New EU rules for third-country researchers and students: Council adopts position at first reading

Council of the EU
  • 10/03/2016
  • 13:30
  • Press release
  • 119/16
  • Home Affairs

On 10 March 2016, the Council adopted its position at first reading on a draft directive aimed at making the European Union more attractive for students and researchers from third countries. The draft directive's objective is to advance the European Union in the global competition for talent and to promote Europe as a world centre of excellence for studies and training. Highly skilled people form the EU's key asset in strengthening its competitiveness, boosting growth and creating jobs.

"Talented students and researchers are indispensable for the European knowledge economy. The directive helps us to attract talented people from countries outside the European Union." said Klaas Dijkhoff, Minister for Migration of the Netherlands.

Harmonised conditions of entry and residence

The draft directive provides harmonised conditions of entry and residence in the EU of researchers, students, trainees and volunteers taking part in the European Voluntary Service from third countries. It also seeks to improve the situation of researchers and students by the following means:

  • The mobility within the EU of third-country researchers or students is improved: third-country nationals working as researchers or pursuing studies in one member state may, in certain cases, enter and carry out part of their research or studies in another member state upon simple notification. Furthermore, the period of mobility for researchers has been increased to six months making the European Union a more attractive destination for third-country nationals.
  • Family members of researchers will be allowed to accompany them and also benefit from the improved right of mobility within the EU.
  • Students from third countries will have the right to work at least 15 hours per week outside their study time in order to allow them to cover part of the cost of their studies.
  • Researchers and students from third countries may stay for at least nine months after having completed their research or studies to look for a job or set up a business.
  • Member states may decide to apply the new EU rules also to third-country nationals applying for participating in a pupil exchange scheme or educational project, volunteers other than those taking part in the European Voluntary Service or au pairing.

Next steps

The European Parliament is expected to vote in second reading at the May plenary session, thus approving the Council's position at first reading without amendments and ending the legislative process.

Afterwards, the legal texts will be published in the Official Journal of the EU. The directive then enters into force the day after its publication. Member states will then have two years to translate the directive into national law.