Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 30/11/20


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Persons entering the asylum procedure in Serbia do not have an ipso facto right to access the labour market.[1] However, persons who seek asylum while possessing a work permit on other grounds may continue working on the basis of that permit.  

Asylum seekers whose asylum applications have not been decided upon through no fault of their own within 9 months of being lodged have the right to be issued a work permit valid for 6 months with the possibility of extension for as long as they remain in the asylum procedure.[2] That provision is highly disputable considering that asylum seekers wait for a long period of time to submit their asylum application. On average, from the registration of asylum seekers at a police station until the lodging of an asylum application it takes 130 days. For persons residing in Reception Centres this period is even longer since they have to be relocated to one of the Asylum Centres where the Asylum Office conducts the asylum procedure. This practice has discouraging effect on asylum seekers to genuinely consider Serbia as a destination country.

Also, one of the biggest concerns regarding access to the labour market is the fact that 3 out 5 Asylum Centres are located in remote areas in Serbia, where the unemployment rate in general is quite high (Tutuin, Sjenica and Bogovađa) and where access to job opportunities is extremely limited. For that reason, and bearing in mind that genuine asylum seekers strive to integrate into society as quickly as possible, referring asylum seekers to remote asylum centres or in reception centres has an evident and discouraging effect on their aspiration to stay in Serbia.

The Rulebook on Work Permits[3] governs the procedure for issuing and extending work permits, as well as the criteria that one must meet in order to receive the permit. In order to be issued a personal work permit asylum seeker need to fill in the application form, pay the administrative fee and submit a certified copy of the identity card and a certified copy of asylum application.


[1] Article 57 Asylum Act.

[2] Article 13 Employment of Foreigners Act, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, no. 128/2014.

[3] Official Gazette no. 63/18, 56/19.


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection