Recruitment of third-country nationals for seasonal work in the Greek tourism industry (especially from Philippines)

According to the Article 13 of Law 4251/2014, an employer may recruit a third-country national for seasonal work. In this article we will deal with the recruitment of third country nationals by employers operating in the tourism sector (especially by hotels). Jobs in the tourism sector were added by Decree No 35400/2023 (B2189), while the concept of tourism activity includes tourist accommodation, catering services, sea tourism services, travel agency activities and airport baggage handling services.

It is important to understand that in the case of recruitment for seasonal work, the employer requests the recruitment of the worker for a period of employment of up to 9 months per 12-month period and may extend to a total period of up to 5 years. In other words, the worker will be obliged to leave the country for a period of at least 3 months per year.  In the event that the employee breaches the above obligation then he/she cannot enter the country for any of the reasons provided for in Law 4251/2014 and for a period of up to 5 years from the date on which he/she was obliged to leave the country.

 

Recruitment procedure:

An employer who wishes to hire a third-country national for seasonal work applies to the relevant immigration office, the place where the work is provided, which is accompanied by a few documents.

The most important of the documents is the employment contract, which should include the full details of the employer and employee, the starting date of the employment relationship, the employee’s specialty, the place of work, the working hours in the week or month and the remuneration (the remuneration cannot be less than the remuneration of an unskilled worker) and the total duration of the contract, which may extend up to 5 years. It is no longer necessary to present a birth or family status certificate of the employee when submitting the employer’s application, but the employee must bring it with him/her when entering Greece because it will be requested by the tax and insurance authorities (EFKA).

If the application is accepted and the relevant approval decision is issued by the immigration office, the latter is sent together with the other documents to the competent Greek consulate for the granting of the visa for seasonal work.

After the Greek consular authorities have received the file containing the decision approving the recruitment, the worker is asked to submit certain documents required for the granting of the visa (such as an application form, photographs, criminal record, health certificate, travel insurance, air ticket reservation, etc.). At this stage, two points require special attention: a) the employment contract must be translated into English and b) the start date of the travel insurance must be the same as the date of pre-booking of the air ticket.

The following procedure applies only to the Philippines and concerns the point in time before the foreigner’s arrival in Greece: Issuing of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for skilled workers.

After the consular authorities grant the visa, a process which is not particularly difficult, it is more bureaucratic, however, as the responsibility of issuing the OEC lies solely with the Philippine government, some delays and difficulties may arise. Initially, the employer’s lawyer must contact an agency in the Philippines that will issue the certificate. The employer’s lawyer must then contact the Migrant Workers Office – MWO (formerly POLO), which will instruct the employer to complete and sign a series of documents to be validated by the MWO and then sent by private courier to the agency in the Philippines.  Once the agency receives the envelope containing the certified documents from the MWO, it initiates the process of issuing the OEC, a process that takes about a month. Once the POEA has issued the certificate to the worker, the latter can now travel to Greece. (ATTENTION! Without the OEC, the worker is not allowed to leave the country). Note that the documentation required by the MWO for seasonal workers differs from what is  required for domestic workers. Nevertheless, the procedure is the same.

ARRIVAL IN GREECE AND SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION FOR RESIDENCE PERMIT UNDER ARTICLE 18A OF LAW 4251/2014

A worker who will be employed for more than one period of employment with a maximum duration of 9 months per 12-month period may apply for a residence permit for seasonal work. A residence permit for seasonal employment for the purpose of seasonal employment has a validity period of one (1) to five (5) years, depending on the employment contract presented by the third country citizen, and entitles the third country citizen to seasonal employment and residence in Greece for a period of up to nine (9) months per twelve (12) month period. The determination of the maximum period of validity of the residence permit shall include the period between the entry of the seasonal worker into the Greek territory, under the national visa, and the submission of the application for the residence permit under this Article.

The documents required are like those required for all work permits (fee, work contract, suitable accommodation, etc.) with the only difference being that the worker must be insured with the relevant insurance institution at the time of filing the application (unlike permanent residence work permits where the insurance capacity can be provided later).

A third-country national holding a residence permit herein may change employer under a new employment contract by informing the competent Aliens and Immigration Department by submitting the relevant new employment contract. The residence permit for seasonal employment shall be revoked if the conditions for granting it are not or no longer met. If a third-country citizen violates the obligations arising from the residence permit herein, he/she may not obtain a new national visa of any category for a period of five (5) years from the date of the decision to revoke the residence permit.

The residence permit for seasonal work may be renewed once for a period of up to five (5) years, provided that all the conditions mentioned above are met and the third-country national has complied with all the obligations.

***This residence permit does not give access to the right to family reunification and the time spent does not count towards access to long-term resident status. In addition, the spent legal residence time and legal employment time shall not be counted for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements for applying for Greek citizenship, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Greek Citizenship.***

 

 

Alexandros THEODOROU
Immigration Lawyer
Theodorou Law Office & Associates
All reproduction prohibited

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