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Croatia - Visas
If anyone under the age of 18 enters Croatia, they must be accompanied by their legal guardian. If that is not possible, an official letter must be held in the prescribed format.
Overseas teenagers can be caught out by these rules as travel agents and airlines do not widely publicise them. This means they can arrive for holidays just to be met by armed border staff who confiscate their passports. Some will be deported the same day, whilst others are detained for a number of nights awaiting clearance to be removed. All of these will be officially recorded on deportation lists and have their passports stamped accordingly.
Most EU Citizens Have The Right To Live In Croatia - But Not All
Croatia became a member of the European Union (EU) on 1st July 2013, and therefore also a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). One of the fundamental rights of EU/EEA membership is the free movement of workers between member countries.
However, five other EU countries were worried about opening up their borders to Croatian people immediately, and therefore imposed transitional arrangements for a few years. It was agreed that until 30 June 2018, Croatian citizens could not arrive to work there without obtaining a work permit. These arrangements are reciprocal, so the citizens of these same five countries cannot arrive in Croatia to work without official permission.
These arrangements affect citizens of:
• The Netherlands
• The United Kingdom
If you are a citizen of an EU country, apart from these five, you can live and work in Croatia whenever and for as long as you wish. However, you must register your address with the local police, by law.
The UK is currently negotiating the transitional phase for its departure from the EU, a process commonly referred to as Brexit. It is unlikely that the requirement for UK citizens to obtain a work permit before moving to Croatia will be removed. This issue has caused some difficulties during the Brexit negotiations. Once the UK has completed its transition period, its own citizens will be outside the EU and subject to the same visa and work permit requirements as all other non-EU citizens.
The rules presently require exempted EU citizens to apply for a work permit once they have received a written job offer.
Some nationalities – including UK, Australian and Canadian citizens – can stay in Croatia for a maximum of 90 days in any period of 180 days, but not to work. Most other non-EU citizens must apply for a visa before arriving even for a holiday or leisure trip.
If you decide you want to live in Croatia, whether or not you want to work there, you must obtain permission to stay. This applies even if you are joining a relative who is an EEA citizen, or if you are a non-EU citizen who has permanent residency of another EU country.
If you are a highly qualified non-EU national and wish to live and work in Croatia, you should apply for the EU Blue Card from the Croatian embassy or consulate in your home country. In order to qualify for the EU Blue Card, you must meet the criteria set out in Article 54 of the Croatian Foreigners Act. A wide range of original documentation must be presented in the format, condition and timescale specified in the regulations.
If you are accepted for the EU Blue Card, you will receive a biometric residence permit which will be valid for up to two years. Further information about the application process can be found on the website for the Republic of Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
Croatia Is Not Yet A Member of the Schengen Area
On 14th June 1985, the Schengen Agreement was signed by 10 EEA member countries. They agreed to remove border controls between neighbouring signatory countries, to enhance the free movement of goods, services, labour and capital which are the four freedoms of the European Union.
Croatia is legally required to become part of the Schengen area, but is still working towards it. By September 2017, more than 60 of the previously identified 98 recommendations which were holding their membership up had been implemented. Some EU officials have expressed hope that Croatia will be ready to join the Schengen area sometime in 2019.
If you are travelling from one Schengen member’s territory to another, you are not subject to border checks. However, anyone entering or leaving the Schengen zone should have their identity documents entered into the Schengen Information System (SIS). Unfortunately a number of EU/EEA countries have SIS issues and problems.
• Ireland has not yet been connected to the SIS. They are preparing to do so, but as they are not members of the Schengen area they will not have the ability to receive or create Schengen-wide alerts for refusing entry or stay.
• Cyprus is legally obliged to join the Schengen Area but has not done so, and so has not yet been connected to the SIS. Issues about the movement of Turkish Cypriot people across to the EU side and the movement of staff on and off the non-EU sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia have prevented Schengen implementation.
• The UK uses SIS but cannot create or receive Schengen-wide alerts for refusing entry or stay because it is not a Schengen member.
• Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria have restrictions on their use of the Schengen-wide SIS alerts until they each receive Schengen membership.
Becoming A Croatian Citizen
If you wish to apply for citizenship of Croatia, you must be eligible under the terms of family origin, your birth on Croatian territory, naturalisation or by international treaties.
The state administration offices nearest to where you live will deal with applications for citizenship on the basis of family origin or location of birth.
If you are applying on the basis of naturalisation, your application will be processed by the police authority and assessed by the Ministry of the Interior. Contact your local police station in the first instance.
Claims for citizenship under international treaties are assessed by the Ministry of the Interior. The application should normally be made at the Croatian embassy or consulate in your location overseas.
You must supply all documentation in the format, condition and timescale requested by the officials and specified on the application forms.
Deportation From Croatia
If you do not hold the required documents to stay in Croatia legally, you will probably be deported. Heavy fines may also be applied.
Your passport will also be stamped to show you have been deported, and data on your removal will be held on long term records. Croatia and other countries may refuse visas in the future.
Legal Permission To Stay
Visas, residency permits and work permits are often seen as a bureaucratic inconvenience, but their purpose is to protect the security and peace of the society you are hoping to join. Once all your legal documents have been processed and you have been issued with your visa and work permit, you can start building your new life in Croatia.
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