Legalization of undocumented workers in Greece closed October 31, 2007 and has not reopened, as the Greek government has no intention of issuing residence/work permits to illegal migrants. Non-EU citizens interested in securing a permit under normal conditions should first start with “How non-EU citizens can get a permit to move, live and work in Greece.”
When amendments to the law are officially announced or published, I will update as necessary.
*Article last updated March 4, 2012. However, please note that ‘Comments’ reflect a specific case or whatever was true at the time.
What hunger strikers “won” in March 2011
At the end of January, a group of 287 illegal/legal and formerly legal immigrants began a hunger strike in Athens and Thessaloniki that lasted 44 days, during which nearly 200 were hospitalized. The Greek government stated from the beginning it would adhere to EU/Greek laws, not exacerbate the economic crisis and not consent to a mass legalization, nor grant residence/work permits that would only encourage similar protests.
To end the hunger strike and prevent possible loss of human life, Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis, Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis and Health Minister Andreas Loverdos agreed on March 9, 2011 to:
a) Lower the IKA ensima requirement to 120 from 200 for all immigrants with salaried work in Greece, in order to facilitate renewal of a one-year residence/work permit;
b) Lower the IKA ensima requirement to 240 from 400 for all immigrants with salaried work in Greece, in order to allow renewal of a two-year residence/work permit;
c) Lower the ensima requirement to 120-240 from 200-400, dependent on length of permit validity, for all immigrants with several employers in Greece (i.e., housekeepers, child care workers), in order to renew their permit.
d) Change law 3907 that says an illegal immigrant may apply for a residence/work permit with special consideration, if proof is provided that he/she has been living in Greece for 12 years, gradually lowering the requirement to eight (8) years over an unspecified period. Though an amendment was drafted by Parliament in August 2011, no time frame for passage of this amendment has been set, announced or published to date.
e) Through a customized process by police, grant the 287 hunger strikers a bebaiosi (certificate) of temporary stay for six (6) months, which may be renewed every (6) months. With this bebaiosi, they may continue working in Greece and visit their home countries on humanitarian grounds and return without fear of barred re-entry or penalty. All items in (e) only apply to the 287 hunger strikers, not all undocumented or formerly legal residents in Greece or asylum seekers or refugees.
No residence/work permits were issued or approved. No mass legalization was announced.
Rumors and racist comments began circulating when BBC published an article that had not been vetted before publication, stating that temporary residence permits were part of the compromise reached. This is not true.
– For Informational Purposes Only: The following article was left in place to show what basic requirements were required in a past legalization. It does not guarantee a permit in the end. –
An illegal non-EU citizen who has been in Greece since before December 31, 2004 has a right to become legal and secure a residence/work permit if the following documents can be provided to the local municipality.
What you need
1. Passport or other valid travel document (Latin letters have been acceptable in recent years, and translations into Greek for passports without Latin letters)
- Original and three (3) photocopies of the passport page and entry stamp to Greece
- One (1) photocopy of each passport page
2. Proof that you were in Greece before December 31, 2004
a. Copy of rental agreements with your landlord certified by the DOY-Eforia (tax office)
b. Letters from your past/present employers, each submitted on letterhead with an original signature of the boss and certified by the police station
c. A series of monthly bus/metro renewals over the years
d. Proof that your child was enrolled in school
3. Photocopies of your income tax returns for the past 2 years.
- Your annual income must be at least 8,500 euros, plus 15 percent (or 1,275 euros) for each dependent family member (spouse and/or child). i.e. If you are married with 1 child, your income must a minimum of 11,050 euros.
4. A signed and certified dilosi and printout issued by the tax office (DOY eforia) stating that you do not owe any unpaid taxes
5. Proof that you are currently enrolled with IKA, TEBE or another insurance carrier.
- Printout/statement from your insurance carrier
6. Proof of at least 150 ensima per year for the past 3 years.
- Originals for verification and photocopies of ensima or a dilosi signed and certified by your carrier.
- Immigrants are permitted to purchase all 150 ensima for 1000 euros, but this money is non-refundable if for any reason the permit is never issued.
*Note that the normal number is 200 ensima per year.
7. A document issued by your social insurance fund (IKA or TEBE) stating that you do not have any unpaid insurance contributions
8. A photocopy of your rental contract (certified by the tax office/eforia) or the title deed of your home
9. Health certificate
- Issued after a blood test and chest X-ray are completed at a state/public hospital
- Original and one (1) photocopy
10. Four (4) recent color passport-size photographs
11. Parabolo of the 150 euro fee
- Paid at the eforia or Dimarxeio-Mayor’s office of your municipality (location of payment varies according to municipality)
- Original and three (3) photocopies
12. Fakelo (folder with bands at the corners)
- Purchased at any office or school supply shop; they’ll know what you mean
13. Letter/contract from your employer that you have work
14. Dilosi (statement of facts) signed at the municipality that you give permission for the Ministry of Citizen Protection and Public Order
Justice to furnish your Type A criminal record
Be aware that you may need an appointment or be required to go early and wait on a first come, first serve basis on certain days of the week when you are ready to submit your papers. A public official will check, verify and bundle your documents in the fakelo, then issue a bebaiosi (blue paper with photo) that you keep to later pick up your permit in 90 days or more.
What happens next?
If something is found to be incomplete, it is your responsibility to check with the municipality by inquiring in person (or phone, if you find a rare generous soul); there is no guarantee that anyone will notify you by phone or mail.
It takes between 90 days and one (1) year to be issued a permit.
You must start the process of renewing your permit at least 60 days in advance of the expiration date or a fine will be assessed.
– Documents from the municipality and personal notes
– First-hand experiences of KB, IK, JR
“Έληξε η απεργία πείνας των μεταναστών” — Eleftherotypia
“Χαρτοπόλεμος ΠΑΣΟΚ – Ν.Δ. για τους μετανάστες” — Eleftherotypia
“Βρέθηκε λύση για τους μετανάστες απεργούς πείνας” — Kathimerini
“Hunger strike ends in Greece after reaching compromise” — Kathimerini
“Αυλαία στην Υπατία µετά 44 ηµέρες απεργίας πείνας” — Ta Nea
“Migrants end Greek hunger strike after government offer” — BBC
“Συμφωνία κυβέρνησης- μεταναστών” — Imerisia
“Minister defends deal to end migrants’ hunger strike” — Kathimerini