Law 4251/2014 (GG A’ 80) “Immigration and Social Integration Code and other provisions” as in force, is the basic legislation concerning the entry and work of third country nationals (i.e. outside the EU) in our country. Chapter D of the above law entitled “Residence for employment and professional activity” describes the ways to enter the country for the purpose of work. Articles 11 to 15 describe the invitation process that concerns the majority of working third-country nationals in Greece. A Joint Ministerial Decision is issued every two years, under Article 11 of Law 4251/2014 setting out the maximum number of third country nationals and their specialties who may work in Greece.
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Legal documents for access to work
Third-country nationals entering our country for the purpose of work must hold one of the following legal documents:
a) Residence permits with right to work. Residence permits are issued either by the local competent Decentralized Administration (Department of Residence Permits) or by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. In some cases, those are issued by the competent authority that had granted the last relevant residence permit (long-term residents, for a period of ten years).
b) Certificate of submission of supporting documents for the issue of a residence permit with the right to work. In accordance with the provisions of Article 8(5) of Law 4251/2014, a third country national who submitted a timely application for the issue or renewal of a residence permit along with all the required supporting documents and has received the relevant certificate, the duration of which is annual, is considered to be legally residing in the country, for as long as this certificate is valid. The holder of a certificate of application for the initial residence permit enjoys the rights provided by the requested residence permit.
In the context of the residence permit renewal, the holder of the certificate enjoys the rights provided by the previous residence permit for which the renewal is requested.
c) Visa with the right to work. The competent authority for the issue of the national visa for work is the consular authority of Greece in the country of origin or residence of the third country national.
d) Beneficiaries of international protection (refugees and beneficiaries of a subsidiary protection status) as well as applicants for international protection (six months after the issue date of the International Protection Applicant’s card. The permit is granted by the Asylum Services.
e) Third country nationals who have been granted a certificate of deferral of removal (Article 24, Law 3907/2011, GG A`7) or a certificate of non-removal for humanitarian reasons (Article 78, Law 3386/2005) by the competent police authority, which is valid, provided that they are holders of a valid work permit, also have access to the labour market. The work permit is issued by the Region of the place of residence of the third country national under Article 3 of the no.53619/735/2015 (B`2631) Joint Ministerial Decision. Holders of the specific work permit may:
i. work exclusively in the agricultural and livestock farming sector, in the sector of domestic work as well as in the textiles sector and
ii. work in the entire territory of the country with the exception of:
- the Regional Units of Evros, Xanthi and Rodopi of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Region
- all the Regional Units of the North Aegean Region
- the Regional Units of Kos, Rhodes, Karpathos and Kalymnos of the South Aegean Region.
f) Work permit for the employment of illegally residing third-country nationals in the agricultural economy under Article 13A of Law 4251/2014. The employer (exclusively in the agricultural sector) may submit to the competent service of the Decentralized Administration of his place of residence an application for the exceptional employment of third country nationals with no residence permit in the country, to address the urgent needs of the agricultural holding. The granted approval for the exceptional employment of third countries nationals constitutes a reason for deferral of removal and the provisions of Article 24 of Law 3907/2011 (GG A’ 7) are applied accordingly. The work permit is issued by the Region of the place of residence of the third country national under Article 3 of the no.53619/735/2015 (GG B’ 2631) Joint Ministerial Decision.
g) Greek nationals, holders of a Special Identity Card, under the provisions of Law 2790/2000 (GG A’ 24) may work with this card.
The Department of Greek Workers’ Support Abroad, the Department for Foreigners’ Work in Greece and the Department of Equal Treatment at Work, Directorate for Individual Regulations, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are responsible for regulating and monitoring the implementation of the legislation on the employment of third country nationals in the Greek territory. You may contact with the above services by calling at 213 1516 540 / 025 / 080 or sending an email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are various circumstances in which one can enter the country for the purpose of work. The procedure and conditions are different depending on whether the entry for work will be long-term (at least one year) or temporary (seasonal work), the sector of employment, whether it concerns an intra-company transfer or a high qualification, etc. In each case, if you are interested in coming to Greece for work, the first step is to find an employer. The employer should then contact the competent agency to do all the procedures required to invite the employee to the country. It should be noted that in the case of an invitation (a procedure called metaklisi – recalling – in Greek language) for long-term dependent work (in any sector) or for seasonal work in the agriculture and livestock sector or for fishermen, there must be a prediction for the position in a joint ministerial decision issued every two years. This decision determines the number and qualifications of third-country nationals who can enter the country for work.
