Greece Adopts New Residency Permits to Address Labor Shortages

Greece Adopts New Residency Permits to Address Labor Shortages

The Greek parliament has passed a new bill allowing migrants to obtain three-year residency and work permits in an effort to address labor shortages in key sectors of the economy.

New Pathways for Migrant Workers

The permits will be available to migrants and asylum seekers who have lived in Greece for at least three years, have no criminal record, and have been offered a job.

Applicants will have until December 2024 to apply for the new residency permits.

An estimated 30,000 migrants, many from Albania, Georgia, Pakistan and the Philippines, are expected to be eligible.

“We don’t want invisible people,” said State Minister Akis Skertsos.

The move aims to help fill vacant jobs that unemployed Greeks seem unwilling to take on, while also improving public order by transitioning undocumented migrants into the legal workforce.

There are currently an estimated 300,000 undocumented migrants in Greece.

ETIAS and Schengen Impacts Still Unclear

The new Greek residency permits raise questions around potential interactions with the upcoming European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

ETIAS is set to launch in May 2025 and will require visa-exempt non-EU citizens to obtain authorization prior to traveling to the Schengen Area.

It remains to be seen whether the new Greek permits would provide exemptions from ETIAS requirements for long-term residents.

For other EU visitors and immigrants to Greece, such as digital nomads, students, and families, the permits also introduce some uncertainty.

More analysis will be needed on if and how the new Greek policy affects EU-wide immigration and travel regulations.

Potential Ripple Effects Across the EU

The move by Greece also highlights how individual EU member states can influence broader European immigration policy.

By proactively addressing domestic labor demands, Greece may encourage other countries to adopt similar targeted residency programs.

This could prompt additional discussion around reforming EU-level immigration policy to account for labor market needs.

However, other EU members may view the Greek permits as overly indulgent and react by tightening their own immigration restrictions.

The ripple effects across the continent remain to be seen.

Regardless, Greece’s residency policy signals a recognition that immigration and access to labor must be jointly managed amidst today’s challenges.

The country’s approach may emerge as a case study for the EU as it continues to balance economic and immigration priorities.

Strengthening the Post-Pandemic Economy

The policy comes as Greece emerges from three international bailouts in 2018 and seeks to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many workers left the Greek workforce during 2020-2021 and have not returned.

The new permits will help fill critical labor shortages and boost key sectors of the economy, including construction, farming, and tourism.

They also create the new role of national coordinator on migrant returns.

The bill passed with broad support from the ruling conservative party, which controls a majority of seats in parliament.

It represents a pragmatic approach to managing migration and comes amidst efforts to increase border security.

A Measured Approach Amidst Broader Reforms

The new residency permits signify a careful effort by Greece to leverage migration for economic gain while also heeding calls for stronger borders.

The policy provides expanded legal pathways for migrants already in the country, but comes alongside tougher restrictions on new arrivals.

With the Greek economy still recovering and labor shortages persisting across sectors, the permits offer a pragmatic compromise.

They aim to fill critical vacancies that have emerged, while also transitioning undocumented migrants into the regulated workforce.

The move reflects a balanced approach as Greece continues to shape its broader migration and economic policies.

While cracking down on illegal entry, the country is also tapping into migrant labor to aid its post-pandemic recovery.

The new permits signify a willingness to adopt nuanced, evidence-based reforms amidst challenging policy tradeoffs.