Long-term resident status
EU countries must recognise long-term resident status after five years of continuous legal residence. Absences from the EU country for periods of less than six consecutive months (and not exceeding ten months in total within the five-year period) or for specific reasons provided for by national law (e.g. military service, secondment for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence.
In order to obtain long-term resident status, non-EU nationals must prove that they have, for themselves and their family (if dependent):
- stable resources sufficient to live without recourse to the social assistance system of the EU country concerned;
- sickness insurance.
EU countries may require non-EU nationals to comply with further integration conditions (such as sufficient knowledge of a national language of the EU country concerned).
EU countries may refuse to grant long-term resident status on grounds of public policy or public security.
The competent authority must take a decision on whether to grant long-term resident status no more than six months after the application is lodged. Decisions to reject an application must be notified in writing to the person concerned, in accordance with the procedures under national legislation, stating the reasons and indicating the redress procedures available and the deadline for action on the part of the applicant. Long-term residents will receive a permanent residence permit that is standard for all EU countries, valid for at least five years and automatically renewable.
Long-term resident status may be withdrawn only on certain grounds that are set out in the directive (absence from the EU territory for more than 12 consecutive months, fraudulent acquisition of the status or adoption of a measure to expel the person concerned).
Persons who have acquired long-term resident status will enjoy equal treatment with nationals as regards:
- access to paid and unpaid employment, conditions of employment and working conditions (working hours, health and safety standards, holiday entitlements, remuneration and dismissal);
- education and vocational training, recognition of qualifications and study grants;
- welfare benefits (family allowances, retirement pensions, etc.) and sickness insurance;
- social assistance (minimum income support or retirement pensions, free health care, etc.);
- social benefits, tax relief and access to goods and services;
- freedom of association and union membership and freedom to represent a union or association;
- free access to the entire territory of the EU country concerned.
In certain cases, EU countries may restrict equal treatment with nationals with respect to access to employment and to education (e.g. by requiring proof of appropriate language proficiency). In the field of social assistance and protection, EU countries may limit equal treatment to core benefits. They are nevertheless free to add to the list of benefits in which they grant equal treatment with nationals as well as to provide equal treatment in additional areas.
Long-term residents enjoy enhanced protection against expulsion. The conduct on which expulsion decisions are based must constitute an actual and sufficiently serious threat to public policy or public security. Such decisions may not be founded on economic considerations. EU countries undertake to consider specific factors before taking a decision to expel a long-term resident (age of the person concerned, duration of residence, etc.).
The provisions of the directive do not prevent EU countries from issuing permanent residence permits on terms that are more favourable than those set out in the directive. Nevertheless, such residence permits do not confer the right of residence in the other EU countries.