Third-country nationals entering our country for the purpose of work must hold one of the following legal documents:
a) Visa with the right to work Residence permits with right to work.
b) Residence permits with right to work.
c) Certificate of submission of supporting documents for the issue of a residence permit with the right to work.
The following also have access to the work:
- beneficiaries of international protection (refugees and beneficiaries of a subsidiary protection status)
- applicants for international protection (six months after the issue date of the International Protection Applicant’s card).
- third country nationals who have been granted a certificate of deferral of removal or a certificate of non-removal for humanitarian reasons by the competent police authority, which is valid, provided that they are holders of a valid work permit, also have access to the labour market. The work permit is issued by the Region of the place of residence of the third country national. Holders of the specific work permit may work exclusively in the agricultural and livestock farming sector, in the sector of domestic work as well as in the textiles sector. They can
work in the entire territory of the country with the exception of a few close to borders areas.
- Greek expatriates, holders of a Special Identity Card may work with this card.
In Greece, seasonal work is only allowed in the agriculture, the animal husbandry sector and the fishing sector.
Agricultural and livestock sector:
The employer who wishes to employ third-country nationals to work seasonally in the agricultural and livestock sector, submits an application to the competent department (Residence Permit Offices) of the Decentralized Administration with the territorial jurisdiction of the place of work. In the application It must be stated, the number of posts offered, full details of the employees (surname, first name, surname and father’s name, surname and mother’s name, country and date of birth, nationality, passport number, date of issue and expiry, country of issue), the specialty and the period of employment. The employer’s application concerns a total employment period of up to nine (9) months, per twelve (12) month period, and may be extended to a total period of up to five (5) years.
Along with the application, the employer submits, among other things, a valid employment contract which includes:
aa) the type of employment, bb) the place of work, cc) the date of commencement of employment, dd) the duration of employment, ee) the working hours per week or month, ff) the remuneration, which cannot, under any circumstances, be lower than the wages of an unskilled employee, gg) the amount of paid leave and h) any other working condition.
An employer who wishes to hire fishermen submits an application to the competent agency of the Decentralized Administration, in the prefecture where his undertaking is established, or in the area where the relevant ship registry is established, stating the number of posts, the details and nationality of the third-country nationals to be employed, the specialty, and the duration of employment. Along with the application, the employer submits, among other things, an employment contract (in duplicate), signed by him, for each employee, stating the working conditions, the duration of employment and the employee’s remuneration.
The competent consular authority shall issue accordingly visas for seasonal employment to third-country nationals who have been allowed entry for employment in fishery. A visa for employment in fishery shall remain valid for a period equal to the duration of employment, as demonstrated from the relevant labour contract, may not exceed eleven months, and shall grant the right to access the labour market exclusively for the specific employment with a specific employer at whose request it was granted.
There are other cases in which the third-country national can work with a visa. These visas are linked to specific activities and are granted for a short period of time related to the completion of a specific purpose. Such cases concern, for example, members of artistic groups, citizens of third countries for the purpose of providing a service, leaders of organized tourism groups (tour leaders), athletes, coaches and others.
Depending on the type of residence permit, applications for residence permits are submitted to the one-stop service of the Residence Permit Departments of the Decentralized Administration of the applicant’s place of residence or to the Immigration Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum.
Entry visas are granted by the competent Greek consular authority of the third country citizen’s place of residence. On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is a list and contact information for all Greek Authorities around the world:
Additionally, you can find out more about entry visas in detail in the “Immigration Code Manual”, published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greek and English.
Third-country nationals who legally reside in the county may freely move and settle anywhere in its territory.
They also enjoy equal treatment with nationals in terms of labor rights such as employment conditions, the right to strike and to take trade union action, the recognition of diplomas and other professional qualifications, etc.
In addition, they are insured with the relevant insurance organizations and have the same insurance rights as Greek nationals.
The recruitment and employment of third country nationals, without access to employment or who do not hold legal documents, are not allowed.
Employers who employ a foreigner without a work access permit (even if they are legally resident in the country with another type of permit) are fined €1,500 for each legally resident but illegally employed foreigner.
Furthermore, a fine for undeclared work of 10,500 euros is imposed for each undeclared worker.
