ALBANIA DESTINATION GUIDE

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1 ALBANIA DESTINATION GUIDE 1. Basic info a) Capital: Tirana (Tirane) b) Population: 4, 247,426 1 c) Area: total: 28,748 sq km d) Currency: Lek (ALL) e) Unemployment rate: % (official rate) General conditions of entry, transit and visa information Entry and Transit Requirements Foreigners should meet the following criteria to enter the Republic of Albania: Requirements of entry and transit and exit Foreigners should meet the following criteria to enter the Republic of Albania: 1. A foreigner who intends to enter, leave or transit in the Republic of Albania, should present at the border crossing point before an official of the Border and Migration Police sufficient travel documentation, in conformity with the Albanian Law on Foreigners and meet the following conditions: Possesses a valid document, specified in this law, with a validity period of at least 3 months before the date of its expiry, or not to exceed a period of 3 months from the permissible date of stay for persons that have the right to enter without a visa in the Republic of Albania; have a border document, issued in compliance with an international agreement, for small transborder circulation; Have a laissez-passer issued by international organizations, in the framework of the performance of duties and missions, as assigned by them such as the Organization of the United Nations for its personnel and subordinate agencies; the European Union, the Council of Europe or NATO as well as any other document that is valid in the framework of any international agreement, ratified by the Republic of Albania; 1 June 2010, Ministry of Interior 2 Albanian National Institute of Statistics: This Guide has been updated as part of the Migration for Development in the Western Balkans (MIDWEB) project, which received financial assistance from the European Commission IPA 2009 Multi-beneficiary Programme 2. Revised April 2011

2 be provided with an entry visa, if required (accompanied with supporting documents on the bases of which the visa was issued, or that prove the motive of entry) and possesses financial means, as defined in this law and the Decision Council of Ministers; be equipped with a residence permit, issued by the competent Albanian central authority; is not subject of a removal order, forced removal, expulsion or prohibition of entry or stay in the Republic of Albania; is not considered a threat to public order or security and does not infringe on the international relations of the Republic of Albania with other countries; has not been declared un undesirable person according to this law 2. In case of transit in the Republic of Albania, a foreigner should submit evidence that he is permitted to enter to the destination country and that will leave the Albanian territory. 3. With the exception of asylum seekers, the minor under 18 years of age applies for a visa or residence permit, and passes the border crossing points accompanied or not accompanied by adults. In cases when the minor is not accompanied by any adult, the application and passage through the border crossing points is done if he/she has been given permission by his parents or legal guardian. Citizens of countries who need visas to enter Albania, when equipped with the "Schengen", type "C", for short stay, and type "D", with multiple entry / exit, and with residence permit, issued by the member countries of "Schengen" are allowed to enter and stay in the Republic of Albania within the validity period of the visa or residence permit, without having to be issued a visa from the relevant Albanian authorities. a) Foreign nationals coming from the following countries can enter the Republic of Albania without a visa: No Country With passport With ID card 1. Andorra x 2. Argentina x 3. Australia x x 4. Austria x x 5. Belgium x x 6. Bosnia & X Herzegovina 7. Brazil X 8. Bulgaria X x 9. Canada x x 10. Chile x 11. Croatia x 12. Cyprus x x 13. Czech Republic x x 14. Denmark x x 15. Estonia x x 16. Finland x x 17. France x x 18. Germany x x 19. Great Britain X x 20. Greece x x 21. Holland x x 22. Holy See x 2

3 23. Hungary x x 24. Ireland x x 25. Iceland x x 26. Israel x 27. Italy x x 28. Japan x 29. Kosovo x x 30. Latvia x X 31. Liechtenstein x 32. Lithuania x x 33. Luxembourg x x 34. Macedonia x 35. Malaysia x 36. Malta x x 37. Monaco x 38. Montenegro x 39. New Zealand x x 40. Norway x x 41. Poland x x 42. Portugal x x 43. Romania x x 44. San Marino x x 45. Serbia x 46. South Korea x 47. Singapore x 48. Slovakia x x 49. Slovenia x x 50. Spain x x 51. Sweden x x 52. Switzerland x x 53. Turkey x 54. USA x x An entry stamp will be issued to the foreigners form the above mentioned countries, at the point of entry that is valid for a stay of up to 90 days. For stays exceeding 90 days, those interested must apply for a Residency Permit at the Regional Directories of Border and Migration in the cities they are staying, 30 days prior to expiry of the residence permit issued to them. b) Visitors with a diplomatic or service passport coming from the following countries do not need a visa: Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Costa Rica, Moldova, Russia, South Africa, Serbia, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam. All other foreigners should be provided with a visa at the diplomatic mission or consulate of the Republic of Albania, where they reside or consular representations that cover services for the country of residence before entering the territory of the Republic of Albania. Visa application form found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: c) The list of countries that apply in our consular sections in neighbouring countries or in other destination countries for tourism purposes is: Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Salvador, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela. 3

