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Admission of non-EU nationals for the purposes of study, training or voluntary service

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Admission of non-EU nationals for the purposes of study, training or voluntary service

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 2004/114/EC — common rules for admitting non-EU nationals for the purposes of study, pupil exchanges, unremunerated training or voluntary service

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It is designed to harmonise EU countries’ laws on conditions for admitting non-EU nationals for study purposes or to take part in pupil exchanges, unpaid training or voluntary service.

KEY POINTS

  • This directive sets out the rules on procedures for allowing non-EU nationals to enter the EU for more than 3 months — to study or to take part in pupil exchanges, unpaid training or voluntary service. EU countries must incorporate the rules on students into their national laws; however, they are free not to do so as regards the other categories.
  • Certain categories of people are not covered by the directive:

    • asylum-seekers and individuals covered by subsidiary forms of protection (i.e. they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm if they were to return to their country of origin) or temporary protection schemes;
    • non-EU nationals who are family members of EU citizens;
    • non-EU nationals who have long-term resident status in an EU country in accordance with Council Directive 2003/109/EC which gives them a right to live in another EU country to study or receive vocational training under certain conditions.

Admission conditions

  • The directive lays down binding rules on admitting students who are nationals of non-EU countries. However, it leaves it up to individual EU countries to decide whether or not to apply its provisions to school pupils, volunteers and unpaid trainees.
  • To be admitted to the EU for the purpose of study, applicants who are not EU citizens must meet a number of general conditions and the following specific conditions. They must:

    • have been accepted by a higher education establishment;
    • have enough resources to cover their subsistence, study and return travel costs;
    • have enough knowledge of the language of the course to be followed (a flexible condition left to the discretion of individual EU countries);
    • pay the fees charged by the establishment concerned before travelling to the EU (a flexible condition left to the discretion of individual EU countries).
  • Under certain conditions, the directive establishes the right for non-EU nationals already admitted to study in one EU country to be admitted to another EU country to continue their studies.
  • For non-EU nationals who are secondary school pupils, the directive covers only organised travel through exchange schemes run by specialised organisations. The following conditions apply:

    • age limits are set by the EU country concerned;
    • the exchange organisation must be licensed by the EU country concerned;
    • the exchange organisation must accept responsibility for subsistence, study, healthcare and return travel costs;
    • the non-EU national must live with a host family.
    • EU countries may choose to limit exchanges with non-EU countries to those that provide exchange opportunities for their own pupils.
  • The directive sets out the following conditions for admitting non-EU nationals to take up unpaid traineeships:

    • applicants must have enough resources to cover their subsistence, training and return travel costs;
    • if a particular EU country so requires, applicants must receive basic language training to equip them with the knowledge they need for the placement.
  • Unpaid trainees or volunteers who, given the nature of their activities or the kind of compensation or remuneration received, are considered under national legislation to be workers, are not covered by this directive.
  • The directive provides for the following conditions where a non-EU national applies to be admitted to a voluntary service scheme:

    • age limits are set by the EU country concerned;
    • an agreement giving a description of tasks, the conditions under which the volunteer is supervised when carrying out those tasks, the working hours, and the resources available to cover travel, subsistence and accommodation costs throughout the stay;
    • the organisation responsible for the voluntary service scheme must accept responsibility for the volunteer’s activities and for subsistence, healthcare and return travel costs;
    • the volunteer must, if the host EU country specifically requires it, be given a basic introduction to the language, history and political and social structures of that country.

Validity and renewal of residence permits

The period of validity of residence permits varies according to the category:

  • students: at least 1 year, renewable if the holder continues to meet the conditions. Where the course of study lasts less than 1 year, the permit is valid for the whole course;
  • school pupils: up to 1 year;
  • unremunerated trainees: the placement is for a maximum of 1 year. In exceptional cases, it may be renewed, once only, and only for such time as is needed to earn a vocational qualification recognised by an EU country;
  • volunteers: up to 1 year. In exceptional cases, if the programme concerned exceeds 1 year, a residence permit corresponding to the period concerned is issued.

Rights of non-EU nationals

The directive states that students can be employed and that they may have the right to engage in self-employed economic activity. However, the host EU country may restrict access to economic activities for the first year of residence.

Procedure and transparency

  • A decision on an application to obtain or renew a residence permit is subject to the following rules:

    • a decision on a residence permit must be taken, and the applicant must be informed of it, within a period that does not make it difficult for the applicant to pursue his/her studies, whilst leaving the authorities responsible enough time to process the application;
    • if the information supplied to back up the application is inadequate, the authorities responsible for examining the application may temporarily stop processing it. They must inform the applicant of any further information they need;
    • a non-EU national applying for a residence permit must be informed of any decision rejecting his/her application. The notification must specify any redress procedures available;
    • where an application is rejected, or a residence permit issued in line with this directive is withdrawn, the person concerned has the right to mount a legal challenge before the authorities of the EU country concerned.
  • The directive allows for an agreement on a fast-track procedure for issuing residence permits or visas to students and pupils between the authority of an EU country with responsibility for the entry and residence of non-EU nationals and a higher education establishment or an organisation running pupil exchange schemes.

Repeal

As of 24 May 2018, Directive (EU) 2016/801 repeals and replaces Directive 2004/114/EC.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It has applied since 12 January 2005. EU countries were required to incorporate it into national law by 11 January 2007.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Council Directive 2004/114/EC of 13 December 2004 on the conditions of admission of third-country nationals for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service (OJ L 375, 23.12.2004, pp. 12-18)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Directive (EU) 2016/801 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing (OJ L 132, 21.5.2016, pp. 21-57)

last update 14.09.2017

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