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October 5, 2022

Romania – the second rising economy in the EU: How can a non-EU citizen get employed in the most attractive foreign investment destination in the region

Despite the rather turbulent times we are crossing due to the rising inflation, the geopolitical context and the pandemic aftershocks, the flash estimates published by EUROSTAT earlier in mid-August revealed that Romania’s 2.1% economic increase registered in Q2/2022 is the second biggest one in the EU.

More so, in Q1/2022, Romania was the second growing economy in the EU with a 5.1% GDP growth rate. Despite this, the employment growth rate in Q1/2022 was below the 0.6% on the EU level. Some Romanian experts predict a historic rate of hirings in 2022, surpassing both last year’s numbers and those of the pre-pandemic period, with most employees being hired into sales, tourism, production and construction.

“In order to counterbalance a significant labour shortage currently estimated to over one million people, the Romanian Government has approved a 100.000 annual quota of foreign (non-EU) workers that can apply for being admitted to the Romanian labour market in 2022, after exceptionally doubling it once last year from 25.000 to 50.000. The need for manpower is indisputable. And so is the wave of growth and opportunity, that has the potential to change many lives for the better as long as the employment process doesn’t turn into a legal quagmire,” said Amira Nasri, consultant, Soter & Partners.

In order for a non-EU national to be employed in Romania, several steps need to be taken into consideration by both the foreign candidate and its future employer.


The three main steps to get employed in Romania as a non-EU national


Regardless of the qualification level, an expat’s journey to be employed in Romania can be summarized in the three following steps:

  1. Obtaining the work authorisation

The presence of the foreign candidate in Romania is not required at this stage. The Romanian employer will submit the request to the immigration authorities. The work authorisation can vary based on the candidate’s level of studies and the financial offer proposed by the Romanian company.

  1. Obtaining the work visa

Once the work authorisation is issued, the candidate can apply for the work visa at the Romanian consulate in his/her country. The set of documents required for the visa application can vary depending on the country of application. As an exception, holders of US, Canadian, Japanese nationalities are allowed to enter Romania without a visa for a certain period and apply directly for residency after this second step.

  • Applying for the residence permit

The final step is to acquire the residency permit for work purposes, which is granted upon arriving to Romania, based on the work visa and as soon as the employment agreement is signed. The residency permit is valid for one or two years, based on the work authorisation previously obtained. Further extensions can be granted, provided that the employees keep their employment relationship with the Romanian company.


Riding Romania’s wave of still untapped economic potential


Just a few weeks ago, the National Bank of Romania announced that foreign direct investment in Romania increased by 34% in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same four months of last year to EUR 1.15 billion. The increase was further confirmed by the NBR communicating the rise in the level of FDI in H1/2022 by 21.47% EUR to 4.379 billion compared to the same timeframe of last year. These numbers reflect the findings of the latest bi-annual Foreign Investors Council on business sentiment index, according which 40% of the respondents stated they were planning to invest more than the previous year and 50% of them said they would maintain the same level of investments as last year. Consequently, 75% expect their revenues to grow in 2023.

According to the interviewed companies, Romania is becoming increasingly more attractive in terms of projects compared to peer locations (e.g. CEE, Europe or other international locations), nearing a peak of 50% in the last half a decade. In order to achieve this, 53% of the companies interviewed said they were planning to hire more people in the next 12 months. At the same time, only 45% of the currently available workforce is considered competitive. According to the latest data by the Romanian National Institute of Statistics, despite the job vacancy rate in Q2/2022 slightly dropping by 0.04% (to 0,91%) compared to the previous quarter, it has increased by 0,11% compared to Q2/2021, while still remaining below the pre-pandemic rates.

The current significant labour shortage, correlated with the gap between the GDP rate and that of employment further emphasizes Romania’s potential as a labour market. If considering hiring foreign nationals for your future projects, it is advised to contact in advance a Romanian immigration consultant who can smooth out and help navigate a bureaucratic process that, despite the national immigration authorities’ continuous best efforts, is otherwise often a hassle both for employing companies and their candidates.


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