4 3. Immigration for employment purposes a) conditions of entry and stay of foreign workers (including types of work permits and work visas and requirements, and responsible authorities) Albanian Law on Foreigners with Nr. 9959, dated , which regulates the entry, stay, movement or employment of foreign nationals in the Republic of Albania has entered into force on 01 December Work Permit The Albanian Law on Foreigners, aims to include and implement the commitments undertaken by the Government of the Republic of Albania in the framework of the National Plan of Approximation of Legislation and Implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The new Law also reflects the provisions of the acquis communautaire in the field of migration, recent recommendations of the EU, especially the European Commission Directive (CCOM/2001/386final-CNS 2001/0154, Brussels, 11 July 2001) "On the conditions of entry and stay of citizens from a third country in order to exercise economic activities, such as employee or self-employed", but also takes into consideration the good experiences of legislation and administrative practices of some EU member states, such as, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, but also of some states like Bulgaria and Romania. Given the fact that the old Law "On Foreigners" gave a clear picture only for the obligations of foreigners but did not foresee their rights fully, it was considered necessary to include some additional rights based on international standards on legal rights of migrant workers. The additional rights provided in the new law are: 1) The right to equal treatment with Albanian citizens regarding working conditions, including provisions for removal from work and rewards, conditions of hygiene of work, technical security, participation in vocational training, the latter provided that they have the right of residence and employment in the territory of the Republic of Albania for a period longer than one year. 2) Freedom of association and membership in a union or professional organization that represents the workers, the self-employed and employers, including benefits arising from participation in these organizations, etc.. Changes reflected in this Law, aimed at: 1. Protection of the Albanian labour market, based on two basic criteria of the European Commission Directive (CCOM/2001/386final-CNS 2001/0154, Brussels, 11 July 2001): "On the conditions of entry and stay of citizens from a third country in order to exercise economic activities, such as employee or self-employed": -through testing of the new work placement for the employee - economic benefit from the activity, for self-employed; 2. Respect of the current and expected situation of the labour market, defining clearly, the basic criteria for employment of foreigners; 3. respecting the rights of foreigners during the time they are residing and are legally employment in the Republic of Albania; 4. simplification of administrative procedures of granting and renewal of work permits in central and regional levels, increasing efficiency, transparency and raising the public awareness for these procedures 5. defining new categories of migration "intra-corporate transferees who will not be exempt from the obligation of being equipped with a work permit, but will be treated with specific mitigating criteria, without undergoing evaluation of labour market situation; 4

5 6. a clearer definition of the category "seasonal worker", referring to EU definitions for this category, about the timetable of their employment; 7. defining a new category of migration "trans-frontier employment" and sanctioning rights and their obligations; 8. introducing the new concept of validity of the work permit continuous work permit", which is issued after a one-year work permit and two successive two-year permits to work, if working conditions and employment remain the same with those of previous permits; 9. Another novelty of this law is also forecasting programs Social Integration of Foreigners in life and the Albanian society. Foreigners who are subject to this law, are treated in accordance with the fundamental rights and freedoms and international agreements ratified by the Republic of Albania, while respecting the principle of reciprocity, non-discrimination and no less favourable treatment than the Albanian citizens. The foreigner in the Republic of Albania has the obligation to keep to the reason for the issuance of work permit, for which he has immigrated. Types of work permits work permit type "A", for economic activity, as the employee; work permit type "A/P", for employees; work permit type "A/PS", for seasonal employment; work permit type "A/TN", for intra-corporate transferee; work permit type "A/S", for students; work permit type "A/NK", trans-frontier employment; work permit type "A/FP", for vocational training; work permit type "A/SHV", for persons who offer voluntary services; work permit type "A/AF" ', for members of the family, who come to the territory of the Republic of Albania, in the framework of family reunification; work permit type "B", for independent economic activity: work permit type "B/VP", for the self-employed; work permit type "B/I", for investors; work permit type "C", for special cases; work permit type "D", for foreigners who have received a continued work permit. The following persons are excluded from the obligation to obtain a work permit: Consultants or advisers at the central state institutions; Technical assistance missions, at the central institutions, by international organizations; Representatives of international organizations with diplomatic status; The foreigner who enjoys diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities, as per the international law The personnel of the trans-frontier transportation of goods and people, when they do not stay in the territory of Albania for more then three months and their headquarters are registered abroad, The foreigner who is a member of military forces or a civilian unit of a NATO member; Person who holds more than one citizenship, one of which is Albanian; Representatives of mass media, reporters or foreign correspondents, accredited in the Republic of Albania, who work for a foreign employer Persons who negotiate an agreement, in charge for pavilion in a trade fair, up to one month; Persons who install machinery or constructions delivered from a foreign company and who perform the service of repairing the machinery, as well as training Albanian or foreign employees on their use, up to one month, Heads of non-profit organizations, who are not compensated for their work; Representatives of religious and humanitarian foundations or institutions, recognized and registered with the responsible structures of the Albanian state who are not compensated for their work; 5

