EU deportation refers to the process of removing a foreign national from an EU country for violating immigration law.  

According to the European Commission, more than 300,000 foreign nationals receive every year orders to depart from the EU due to irregular entry or stay.

In this article, we highlight the residence rights that third-country nationals (a.k.a. non-EU and EEA nationals) must hold to legally work in the EU in order to avoid EU deportation

Additionally, we outline the key points of the EU Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures for returning illegally staying third-country nationals.  


Residence Rights of Migrant Workers in the EU


As a non-EU and EEA migrant worker, you have the right to reside and work in any of the EU Member States under an official employment contract. 

Most of the time, you must also register your residence with the competent authorities after your arrival in Europe. 

Pursuant to Article 7 of the EEC Directive 2004/38, you can legally reside in an EU Member State even if you lose your job provided that: 

  • You prove that you are unable to work temporarily due to an accident or illness 
  • You register as involuntarily unemployed in order to find a new job. This allows you to maintain your status as an EU worker for a specific period of time 
  • You undergo vocational training. Please note that the vocational training must be related to your previous job if you choose not to register as involuntarily unemployed 

As a third-country national, you hold these rights because, under a work contract, you acquire the same employment rights as an EU citizen. 

Please note that these residence rights may vary slightly based on each EU country’s national transposition of the aforementioned Directive.

National transposition is the act of integrating EU directives into the domestic laws of individual EU countries. Directives do not automatically apply across all EU Member States. Instead, they must be adapted to the national legislation of each EU country. 

You can also acquire long-term resident status in the EU if you have lived legally in an EU country for at least 5 years. However, you can lose this status if you live outside the country for a specific period. Typically, this duration spans 12 consecutive months, but some EU countries can allow longer periods.

If you do not meet the requirements for legal residency in Europe, you may be at risk for EU deportation.  

Your host country can also deport you if you pose a serious risk to public safety or commit serious crimes. 


Common Rules for EU Deportation of Irregular Workers


The EU Directive for returning illegally staying third-country nationals states that foreign nationals must receive clear, transparent, and equitable treatment.

All unauthorized immigrants must have their fundamental rights respected, including access to health care and education for children. 

Additionally, they must be granted a period for voluntary departure.

All EU countries, with the exception of Ireland, have transposed the Directive into their national laws. 

This means that the EU deportation procedure may slightly vary depending on the country. However, in most cases, you will receive a formal notice including a deportation order and a specific time frame during which you must leave the country.

EU deportation often entails a ban on re-entering the country. The duration of the ban depends on the circumstances of your case. 

If you are unable to fund your return trip, your host country may provide financial support under specific conditions.

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) plays an important role in assisting Member States with return cases. Specifically, it provides support throughout the entire return process. This also includes assistance with the acquisition of travel documents and reintegration support to deportees. 

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