On 30 March 2021, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted an amendment to the Foreigners Act (ZTuj-2F), which entered into force on the fifteenth day after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic, i.e., on 27 April 2021, and will be applied on the thirtieth day after its entry into force, i.e., on 26 May 2021. The amendment introduces a new institute of a complex crisis in the field of migration, and at the same time brings some novelties, especially in the direction of tightening the conditions for the stay of foreigners in the Republic of Slovenia. The main solutions thus refer to the knowledge of Slovene language, family reunification, sufficient means of subsistence and Brexit.
The amendment tackles the emergence of a complex crisis in the field of migration, especially in circumstances where a very large number of illegal migrants would enter a certain or more areas of the Republic of Slovenia, who would at the same time express their intention to apply for international protection. Such circumstances could lead to a situation where public authorities would not be able to fully implement all their obligations, and thus such situation could also affect the functioning of other systems and subsystems. Therefore, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia will be able to declare (with at least 46 votes) a complex crisis, which will temporarily suspend the implementation of the International Protection Act and thus restrict access to asylum.
The amendment introduces, among others, a requirement for knowledge of the Slovenian language at entry level (A1 under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) for the extension of a temporary residence permit for a third-country national due to family reunification, and at basic level (A2 under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) to issue a permanent residence permit to a third-country national. The scope of co-financing the participation in the Slovene language learning programs and acquaintance with Slovene history, culture and the constitutional system has also been redefined – in the amount of 50 percent of the program price -, while also limiting the categories of foreigners who will be eligible for co-financing. However, the provisions relating to the condition of knowledge of the Slovene language will not apply until two years after the amendment has entered into force.
In addition, the conditions for family reunification are being tightened as well. According to the new rules, foreigners (third-country nationals) will be able to exercise this right only after two years (and no longer after one year) of legal residence on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia have elapsed. Furthermore, in the field of demonstrating sufficient means of subsistence, reimbursements of work-related expenses, which include expenses for meals during work, transport to and from work, and reimbursement of travel expenses, are excluded from the pool of assets taken into account in the calculation.
The amendment also ensures the implementation of the provisions of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in the part governing residence rights and residence permits of citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members who legally resided in the Republic of Slovenia on 31 December 2020 and continue to reside in the Republic of Slovenia after that date, and on the issuance of a certificate on the rights of a border worker.
Most of the solutions from the amendment was met with sharp criticism from non-governmental organisations. In particular, the introduction of a complex crisis is, in their opinion, contrary to the International Convention on the Rights of Refugees, which guarantees the right to apply for international protection, and violates the principle of non-refoulement, so they have already announced (another) trial before the Constitutional Court.