6 Members of crews of ships or aircrafts with temporary stay in the Republic of Albania for up to three months, Business visitors who stay less than a month in the Republic of Albania; Foreign lecturers, researchers or specialists, who come to the territory of the Republic of Albania in the framework of bilateral agreements of the Government or educational institutions themselves. b) labour market sectors experiencing shortages Economy overview Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. Macroeconomic growth averaged around 6% between 2004 and 2008, but declined to about 3% in Inflation is low and stable. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime, and recently adopted a fiscal reform package aimed at reducing the large gray economy and attracting foreign investment. The economy is bolstered by annual remittances from abroad representing about 15% of GDP, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy; this helps offset the towering trade deficit. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming because of lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Energy shortages because of a reliance on hydropower, and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment and lack of success in attracting new foreign investment needed to expand the country's export base. The completion of a new thermal power plant near Vlore has helped diversify generation capacity, and plans to upgrade transmission lines between Albania and Montenegro and Kosovo would help relieve the energy shortages. Also, with help from EU funds, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth. 3 General description on the economic situation and employment possibilities in different areas of the country Economic growth rates slowed down in 2009 as a result of external influences and materialization of some internal risks that brought about the contraction of aggregate demand. As at the end of the last quarter, preliminary estimates show that the GDP grew 3.3 percent in annual terms, slowing down from 5.4 percent in the first quarter to -0.8 percent in the last quarter. According to INSTAT s quarterly release of the GDP, post and telecommunication, trade and transportation posted the highest growth in the last quarter of 2009 versus the last quarter of They grew 8.3, 7.2 and 3.0 percent, respectively. Construction and industry posted a decline of 14.4 and 41 percent in this quarter versus the same period of the previous year. 4 Few opportunities are offered by the job market in the areas of Kucova, Lac, Kukes, Mirdite, Puke, Tropoje, and Shkodra. The reasons are: relatively limited possibilities of development; the low level of development in general and prevailing of the small businesses; the tendency of the entrepreneurs to shift their activities to big cities; social problems that emerged after the implementation of law on land distribution, etc 5. The businesses are legally obliged to declare the job vacancies at the Employment Offices, but the process is very sporadic, more than 70% of the job vacancies are identified from the visits of the Employment Office specialists, who also monitor the progress of employment encouragement programme, as regulated by the Government Decision no.632. Employment encouragement programmes provide financial facilitation for the employers who agree to employ certain numbers of jobseekers with regular contract for a specified period of time The strategy of employment and vocational training. 6

