Which one should I choose? An employment permit or an intra-corporate transfer? A brief summary

From 1st January, 2024, there have been many amendments in connection with business immigration, so the structure of the type of permits and the conditions have been also changed. The major points of the work and residence permit and the intra-corporate transfer have not changed, so beside of these we are going to explore the details of the Hungarian Card and the guest worker residence permit.

After the re-regulation, a third-country national may reside permanently in Hungary on the basis of the following legal titles:

– for business or investment purposes
  • as a guest self-employed,
  • as a guest investor,
– for employment purposes as a guest worker
  • with a residence permit for seasonal employment,
  • a residence permit issued for the purpose of carrying out a project,
  • a residence permit for employment purposes,
  • guest worker residence permit,
– as a highly qualified person for the purpose of employment or as a person with skills in a field of high importance for the country
  • with a Hungarian Card,
  • EU Blue Card,
  • as an intra-corporate transferee,
  • as a researcher,
  • for the purpose of relocating a company to Hungary, with a Business Card,
– for employment linked to citizenship or for other purposes under this Act, with a National Card,
– for other reasons specified in this Act, i.e.
  • for study purposes,
  • for training purposes,
  • as a trainee,
  • for official purposes,
  • on the basis of an international agreement for the employment of tourists temporarily employed,
  • with a White Card,
  • for the purpose of mission,
  • for medical treatment,
  • for the purpose of carrying out voluntary activities,
  • in the national interest,
  • for the purpose of family reunification, or
  • on humanitarian grounds.
Residence permit for the purpose of employment (Hungarian Card, guest worker)

The law makes a distinction between the immigration rules for low-skilled “guest workers” (who do not own a degree) and high-skilled people (with a degree).  The situation of third-country nationals with a degree who wish to work in a highly skilled job with a Hungarian work contract will remain essentially unchanged by the new rules, the name of the permit has been changed only, which is from now is Hungarian Card. Guest workers are allowed to work in Hungary under stricter conditions and can only come if there are no Hungarian workers available to fill the job.

Low-skilled persons

The new permits available to guest workers have in common that

  • entitle the holder to stay for up to three years at a time (2+1),
  • family members cannot join them,
  • are not entitled to apply for a permit under any other title in Hungary and
  • is not entitled to apply for a National Residence Card (formerly: permanent residence permit),

The employer must arrange for the guest worker’s departure within six days of the expiry of the permit (if not, penalty is HUF 5 million).

In addition, the government may also introduce a quota on the number of licenses that can be issued, the nationality of the applicants and the position they wish to hold. In 2024, the government will cap the maximum number of guest worker residence permits and residence permits for employment purposes at 65,000 (only 39,000 permits were issued in 2023) and has defined the 300 occupations in which third-country nationals cannot be employed with a guest worker residence permit.

Highly qualified people

For highly qualified third-country nationals, the proposal introduces the Hungarian Card in addition to the permits based on EU regulations (e.g. EU Blue Card, ICT permit). Foreign workers with higher professional qualifications are entitled to this type of permit, which is valid for a maximum period of three years, with the possibility of an occasional extension of three years. Family members can join them (family reunification).

The employee should be careful if the job to be filled by a work contract does not require higher education and/or the third-country national does not have such qualifications. In the former case, the graduate will also have the status of a guest worker, so the employer will also have to require a higher education qualification. In the absence of a higher education qualification (or a job requirement for such a qualification), well-paid employees of such companies with a high level of experience may have to forego moving to Hungary with their families if they decide to accept the job offer.

Required documents are the follows (in general):
  1. Documents verifying the purpose of residence

In the case of a guest worker notification of labour needs for a job to be filled by a third-country national. It must be submitted to the district office in whose area of jurisdiction the proposed employment will take place. The content of the notification of labour needs form and the application for a work permit must be identical (e.g. job title, basic salary, place of work, etc.). If the Client has a degree it means that he/she can obtain a Hungarian Card, so the employer does not have to submit the notification.

If the foreign national plans to perform work for or under the direction and/or supervision of others, for remuneration, under employment relationship, the purpose of residence may, in particular, be verified by:

A prior agreement concluded with a view to entering into an employment relationship, or a document verifying the employment relationship, as well as a certificate of education and qualifications.

  1. Documents in proof of means of subsistence in Hungary
  2. Documents proving the existence of Hungarian accommodation
  3. Documents proving the existence of comprehensive health insurance
Validity period

A residence permit for employment purposes (in the case of quest worker) entitles the holder to stay in Hungary for a fixed term of up to two years.

The validity period of the Hungarian Card is up to three years, which may be extended by up to three years on occasion if the third-country national fulfils the social coexistence conditions laid down by law.

Residence permit for the purpose of intra-corporate transfer and permit for long-term mobility

An intra-corporate transfer permit is a residence permit which entitles the holder to reside and work in the territory of the first Member State and, where applicable, the second Member State, under the conditions laid down by law.

A residence permit for the purpose of intra-corporate transfer may be issued to a third-country national (we highlighted a few examples):

  • who provides evidence that the host entity and the company established in a third country belong to the same company or group of companies,
  • who provides evidence of employment within the same company or group of companies, at least three uninterrupted months immediately preceding the date of the intra-corporate transfer in the case of executive employees and specialists provided for in other legislation, and at least three uninterrupted months in the case of trainee employees,
  • who has the professional qualifications and experience needed in the host entity to which he or she is to be transferred as executive employee or specialist or, in the case of a trainee employee, the university degree required,
  • who has full healthcare insurance or applied for coverage for healthcare services with respect to all periods when the employment relationship carries no insurance,
  • who has sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of Hungary during their period of residence.

Branch of foreign companies | Non-resident companies are able to set up branch office in Hungary for business activities. The Hungarian branch of foreign companies has to be managed by a Hungarian resident director.

Required documents are the follows:

  1. Documents verifying the purpose of residence
  2. Documents in proof of means of subsistence in Hungary
  3. Documents proving the existence of Hungarian accommodation
  4. Documents proving the existence of comprehensive health insurance
Validity period

The period of validity of a residence permit issued for the purpose of an intra-corporate transfer is at least one year or the duration of the transfer. The period of validity of an intra-corporate transfer residence permit shall be up to three years for managers and experts and up to one year for trainees.