The employment situation of Ukrainian immigrants in Hungary after the outbreak of the war
The presence of Ukrainian workers in the Hungarian labour market is nothing new, but the conflict in the neighbouring country has created a completely different situation: new arrivals are seeking refugee status, but the conditions for this – despite the already facilitated employment rules – were not always met. In early March 2022, the Hungarian government adopted several government decrees to help both the integration of those seeking refuge from the war and the employers who employ them.
The laws are based on the EU regulation that defines the legal status of refugees from Ukraine. The domestic legal structure is unique in that, on the basis of an employer’s notification, Ukrainian citizens who are not Hungarian nationals have been able to work without a permit – but for temporary protection seekers, a permit was required. This was resolved by Government Decree 86/2022 (7.III.). Under the law, Ukrainian third-country nationals living in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 (i.e. the date of the outbreak of the war), who may be beneficiaries of national protection, as well as stateless persons and family members of stateless persons, are entitled to health care and are entitled to work in the country without a permit, even in the framework of temporary work, and may even be included in the category of public employment.
The general rule at present is that Ukrainian citizens with a permanent address in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 can stay and work in Hungary without any special permit for 90 days after crossing the Hungarian border. However, the rules are simplified after the 90 days.
On employment and shortage occupations.
One of the beneficiary categories of workers is those who are employed in a so-called ‘shortage occupation’ by their employer in Hungary. These occupations are defined each year by a decree of the Minister responsible for the employment of third-country nationals in Hungary.
According to the government decree, which entered into force on 8 March, Ukrainian citizens with permanent residence in Ukraine before 24 February 2022
a.) can be employed by a Hungarian employer without a permit in the so-called shortage occupations (this means that simple labour registration is sufficient).
b.) in the case of persons who cannot be classified in such professions, the permit shall be issued without examination of certain provisions of the otherwise applicable former government decree, in a simplified procedure (e.g. no need to prove the labour needs to the employer, no need to take a position on the matter with the competent governmental authority during the permit issuance, etc.)
c.) persons granted temporary protection status may also be employed without a permit if they work in one of the so-called shortage occupations defined in the Communication of the Minister responsible for the employment of third-country nationals in Hungary, including temporary agency work
The easiest way to legally establish an employment relationship in Hungary is therefore for Ukrainian workers with temporary protection status who wish to work in shortage occupations. However, if a worker who does not have temporary protection status is employed in a such occupation, a work contract and notification to the competent office is still sufficient for legal employment.
As regards residence permits, there are several options.
- Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport can stay and move freely within the European Union for 3 months. However, they cannot travel from Hungary to other EU countries without a biometric passport. (A biometric passport is a passport that contains a chip with personal data embedded in it.) After the 3 months, Ukrainian citizens must apply to the Hungarian immigration authorities for either a permanent residence permit or refugee status.
- The European Union has decided to grant temporary protection to Ukrainian citizens and their family members who were living in Ukraine before 24 February 2022. This kind of limited protection is also known as temporary protection status.
Temporary protection status
This protection is granted to Ukrainian citizens and their family members. This protection is available even if they did not arrive in Hungary directly from Ukraine, but only if they were in Ukraine before 24 February. Temporary protection status is granted in the same way in all EU countries.
Temporary protection status is not automatic, the person concerned must apply for it. The claimant must do so in person, at any “collection point”, at any time of the day. The collection points are located in 6 rural locations, or the application can be made at any office of the Office of Immigration (OIF) during opening hours. The addresses of the offices and help desks of the Office for Immigration (OIF) can be found here: oif.gov.hu.
The Immigration Office must close the procedure within 45 days. In the meantime, the applicant must prove that he/she is a Ukrainian citizen. The easiest way to do this is by presenting an official document (e.g. identity card, passport, document proving family ties). It is important to note that an applicant can be granted protection even if he/she does not have any documents. In this case, the authorities will ask more detailed questions at the interview about where the applicant comes from in order to assess whether the applicant is entitled to protection.