7 General information on most available jobs and salary levels The main jobs available in the market are for waiters, barmen, cleaners, fast-food workers, cooks, sales staff, construction workers, and carpenters. These are frequently advertised in newspapers. The minimum wage in Albania is, as of 2010, of 19,000 ALL per month (approx. EUR 138 or USD 190). Currently the minimum wage in Albania is comparable to the region s countries 6. The average monthly wage in the public sector is increased, from 35,650 ALL in the third quarter of 2007 to 43,400 ALL 7. c) job search websites The National Employment Services started to publish job vacancies online, through their redesigned website A database with filtering possibilities is also available online. a popular web site offering among others vacancies, as well. This is an information portal which publishes job vacancies, with filtering possibilities Gazeta Çelesi offers vacancies as well. Now also available on-line: d) quotas and bilateral agreements where they exist Bilateral agreements on employment are being negotiated with Italy and Greece by the Albanian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. A bilateral agreement on the employment, internships or study has been finalized with France on 2 March Currently the quota system with Italy is active. The Decree on the Quota is issued every year and foresees the employment in Italy of 4500 Albanian workers. The application procedure is available in internet: Applicants can also visit the web page: 4. Immigration for study purposes a) conditions of entry and stay for students Foreign students, enrolled in the public or private education institutions in the Republic of Albania, are issued a special stay permit, based on their request and the written certificate from the education institution. As concerns the payment, in the case of students the principle of reciprocity is respected. To find our more about conditions on entry and stay for foreign citizens in Albania, please visit: id=89&lang=sq b) graduate and post-graduate scholarships The web site of the Albanian Ministry of Education and Science offers updated information on scholarships available in Albania for Albanian citizens: ( for English) Ministry of Education and Science Rruga e Durrësit Nr.23, Tirana, Albania Tel: , Fax: Idem 7

8 The Albanian Government has created the Excellence Fund for students wishing to pursue with postgraduate studies. For more information, please visit: ( for English) Other scholarship opportunities with: Open Society Foundation for Albania (OFSA) The Scholarship Program ( This program offers: -undergraduate scholarships -graduate scholarships -supplementary scholarships -research and visiting scholarships for short term assignments The FULBRIGHT Program Chevening Scholarship Programme Albania c/o British Council Rr.' Perlat Rexhepi' P. 197 Tirana, Albania Tel: +355 (4) /7 Fax: +355 (4) c) list of main universities and colleges A list of main universities in Albania can be found below: A detailed list of the Private Universities in Albania and their programmes of study can be downloaded at d) foreign students programmes where applicable Principal national bodies responsible for dealing with international cooperation and exchanges in higher education: Ministry of Education and Science Rruga e Durrësit Nr.23, Tirana, Albania Tel: , Fax: Residence Foreigners residing in Tirana prefecture must submit their applications to the Regional Directorate of Border and Migration in Tirana, located at Rr. Mine Peza. Applications elsewhere should be submitted to Regional Directorates of Border and Migration in the regions of Durres, Shkoder, Kukes, Diber, Vlore, Korce dhe Gjirokaster, as per the temporary residence of the foreigner. More detailed guidance on the requirements needed to qualify for the first residence permit in Albania and for an relevant extension after one year are described as here below. Foreigners working in Albania for charities, philanthropic and humanitarian organisations may be excluded from the residence permit fee but applicants should check their parent organisation's status before assuming this. 8

9 The Decision of the Council of Ministers no. 362, dated On determining the criteria procedures and documentation for entry, stay and treatment of foreigners in the Republic of Albania states as follows: 1. Application for residence permit or its renewal is lodged with the migration sectors or offices, at Regional Directorates of Border and Migration, in the territory where the foreigner is residing at the moment of application. The foreigner with legal residence in Albania appears in person for application for residence permit. Procedures of acceptance, approval or refusal and also distribution of residence permits is defined by the instruction of Minister of Interior. 2. To obtain a residence permit, in the framework of economic, professional, commercial and employment activities, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: Available at file. c) Certificate of criminal status obtained in the country of origin and/or in the country where the concerned person has legally resided, translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. ç) Sales contract or lease agreement of the place of residence; d) Personal and/or family certificates translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. dh) 2 passport-size photographs e) Declaration by the host or employer for the reason of stay f) Copy of work permit or copy of licence to exercise the respective activity g) Health certificate (for citizens who come from countries affected by epidemic diseases) according to the specification of Ministry of Health h) Receipt of payment for residence permit 3. To obtain a residence permit for purposes of study, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file. c) Certificate of criminal status obtained in the country of origin and/or in the country where the concerned person has legally resided, translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. ç) Certificate by the head of education institution for enrolment in the academic year d) Sales contract or lease agreement of the place of residence, in Albanian language and certified, or a respective declaration if accommodation is guaranteed by education institution e) 2 passport-size photographs f) Bank deposit in a banking institution in Albania in order to cover education expenses, or certificate by the respective education institution for the granting of scholarship g) Proof of financial means required for subsistence, according to provisions of article 10 of law no.9959 of 17 th July 2008 On foreigners 9

