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Work visas for Greece

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Finding a job in Greece as a foreigner, given the current 22.5% unemployment rate, can seem counter-intuitive at first. But as the startup sector is growing, there is an increasing demand for specialised talent -- and even if you’re not a tech professional, the tourism industry always needs a couple of extra hands when in high season. But be forewarned: it can be exponentially harder to find work and get a visa for Greece if you are not an EU-EEA citizen.

For citizens of EU-EEA

If you’re coming from an EU-EEA member state, then things are rather simple: you can basically reside and work in Greece without any restriction -- all you need is your passport or ID card. Although there is a good chance that no one will ever ask you for it (Greeks are really lax with EU citizens and it’s quite possible that some authorities or officials are not even aware you need it), once you have spent a full three months (90 days) in Greece you should procure a Certificate of Registration from the Department of Aliens bureau. Just visit your local police station and ask whether they have a foreigner’s department (Tmima Allodapon): not all of them do, but they can point you towards the direction of the closest police station that has one. This Certificate is free of charge and does not expire. To get it, you’ll need the following:

  • An application form (you’ll get that from the police station).
  • A copy of your passport or ID.
  • 4 standard passport photos.
  • Some proof that you have medical insurance: an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), IKA (the Greek Social Insurance Institute), OAEE (the Insurance Institute for freelancers) or a private health insurance.
  • A certificate from your employer (if you have one), or proof that you have sufficient financial resources.
  • If you’re retired, a letter from your pension provider that states the annual income (translated in Greek).
  • Some proof that you have a local residence (a rental agreement, documents of property ownership documents or a statement from the person whose signing the property deed).

You can find the full list (in Greek) here. After five years of living in Greece, you can get a Permanent Residence Certificate, which doesn’t expire either.

If you’re an EU citizen and want to come to Greece to study, teach, apprentice or volunteer, be sure to check the Erasmus programme first, as it offers many opportunities.

For non EU-EEA citizens

If you’re not coming from an EU-EEA country, things can be complicated. Once you have obtained your visa to travel to Greece and have successfully entered the country, you will need to apply for a residence/work permit. There are various types of permits, so read below to find what applies to your case.

A National Work visa

This is an Entry type of visa, which means you’ll have to have it issued before your arrival to the country, if you intend to stay in Greece for more than 90 days. To get it, you’ll need to have a job offer from a Greek company or from a company in your home country with a Greek branch (that you’re being transferred to). You’ll need to contact your local Greek embassy or consulate for details, but the papers generally required for a National Work visa are a valid passport, your contract (or offer) of employment, some proof of medical insurance and a criminal background check.

Just be aware that this can turn out to be quite the process, and could take up to a year. You should enter the country on a tourist visa, find an employer to sponsor your work visa and permit and then, once you and your potential employer have met, interviewed and decided you are a good fit, you need to return home -- because in order to be issued a work permit, you need a work visa, not a tourist one. In order to be issued a work visa, you must return home and wait for the potential employer to complete the paperwork, submit it to the Office of Manpower and the Ministry of Interior Affairs, prove that there is not a single Greek or other EU citizen who can do this job, justify why you should be hired instead, and then put up a deposit of several months salary (or have you do it). Once the process is completed, the official work invitation letter and contract needs to be sent from Greece to th e Greek embassy/consulate in your home country, which will invite you to interview with them before approving the visa.

Finding a sponsor for your visa

As stated above, this option involves several steps, government approval, a significant monetary deposit (by your employer or yourself) and a period of waiting back home until your papers come through. Suffice to say that is really hard to get an employer to do all that, as for them it would be much simpler to hire candidates already in Greece. But if you have a relative, a friend or perhaps a potential spouse willing to hire you, be aware that a 2008 law requires all private businesses to show an annual profit of 24,000 euros before hiring any non-EU citizens (for companies this amount rises up to 60,000 euros per year).

Get your own working permit

If you don’t have a sponsor, then within 30 days of your arrival in the country you must apply in person for a residence/work permit at the local Dimarchio (Municipal Office). It’s very important that you do this early on, because the process is lengthy and if your visa expires before your application papers go through, you’ll be required to leave the country and start the process from the beginning. There are at least 19 types of residence permits available, depending on your circumstances (i.e. whether you’re self-employed, an employee, an executive, an Olympian athlete etc) but all of them range from 1 to 5 years. To obtain your permit, you need to present, in Greek, the following documents:

  • Your Visa.
  • Your passport (plus photocopies) and two passport photos.
  • A certificate of medical insurance.
  • A health certificate from a state hospital (stating that you don’t have any communicable diseases).
  • Some proof that you have a local address (the title deed or the rental contract).
  • Some proof that you can support yourself, be it job or monetary resources (according to a law passed in 2007, non-EU travellers are required to have 50 euros a day).
  • A tax number (AFM) from the local tax office and proof that you paid the required fee.
  • Α social security number (AMKA) from the nearest Social Security Institute (IKA) office or the Citizens Service Office (KEP).

If you’re a nurse, a construction/domestic worker, or if you work in agriculture and are insured by social security, but have more than one employer, then you do not have to submit a work contract when applying for (or renewing) your permit.

If you’re an entrepreneur/looking to start your own company

Looking to start your own company with your own employees? You need a minimum capital of 300,000 euros, a business plan (in Greek, approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs) that includes at least 10 employees, of which 3 must be Greek citizens -- a rule you still need to follow even if you have a business partner who is already a Greek/EU citizen. To become self-employed, you must have already had a residence permit in Greece for one year before you apply -- and then you need to submit a formal plan (in Greek, approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs) that proves your business will contribute to the Greek economy plus a 60,000 euro deposit in a bank account to prove solvency.

If you can get a working holiday/seasonal work visa

Check with your local Greek embassy/consulate: many of them work together with the Employment Agency and can set you up with seasonal (or even regular) work in teaching, IT, or in various unskilled labour positions. Be aware that all these jobs will be listed in Greek, and that wages are usually low, but on the positive side all of them are pre-approved, so once you accept them you don’t have to worry about waiting for up to a year until your papers come through.

If you’re a student

If you’ve been accepted to a semester abroad or a full degree programme at a Greek university, you can apply for a visa. Should you be here for more than a semester, you can apply for a permit that allows you to do some part-time work while you study, to support yourself financially. When you’ve finished with your studies however, this part-time work permit cannot be converted to the regular one, even if you find an employer to hire you full time. You would still need to go through all the steps, as described above.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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