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Home » Europe, Expat Life, Immigration, country profiles, headline

Immigration: Hungary

Comprehensive immigration profile on Hungary for those considering a relocation.

By Lorna Kralik
November 30, 2010

hungary budapestAs relocation experts, at Move One we understand how important it is to make the transition to your new home as seamless as possible. To that end, Move One profiles a country every month, providing an in-depth look at relocation, immigration, moving and pet transportation issues. This month’s spotlight focuses on immigration to Hungary.

For the better part of this decade, Hungary has focused on bringing its immigration policy in line with European Union law. In 2000, the government of Hungary established the Office of Immigration and Nationality in preparation for its accession to the EU in 2004. Hungary has been a member of the Schengen Area since 2007.

Despite accession to the EU, migration to Hungary has not increased dramatically. According to data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, foreigners constitute approximately 1.5-2 percent of the population.

How to begin

In order to determine your particular immigration needs, the following information should be shared with a Move One immigration professional:

  1. Name of the company
  2. Citizenship of the transferee
  3. Intended starting date of arrival/employment
  4. Location of the work place (if different from the company’s address)
  5. Payroll information of the transferee (foreign or Hungarian)
  6. Job position of the transferee
  7. Whether family members will join the main applicant
  8. Expected length of stay in Hungary
  9. Whether foreigner has lived in Hungary previously
  10. Whether foreigner is residing in Hungary at the moment of application and holds any type of permit for Hungary
  11. Whether assignee resides and has permits in any EU country

With this information in hand, Move One can assess the case and determine the applicable procedure which needs to be followed.

Business travel to Hungary

Business visitors must limit their activities while in Hungary.  They may usually only attend business meetings, negotiations, exchange programs, conferences, seminars, congresses and workshops. Those traveling on business are also permitted to attend auctions, exhibitions, shows and other events that are commercial in nature. Assembly and maintainanance of equipment imported into Hungary is also allowed, if the duties are considered technical in nature, and the activity does extend beyond 15 days.

Please contact Move One if you are unsure whether your visit may be classified as business.

Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland may enter the territory of Hungary without a visa, provided they carry a valid ID card issued by a competent national authority. EEA Citizens may stay on Hungarian territory for business purposes for up to 90 days.  If their stay exceeds 90 days, they should apply for residence registration at the immigration authority in Hungary in case of work activity.

The Hungarian government has established visa waiver agreements with certain non-EU countries, exempting their nationals from the visa obligation if they are traveling to Hungary and hold a valid travel document entitling them to visa-free travel. A full list of can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary.

Citizens who cannot avail of a visa waiver program (and therefore do require a visa) need to obtain a Schengen type C, short-stay visa for business. Depending on the length of travel, either an invitation letter from the host company on official letterhead, or an invitation letter approved by Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be required. In such cases, business visas are typically issued for up to 90 days.

If a business visitor stays in Hungary for more than 30 days, their address has to be registered within three days of arrival.  This is applicable to all business visitors, regardless of whether they are staying in a hotel or private accommodation.

Schengen Agreement

Hungary is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement. As a result, foreigners who are traveling on business, and are coming from visa free countries, or holding Schengen visas, may cross borders without inspection within the Schengen area.  This is only possible, however, once the initial, legal entry into the Schengen area has been made. Dependents of assignees traveling with Schengen visa are advised to carry a statement from the spouse confirming their realtionship.

The maximum stay allowed in Schengen countries is an accumulated period of up to 90 days.  Authorities will take into account stays in all member countries within any six-month (180-day) period.

The member countries who have fully implemented the Schengen Agreement are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

Working in Hungary

In order for non-EU nationals to legally work and stay in Hungary, a work permit, a residence permit and address registration are all necessary.  The approximate overall processing time is two to three months. The document gathering stage of the process is cumbersome, as most application documents must be translated.

The immigration procedure for those intending to work in Hungary can be divided into five general stages:

  1. Work force demand. The work permit will only be issued to the foreigner after the local labor office confirms that no Hungarian citizens could fill in the specific position within 15 days. Please note that an original diploma translated into Hungarian must be arranged prior to the start of the immigration process, as it will be needed for the first stage.
  2. Work permit. The individual work permit application must be submitted to the local labor office. Once issued, it may be valid for maximum of two years and may be renewed for an additional two-year periods.Visa-free nationals may enter Hungary wihtout a visa, visa nationals, however, will need to apply for a visa and residence permit at the embassy in their home country before entering Hungary.
  3. Visa/residence permit. Nationals requiring an entry visa for Hungary must apply at the consulate in their home country for a Type D work visa and residence permit.  These applications are based on the work permit approval. Work visas are valid for 30 days and a single entry. The residence permit will be issued upon entry to Hungary and is valid for the period of the work permit.
  4. Residence permit and address card.  The residence permit needs to be collected in Hungary within the first 30 days of arrival in the country. The address of the assignee and family needs to be registered with the authorities.  This step requires that the applicant make a personal visit to the registering authority.  The address card will be issued during the visit.
  5. Tax and social security cards. As a final step, both tax and social security registration need to be arranged.

Neither EU nor EEA citizens require a work permit to become employees in Hungary, although a notification to the labor office will need to be submitted on the start day of the employment, after a applications for tax and social security cards are completed.

EU and EEA nationals will need to register with the immigration office within 90 days of arrival in Hungary. Subsequently, they will also need to obtain an address card.

Important to Note

  • All foreign documents must be officially translated into Hungarian by the Hungarian Translation Office (OFFI), or by an embassy or consulate of Hungary.
  • A foreigner’s passport needs to be valid for at least 2 years and 3 months from the date of submission for residence visa purposes. The residence visa has a sticker format, so foreigners must have at least two empty pages in their passport.
  • Exemptions from work permit requirements exist, and should be verified individually.
  • The residence permit may be submitted in Hungary only if the stay has not exceeded the 90 days presence that is permitted within the Schengen area. Passport stamps are closely reviewed.
  • Any address change has to be reported within three working days,  and a new address card must be obtained.
  • Residence permit renewal applications must be submitted at least 30 days before the expiration date.
  • Permanent residence may be an option for applicants who have resided in Hungary legally for at least three consecutive years.
  • Work permits must be withdrawn within five working days of an assignment/employment’s end. If the company fails to arrange the withdrawal of a foreigner’s work permit within five days of departure, they will be fined. The amount of the penalty doubles with each additional person who leaves the company without arranging work permit withdrawal.

Our articles are for informational purposes only. If you are considering a move to the Czech Republic for either business or longer-term work, specialists at Move One can help set you and your company on the right track. Please feel free to contact our offices with questions at any stage of the immigration process.

Rest of the series:

Relocation: Hungary
Pet Transportation: Hungary
Moving: Hungary

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