10 h) Certificate of knowledge of language of education in Albania by the non-albanian speaking foreign citizen 4. To obtain a residence permit for family reunification of a foreigner with another foreigner who legally/regularly resides in Albania, the former need to submit the following documents: file. c) Certificate of criminal status obtained in the country of origin and/or in the country where the concerned person has legally resided, translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements ç) Copy of residence permit of spouse, or civil partner d) Personal and/or family certificates translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. e) 2 passport-size photographs f) Sales contract or lease agreement of the place of residence. The place of residence needs to have adequate space to ensure normal living for the number of persons after reunification g) Copy of the document of health insurance contributions (for foreign citizens residing in Albania) h) Request by host spouse/civil partner i) Notary declaration of the civil partners Documentation of the civil partner serves only for cases foreseen in article 21 of law no 9959 of 17 th July 2008 On foreigners. 5. To obtain a residence permit for family reunification of a foreigner entering with a visa with an Albanian citizen, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents file. c) Copy of identification document or passport of Albanian spouse d) Personal and/or family certificates translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. e) 2 passport-size photographs f) Documents proving their cohabitation for a time period of not less than one year (common lease agreement, several photographs, etc) 6. To obtain a residence permit for family reunification with an Albanian citizen, the foreigner who enters without a visa needs to deposit the following documents: fascicle. c) Copy of identification document or passport of Albanian spouse 10

11 d) Family certificate from the country of origin and the marriage certificate issued in Albania or in the country of origin, within the recent semester, translated into Albanian language, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements e) 2 passport-size photographs 7. To obtain a residence permit, in the framework of humanitarian or religious activities, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file c) Certificate of criminal status obtained in the country of origin and/or in the country where the concerned person has legally resided, translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements d) Personal and/or family certificates translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements e) 2 passport-size photographs f) Copy of the licence to exercise humanitarian activity or declaration by the host religious institution 8. To obtain a residence permit for exceptional cases 8, foreseen in article 31 of law no 9959 of 17 th July 2008 On foreigners, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: b) Travel document or identification document if available c) Request by the state institution for the issuance of the residence permit not exceeding one year, indicating the reason constituting an exceptional case d) 2 passport-size photographs The procedure of application and issuance of the residence permit for exceptional cases is approved by instruction of Minister of Interior. 9. To obtain a residence permit for other purposes, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file. c) Certificate of criminal status obtained in the country of origin and/or in the country where the concerned person has legally resided, translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified 8 The local Border and Migration Police, for humanitarian reasons, issues temporary residence permit to a foreigner, in cases when the foreigner: a) submitted to the asylum authorities a request to be recognized as a refugee; b) is a victim of trafficking and needs temporary protection; c) has collaborated or accepts to collaborate with the justice, upon proposal of the state structures or those of national security; ç) has been categorized by the competent authorities that is a stateless person; d) was born in the Republic of Albania and doesn t have anymore legal custody, as per the Albanian legislation, but hasn t obtained Albanian citizenship or the permission to stay for other purposes. 11

12 and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements. d) Certificate of ownership over the place of residence. e) Bank certificate over financial means to cover expenses according to the purpose of stay for the requested period of stay f) Personal and/or family certificates translated into Albanian language, issued in the recent semester, certified and legalised by the diplomatic or consular representations of the Republic of Albania abroad. Legalisation or not of these documents is based on obligations deriving from bilateral agreements g) 2 passport-size photographs h) Statement on the purpose of stay i) Receipt of payment for residence permit 10. To renew the residence permit, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file. c) Copy of previous temporary residence permit d) Document/s proving the reason/need to renew the residence permits similar to those specified in this decision for the issuance of temporary residence permits, apart from the certificate of criminal status from the country of origin. 11. To obtain a two-year residence permit, the foreigner should have legally resided for one year period (with temporary residence permit) in Albania and needs to deposit the following documents: file. c) Copy of previous temporary residence permit d) Document/s proving the reason/need to be provided with a two-year residence permit similar to those specified in this decision for the issuance of temporary residence permits, apart from the certificate of criminal status from the country of origin. 12. To obtain a permanent residence permit, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file. c) Copy of previous temporary residence permit/s proving residence for five consecutive years in Albania. d) Document/s proving the reason/need to be provided with the temporary residence permits similar to those specified in this decision for the issuance of temporary residence permits, apart from the certificate of criminal status from the country of origin. 13. Issuance of temporary residence permits, for special reasons, upon order of Minister of Interior, is done for important state interests, state security and public order. The request for issuance of a residence permit is addressed to Minister of Interior by the concerned institution. Documents to be submitted to the responsible state authority for treatment of foreigners at regional/local level are: 12

