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Summaries of EU Legislation

Admission and residence of researchers from non-EU countries

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Admission and residence of researchers from non-EU countries


Directive 2005/71/EC on a specific procedure for admitting non-EU scientific researchers


  • It introduces a special procedure for the entry and residence of nationals coming from non-EU countries to carry out a research project in the EU for a period of more than 3 months.
  • The procedure establishes approved research organisations as key actors in the immigration procedure, as they play a crucial role in the thematic assessment of the candidate and his/her research project.


The directive applies to non-EU nationals, except where more favourable provisions apply under bilateral or multilateral agreements concluded between the EU, or the EU and its member countries, and one or more non-EU country.

It does not apply to:

  • applicants for asylum or subsidiary protection or under temporary protection schemes;
  • doctoral students conducting research relating to their theses as students (covered by Directive 2004/114/EC on the conditions of entry and residence of non-EU nationals for the purposes of studies, vocational training or voluntary service);
  • non-EU nationals whose expulsion has been suspended for reasons of fact or law;
  • researchers seconded by a research organisation to another research organisation in a different EU country.

Research organisations

Any research organisation wishing to host a researcher must first be approved by the EU country in which it is located. These authorisations are usually valid for a minimum of 5 years. Each year, every EU country must publish a list of approved research organisations.

Research organisations must sign a ‘hosting agreement’, a legal contract, with the researcher. It requires that:

  • the researcher undertakes to complete the research project;
  • the organisation agrees to host the researcher, subject to the researcher being issued with a residence permit.

Admission of researchers

EU countries must admit researchers if they:

  • present a valid passport or equivalent travel documents;
  • present a hosting agreement signed with a research organisation;
  • present a statement of financial responsibility issued by the research organisation;
  • are not considered to pose a threat to public policy, public security or public health.

EU countries must issue a residence permit for 1 year or more and renew it annually. If the research project is scheduled to last less than 1 year, the residence permit must be issued for the duration of the project. Permits may be issued to a researcher’s family members for the same duration.

Holders of a residence permit will be entitled to equal treatment with nationals as regards:

  • recognition of diplomas, certificates and other professional qualifications;
  • working conditions, including pay and dismissal;
  • social insurance as defined by national legislation;
  • tax concessions;
  • access to goods and services and the supply of goods and services made available to the public.


Each EU country decides whether applications for residence permits are to be made by the researcher or by the research organisation.

Applications must be submitted in the researcher’s country of residence via the diplomatic or consular authorities of the EU country where he/she wishes to conduct the research.

EU countries, in their national legislation, may also provide for the possibility for applicants to apply from their territory.


Directive (EU) 2016/801 repeals and replaces Directive 2005/71/EC with effect from 24 May 2018.


It has applied since 23 November 2005. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 12 October 2007.


The mobility of researchers is a key element in the acquisition and sharing of knowledge. Simplifying entry and residence procedures for researchers from countries outside the EU can help achieve this.

For more information, see:


Council Directive 2005/71/EC of 12 October 2005 on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for the purpose of scientific research (OJ L 289, 3.11.2005, pp. 15-22)


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)

Commission Recommendation of 11 March 2005 on the European Charter for Researchers and on a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (OJ L 75, 22.3.2005, pp. 67–77)

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 09.08.2016