The Albanian Parliament has voted in favor of a law that will facilitate easier residence application processes for immigrants, as well as catering to different kinds of residents.
The amendments on the Law on Foreigners seek to bring Albanian law in line with the European Union acquis while also hoping to attract more foreign investment. It will allow for expansion on the categories of foreigners that will be granted residence permits, in particular pensioners, digital nomads, stateless persons, and those wishing to buy property in the country.
It also envisages making the process easier through the issuance of online visas and a single application for residence permits.
Currently, those wishing to live in Albania must apply for two separate permits, one through the Border and Immigration Police and another at the local Municipality. Under the new rules, they will make one, single application, thus ensuring a quicker and lower-cost process.
Additionally, students and researchers will be able to apply for a special permit that allows them to stay in the country for at least nine months after their research or studies, giving them time to look for a job.
Pensioners will be allowed to apply for a one-year permit initially. They have to prove their annual pension is at least 1.2 million lek (EUR 9800). They must also be able to prove they have enough financial resources to support themselves and their family members, but no actual figure was given. They must also provide evidence of an Albanian bank account where the pension will be transferred. Other requirements are health insurance, proof of accommodation in Albania (a notarized lease or a proof of ownership), and criminal record checks from their native country.
It’s likely that after the initial year, they can apply for a two-year permit, another two-year permit, five years, and then permanent residency.
In terms of digital nomads, again, they can apply for a one-year permit initially, proceeding to two years, five years, and permanent residency.
They must provide a work contract with a foreign company, a service contract with a foreign contractor, or a contract with a client they will be working with for a specific job that can be performed remotely.
They are also required to provide proof of financial means to support themselves and any family members (no exact figure given), proof of an Albanian bank account where funds will be transferred, proof of accommodation in Albania (same as with pensioners), health insurance, and a clean criminal record check.
Other documents required include a passport and sometimes a birth certificate. All documents are required to be certified or apostiled in the country of origin.
While this is good news for those looking 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. Secondly, digital nomads working on a freelance basis may not have contracts in place to present to the authorities. Lastly, some countries may have restrictions and issues with transferring pensions to Albania. Others say it’s a good start that will make the application and residency process much easier for them.