13 file. c) When appropriate, confirmation by the head of central institution for having employed or contracted the foreigner. 14. To obtain a permanent residence permit, for special cases, the foreigner needs to submit the following documents: file. c) Copy of temporary residence permit d) According to the circumstances indicated in point 1, article 35 of law no.9959 of 17 th July 2008 On foreigners, a copy of (permanent) residence permit of spouse/parent, family certificate of parent or grandparent, personal certificate of the child d) 2 passport-size photographs 15. To obtain a temporary residence permit for special purposes (expert to come in the framework of bilateral or multilateral agreements, lecturer, member of scientific staff, pedagogue of university, who due to their expertise work in the Republic of Albania), the foreigner needs to deposit the following documents: file. c) Confirmation by the head of central institution for having employed or contracted the foreigner 16. The set of documents, to be submitted for the issuance of residence permit, in the framework of economic, professional, commercial and employment activities, should be translated into Albanian language and certified by the local respective authorities. 17. The procedure of approval of the issuance of residence permit includes verification with the card-index of Criminal Police at the State Police, and also confirmation by the State Intelligence Service. 18. Following submission of documentation for residence permit by the foreigner, and the acceptance by the responsible state authority at regional/local level, the latter provides the foreign citizen immediately with temporary residence permit, which is valid for the period of examination of the foreigner s application for residence permit. 19. In case of loss of a travel document or a residence permit, the responsible state authority at regional/local level declares the lost document wanted, annuls the residence permit denounced to have been lost, provides the foreigner with a temporary certificate according to Annex 9 and take the measures to provide the foreigner, if requested by him, with a travel document, temporary residence permit and, consequently, residence permit. 20. Residence permit is issued in the form of biometrical card. 13

14 21 The minors until 14 years of age are provided with residence permits for minors in the form of biometrical card without fingerprints. 22. Residence permit fee for foreign citizens is indicated in Annex 10 of this decision. 23. Foreigners who work for non-profit organisations, charity, humanitarian organisations, foundations and religious associations, based on the provisions of bilateral agreement with the Albanian state for exemption from residence permit fee and also categories determined in article 31 of law no 9959 of 17 th July 2008 On foreigners, are provided with free of charge residence permit. Cost of the residence permit card for this category is covered by the budget of Department of Border and Migration. 6. Asylum Procedure Asylum Procedure Under the Law on Asylum in the Republic of Albania (Law No. 8432/1998) the Republic of Albania recognises the right to asylum (through either refugee status or temporary protection on humanitarian grounds) to all foreigners who are in need of international protection be they refugees or other persons who seek asylum in compliance with the provisions of this law and the international conventions Albania is party to. Foreigners who wish to seek asylum in the Republic of Albania shall: approach the competent authorities, at the border or within the territory of the Republic of Albania, and file an asylum request; or directly approach the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees and file an asylum application. Asylum application The asylum application is filled in writing in Albanian or in one of the United Nations languages in presence of the staff from the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees at the Ministry of Interior. The application must, apart from the identity, express in brief the asylum seeker s reasons for seeking protection on the territory of the Republic of Albania. At the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees, the asylum seeker shall provide all necessary bio-data and fill in the forms presented by this Directorate. Hearing The asylum seeker shall be interviewed in connection with his/her asylum application at the Directorate for Refugees. If the hearing is not carried out within the same day, the asylum seeker is immediately informed on the date of the hearing which shall not take place later than 21 days from the day when the asylum seeker has filed his/her asylum application with the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees. Procedures at the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees The Directorate for Refugees shall document all important data provided by the asylum seeker. After the asylum application is completed with all the necessary data and forms, the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees shall provide the asylum seeker with the document certifying his/her identity and the receipt of the asylum application as well as ensuring non-refoulement, in accordance with paragraph 4 of article 23 of this law. The Directorate for Nationality and Refugees shall take a decision within 30 days from the day of the hearing of the asylum seeker and provide the asylum seeker and UNHCR (Rr. Donika Kastrioti, Vila Nr. 4. Tel: , Fax: ; ) with a copy of the decision without delay, but in any case not later than 5 days from the date the decision has been taken. The decision of the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees shall be given in writing and shall be motivated. 14

