The Albanian Parliament voted in favor of a law that will facilitate the residence application processes for immigrants, while meeting different types of residents.
The amendments to the law on foreigners aim to bring Albanian law into line with the acquis of the European Union while also hoping to attract more foreign investment. It will expand the categories of foreigners who will be granted residence permits, in particular retirees, digital nomads, stateless persons and those who wish to purchase property in the country.
It also plans to facilitate the process by issuing visas online and a single application for a residence permit.
Currently, those wishing to live in Albania must apply for two separate permits, one from the border and immigration police and the other from the local municipality. Under the new rules, they will make a single request, ensuring a faster and cheaper process.
In addition, students and researchers will be able to apply for a special permit allowing them to stay in the country for at least nine months after their research or studies, which will give them time to look for a job.
Retirees will be allowed to apply for a one-year permit initially. They must prove that their annual pension is at least 1.2 million leks (9,800 euros). They must also be able to prove that they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members, but no real figures have been provided. They must also provide proof of an Albanian bank account to which the pension will be transferred. Other requirements are health insurance, proof of accommodation in Albania (a notarized lease or proof of ownership) and criminal record checks from their home country.
It is likely that after the first year they will be able to apply for a two-year permit, another two-year permit, five years, and then permanent residence.
As for digital nomads, again, they can apply for a one-year permit first, then two years, five years and permanent residence.
They must provide an employment contract with a foreign company, a service contract with a foreign contractor, or a contract with a client they will work with for specific work that can be done remotely.
They are also required to provide proof of financial means to support themselves and their family members (no exact figure is provided), proof of an Albanian bank account to which the funds will be transferred, a proof of accommodation in Albania (as for retirees), health insurance, and a clean criminal record check.
Other required documents include a passport and sometimes a birth certificate. All documents must be certified or apostilled in the country of origin.
While this is good news for those wishing to live in Albania, some issues have been raised. Namely the fact that Albanian banks require a residence permit before opening an account for foreign residents. Second, self-employed digital nomads may not have a contract in place to present to the authorities. Finally, some countries may have restrictions and problems transferring pensions to Albania. Others say it’s a good start that will make the application and residency process much easier for them.