What rights does a person have after applying for temporary protection status?
Once an applicant has applied for asylum status at the Office, the rights to benefits from the State are established. This includes accommodation, food, medical care and the right to education for their children. If the accommodation is provided by someone else, the applicant does not have to go to the accommodation provided by the state, but still has to notify the authorities that he or she is seeking protection as a temporary protection seeker. In this case, the applicant will receive less state support but will still be entitled to medical care.
Those who are granted temporary protection status will also receive a Hungarian identity card, but this will be different from the identity card of Hungarian citizens.
Temporary protection is valid for up to 3 years.
PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING A CONSOLIDATED PERMIT FOR RESIDENCE AND WORK FOR A THIRD-COUNTRY WORKER IN A „SHORTAGE OCCUPATION”
The following is a list of documents and things to do in cases where the employer employs the worker in Hungary in a so-called “shortage occupation”. These occupations are defined each year by the Minister of National Economy in a decree. The aim of the procedure is to obtain a consolidated permit. Consolidated permit: a residence permit that entitles a third-country national to establish an employment relationship with a specific employer and to reside in Hungary.
The following procedural rules and requirements can therefore be taken into account in the case of a shortage occupation application.
DOCUMENTS VERIFYING THE PURPOSE OF RESIDENCE
– A prior agreement concluded with a view to entering into an employment relationship, or a document verifying the employment relationship (i.e. labour contract)
DOCUMENTS IN PROOF OF MEANS OF SUBSISTENCE IN HUNGARY
– a statement from a Hungarian or foreign financial institution concerning the applicant’s bank account;
– an income certificate issued by the tax authority for the previous year;
– an income certificate issued by the employer;
– a certificate issued by the employer and/or tax authority as proof of regular income received from abroad;
– other reliable means.
DOCUMENTS PROVING THE EXISTENCE OF HUNGARIAN ACCOMMODATION
– a residential lease contract in proof of accomodation;
– a document on accommodation by courtesy;
– documentary evidence to verify the reservation of accommodation and payment;
– a statement on boarding (dormitory) services;
– a document in proof of ownership of the residential property, by means of a certified copy of title deed issued within 30 days to date;
– a real estate sales contract and a copy of the decision of the competent Budapest or county government agency granting permission for the acquisition of a real estate property;
– other documents.
ACCOMMODATION REGISTRATION FORM
The Immigration Office has a special form of agreement which has to be filled and signed by the landlord / owner and which is for the registration of the address of employee in the accomodation by the Office.
DOCUMENTS PROVING THE EXISTENCE OF COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE
Enclosed with the application for residence permit the applicant shall provide proof of having access to comprehensive health insurance services (in particular on the basis of specific other legislation on the social security system, international agreement, or under specific agreement), or that he/she has the necessary financial resources to cover the costs of such services.
DOCUMENTS EVIDENCING THE CONDITIONS OF EXIT
– a valid passport or the permits necessary for the third-country national for returning to his/her country of origin, or to the country he/she indicates;
- and a valid ticket for departure, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket, or a means of transport lawfully used by the third-country national.
– ID picture (not older than 3 month)
The employer can also file the request, but in this case the employee’s consent is required before the employer can do so. The application can be submitted online, in person or from abroad.
The administrative service fee for the procedure is HUF 24,000 if the application is submitted in Hungary.
If the procedure is electronic, documents can be submitted electronically after registration. This is then followed by a check by the immigration office and, if no missing information is found, the worker must appear in person for biometric identification at the immigration office, where a photograph and fingerprints are taken.
If the applicant has submitted all the documents, including annexes, the office will examine the application within 8 days, otherwise the maximum time limit for examining the application is 60 days.
 The list of shortage occupations based on the decree of the Minister of National Economy can be found here: https://kijev.mfa.gov.hu/asset/view/70173/harm_k%C3%B6zlem%C3%A9ny_2018_07_11.pdf