15 Abusive and Manifestly Unfounded Claims The Directorate for Nationality and Refugees may declare an asylum application "abusive" or "manifestly unfounded", respectively when it has been established that the claim made by the asylum seeker is clearly fraudulent, in the sense that the applicant deliberately attempts to deceive the authorities; the claim made by the asylum seeker is not related in any manner to the criteria for granting of asylum as specified in Chapter I of this law. Asylum shall be further denied to any foreigner who arrives from a third country party to the 1951 Convention/1967 Protocol where he/she cannot establish a well-founded fear of persecution for at least one of the reasons contained in Article 1A of the aforementioned Convention, nor a Human Rights violation or threat of refoulement in the sense of the Articles 4 and 6 of this Law, and if he/she can lawfully return to that country where his/her application for refugee status shall be examined in accordance with international standards. Appeal The appeal against the decision of the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees shall be addressed to the National Commission for Refugees within 15 days from the date the decision is received by the asylum seeker. The asylum seeker is entitled to be heard by the Commission. The appeal shall contain: reasoning against the unfoundedness of the decision; and other complementary data and documents, which were not presented to the Directorate for Nationality and Refugees. The decision of the National Commission for Refugees can further be appealed before the court. The decision of the Tirana Court of Appeal is executable and opens the way to expulsion from the territory of Albania. Rejection and expulsion The foreigner whose asylum claim has been finally rejected can be expelled subject to provisions of the Albanian legislation regulating the status of foreigners. The Directorate for Nationality and Refugees shall inform without delay the competent authorities about any final negative decision in asylum matters Family reunification Requirements for family reunification in Albania 1. The foreigner who has been issued a residence permit and stays and works in the Republic of Albania, can submit a request for family reunification to the local Border and Migration Police, if meets the following conditions: - has entered the territory of the Republic of Albania in compliance with the provisions of the Law on Foreigners; - stays in the Republic of Albania since not less than one year; - has regular means of living - pays health insurance contributions to cover healthcare services; - guarantees appropriate premises and conditions for the family; - submits the required documentation. 2. The Residence Permit for family reunification purposes is issued for a validity period not longer than the residence permit of the applicant for family reunification. 3. In case the permit for family reunification is refused, the foreigner has the right of appeal to the Minister within 15 days from the receipt of the written notification. 8. Reintegration of returning Albanian citizens

16 The Strategy on the Reintegration of Returned Albanian citizen ( ), foresees information and referral services to be provided to Albanian returning migrants. The Sportele Migracioni (SM, Migration Counters) is the central unit of the reintegration mechanism. The SMs are operational in all 12 Regional Directorates and 24 Local Employment Offices, subordinate to the National Employment Service. The SMs serve as focal points at local level to collect detailed information on returned Albanian citizens to assess their needs, provide them information according to these needs and to address them to the institutions offering relevant services. The reintegration assistance mechanism is activated upon the arrival of returnees in Albania. The information about the SMs is made visible in each Border Crossing Point through billboards, posters, etc. Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributes the information on reintegration support for returned Albanian citizens to the Albanian embassies and consulates abroad, so that they receive this information prior to returning to Albania. Reintegration assistance at Sportele Migracioni (Migration Counters): 1. Interview returned Albanian citizens who voluntarily approach the Counters; 2. Provide information on public and private services that match their need assessment (if any); 3. Refer them to public and private (if any) services and specific projects provided by civil society, according to their needs. Information on reintegration support at the SMs is provided through info packages prepared by the relevant institutions. These materials provide information on how to start a business in Albania, where to invest in Albania, support programmes for SME in Albania, information on social support, social insurance schemes, information on access to health care system and health insurance schemes, eligibility criteria, documents and procedures, etc. Referral of returned Albanian citizens from Migration Counters to other services, on the basis of identified needs, in line with the scope of activity of the relevant institution and the active programmes/initiatives, is provided as below: 1. Referral to the National Social Service for psycho-social assistance; 2. Referral to the public vocational training centres; 3. Referral to education institutions for the education of children or equivalency of diplomas; 4. Referral to municipality administration for shelter needs; 5. Referral to relevant health care institutions to follow procedures to benefit health care services; 6. Referral to business promotion institutions (Albinvest, Chambers of Commerce, banking system) in the event migrants wish to invest in Albania; 7. Referral to the relevant structures of MAFCP in the case of returnees from rural areas who will benefit from agricultural subsidy schemes; 8. Referral to programmes of civil society for reintegration of returnees that are active in the operating area of the Migration Counter; 9. Health Care System General description of the Health Care Situation All over Albania there are 2000 polyclinics where first aid is given by the doctors and nurses. There is at least one hospital in each district and the bigger cities like Tirana, Vlora, Elbasani, Korca have more than one. The health situation in Albania is stable and there are no major epidemiological concerns. The Albanian public health care system is suffering from a lack of funds and investments but is still providing the basic services to all citizens. 16