The recruitment and employment of third country nationals, who do not hold legal documents, are not allowed. The sanctions against the employment of illegally staying third country national are a financial sanction of five thousand euros (5,000 €) per illegally employed. In case of relapse of the employer, within a period of 4 years, this fine is doubled, for each employee. In addition, administrative sanctions are imposed, such as exclusion from public benefits and subsidies as well as temporary or permanent revocation of the operating license or temporary suspension of operations. There are also criminal penalties if the employment of illegally resident citizens is systematic and intentional or if their employment is accompanied by particularly abusive working conditions and / or it concerns minors or victims of human trafficking.
Employers involved in the labor exploitation of third-country nationals face additional fines and administrative and criminal penalties. In particular, when the employment is for the purpose of promoting third-country nationals into prostitution, apart from the other sanctions, the employer is punished with imprisonment of at least two years and a fine of at least 6,000 euros. In case the victim is a minor, the penalties are greater, while in some cases the fine reaches 50,000 – 100,000 euros.
The employer who invites a third-country national for seasonal work in the agricultural and livestock sector must provide the employee with a suitable accommodation, which meets the required health and safety standards. If the seasonal worker is required to pay rent, the employer shall provide the seasonal worker with a rental agreement or equivalent document that clearly states the terms of the rental. In any case, the amount of rent must be proportionate to the seasonal worker’s salary and the quality of the accommodation, while it is not automatically deducted from the seasonal worker’s salary. When the accommodation is not provided by the employer, the employer must provide the competent agency of the Decentralized Administration with proofs that the seasonal worker has his own accommodation, which meets the standards required by law as mentioned above.
Employers, who have breached their obligations during a previous invitation of seasonal workers, cannot submit a new request to invite a third-country national before three years have passed from the date the original breach was discovered.
A visa for the purpose of seasonal work is not granted or revoked when it is found, among other things, that:
- the employer does not fulfill its obligations regarding social security, taxation, labor rights or employment conditions,
- the employer has suffered sanctions for undeclared work or illegal employment and when,
- the employer has not fulfilled the obligations arising from the employment contract.
The Greek legislation (law 4052/2012) provides for the facilitation of complaints by illegally employed immigrants. The illegally staying immigrants can submit themselves or instead, with their consent, to the local labor centers, any complaint provided for by the national legislation against their employer. Helping a third-country nationals in filing a complaint is in no way considered assistance to illegal entry, transit, and residence.
Also, illegally employed third-country nationals can, like any legally employed worker, appeal to the competent courts and competent authorities to claim what is owed and in general to assert their legal rights in accordance with labor legislation. They can also execute the relevant court decisions against their employers, even if they have returned or been forced to return to their country.
Additionally, the legislation (law 4443/2016) provides for fines and sanctions for violating the principle of equal treatment at work. There also provisions for appeal, judicial protection and reversal of the burden of proof as well as protection against countermeasures.
Finally, third-country nationals who have been employed under particularly abusive working conditions or as minors can grant a humanitarian residence. Such conditions are considered to be grossly disproportionate to the working conditions of legally employed workers, having a serious impact on the health and safety of workers, or those that involve gender discrimination or offend human dignity.
The Independent Authority «Labor Inspection» ( https://www.sepe.gov.gr/en/landing-page-en/ ) is the enforcement authority intended to guarantee a decent working environment, ensuring the application of labour law in both the labour relations field, as well as occupational safety and health . Employers who violate labor laws face administrative and criminal penalties and fines.
Immigrant workers can also turn to the Greek Ombudsman ( https://www.synigoros.gr/en/gr ) for any violation of their rights. The Ombudsman has been designated as the authority responsible for monitoring and promoting the implementation of the principle of equal treatment in the field of work. The Ombudsman, who is an independent administrative authority, conducts investigations following a complaint or ex officio and prepares findings and reports.
Frequently Asked Questions in other languages
- Law 4251/2014 (GG A’ 80)
- Law 4540/2018 (GG A’ 91)
- Law 4636/2019 (GG A’ 169)
- Joint Ministerial Decision No.5269/139/2021 setting the maximum number of residence permits for work of third country nationals for the years 2021 and 2022 (GG B’ 430)
- GG 545 B` 2021 for an error correction in Joint Ministerial Decision no. 5269/139/3.2.2021 setting the maximum number of residence permits for work of third country nationals for the years 2021 and 2022 (GG B’ 430).