardless of their parents’ legal status.
Currently, Parliament is discussing a new comprehensive immigration bill - called the Migration Code (Metanasteftikos Kodikas) - which would incorporate all existing relevant legal provisions concerning immigration into a single text.
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