17 The main problems concerning health care in Albania can be categorized under poor quality of health care, unequal access to health care services and disturbing trends in public health. Primary health care and hospital services are the two existing levels of the Albanian health care system. The quality of primary health care has dropped over the past decade in both urban and rural areas, comprising 580 health centres, 24 district hospitals, 13 regional hospitals and the University hospital centres in Tirana. Conditions for the coverage of medical treatment (state or private) including details on the opportunity to access public services and health insurance Public health care service is free of charge, and it is offered to all Albanian citizens. The returnees have equal access in public service, no matter how long they have been abroad and are treated the same way as someone who never left Albania. Coverage in medical treatment benefits all insured and retired persons. The insured individuals are all persons economically active like: a) all insured employees in private or state enterprises, as well as students, or b) all self-employed individuals in urban or rural areas who pay the contribution of health insurance on their own, or c) all the persons economically inactive who depend on state contribution. For the unemployed category of people, medicaments are covered by the state only if the unemployed individual is registered in the employment office, otherwise the medicaments are not covered by the state. Health insurance benefits all persons who pay the contributions. The contribution can be paid either from the enterprise where they are working or can be paid by themselves, for instance employees in the state enterprise pay 1.3 of their salary as part of health insurance contribution. Health insurance: preconditions and costs The obligatory health care covers all with permanent residence in Albania, as well as the foreigners employed and insured in Albania. The obligatory health care are a non-profitable system that cover: a part of the medical prices in the open pharmaceutical network; the expenses of the service to the physician or to the family doctor for all the citizens in Albania that have paid the contributions. The obligatory health insurance is provided by an independent state institute - the Health Care Insurance Institute (HCII) - and covers a part of the price of the principal medicines of the list approved by the Council of Ministers and the expenses of the service to the physician or to the family doctor. The amount of this coverage is determined every year by the Council of Ministers. The contributions are paid by the citizens economically active and by the state. The state health care The state finances: the preventive health measures; the examinations for diagnose purposes by the specialist, the health care at the hospital as well as other cases determines by the law; the emergency services; The emergency services for extraordinary cases, like massive accidents, epidemics and natural disasters, are organised by the municipalities and the communes with the support of the government for their financing. For such services the expenses are covered according to the criterions specified by the Council of Ministers. Supplementary voluntary health insurance The citizens may insure themselves and their families voluntarily by schemes of supplementary insurance for the high cost medications, which are not covered, by the obligatory insurance or for other additional 17

18 advantages. The citizens can participate on the supplementary voluntary health insurance in order to cover their direct payment for medicines, prices of prosthesis and optical lens, dental services and other ambulatory services that are not covered by the obligatory insurance. The voluntary insurance can also assure to the Albanian citizens the coverage of the expenses for the medication abroad. The voluntary health insurance are organised by: HCII The associations of reciprocal assistance established for this purpose; as well as: The commercial insurance companies. The voluntary insurance is not financed by the state. The responsible subject for the payment of the contribution The persons economically active, employed and self-employed in the rural area or in town, the unpaid family workers and other persons with regular income from the property, according to the specifications of the Council of Ministers, are obliged to contribute at the HCII. The state contributes for the not active persons, like: children, pupils and students of regular educational process; retired persons; invalid persons (mental and physical); unemployed persons; persons that are treated with economical and social assistance; women on maternity leave; the citizens at the military service; The Council of Ministers has the right to specify other groups of citizens that the state must contribute for. Obligations for paying contributions The contributions are paid by: the employees and their employers; other persons economically active; the state. Contribution The contributions are calculated: in percentage on the salary for: the employed persons; the foreigners employed in Albania. in fixed amount for: the self-employed persons (Albanians and foreigners in Albania) and the employers; the unpaid family workers. in fixed amount for: the part covered by the state budget. The contribution according to the point "a" is 3.4 % of the gross salary, referring to the maximal and minimal salary specified by the Council of Ministers for the health insurance contribution. The payment of this contribute is divided equally between the employer and the employee. The contribution according to the point "b" is: for the self-employed persons, employers and unpaid family workers in the town, the 7% of the minimal salary; 18

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