If you are a US citizen planning to work, study, research, evangelize etc. in Hungary for more than three months, this article is for you.

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Thanks to the once closer, but still strong US-Hungary relations and the mutual Visa Waiver Program, Americans are able to freely travel to Hungary without the obligation to apply for a visa and do not need a residence permit to stay here for up to 90 days. However, the situation is different when one wishes to reside for a longer period of time or engage in activities requiring a residence permit such as studying or working in our country.

Application at a Consulate

In this case, whatever the reason for your stay is (e.g. you found the love of your life, got a job or inherited a flat in the center of Budapest), you must apply for a residence permit at the local authority,  also called as the regional directorate of „The National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing”. (Let’s rather call it Office of Immigration.). As weird as it sounds, we would recommend you to think ahead, save time, avoid the collateral annoyance and contact one of Hungary’s 7 consulates nearest to you in the US already (New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Houston).

Why is it useful? Because consulate officers of Hungary are not only authorised to accept applications (from you, „Aliens”), but you can also feed two birds with one scone by applying for a so-called entry visa for receiving a residence permit before the admission; thus, you will not need to lodge two separate applications.

If you have already reached the door of consulate, you are required to show

  • the completed form of your application,
  • two facial photographs made not more than 3 months prior to date (35 mm x 45 mm = approx. 1.38 x 1.77 inches),
  • the prescribed enclosures of the given application according its specific purpose e.g. family unification, study, voluntary and social activities, medical treatments, seasonal jobs, and
  • the receipt of payment of the procedural fee (nota bene: in our material world an application is deemed to have been received by an authority if the administrative service fee has been paid).

Don’t be surprised when the officer checks your facial likeness and takes your fingerprints throughout the process either, since these modern 21st-century resident permits are issued with biometric data newly.

Application in Hungary

Of course, if you were not deterred by the name of the Hungarian local authority or out of pure adventurousness you would rather take the hard way to obtain your residence permit, then the Hungarian law is on your side, since it provides for the possibility to lodge your application at the regional directorate with territorial competence at the place of your future accommodation.

The steps for acquiring the residence permit at the Office of Immigration are as follows:

  1. Submission of the application and other necessary documents (specific for the purpose of the given application e.g. admission letter of a university for researchers or private entrepreneurial license for a sole trader), including a valid passport, proof of financial means, proof of accommodation, payment of the applicable fee for the residence permit.
  2. Attending an interview with an immigration officer.
  3. Waiting for the decision on the application.
  4. If the application is approved, the residence permit will be issued.
  5. Collecting the permit from the office or waiting for it to be delivered.
Online application

If you are short on time and would gladly avoid the above-described steps, the queuing and the unforseeable adversities, you can also submit your application electronically on the website called „Enter Hungary” operated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade under following link: https://enterhungary.gov.hu/eh/

If you, as an American, imagine your future in Hungary, would like to settle here or plan to do business, research, or study in our country, feel free to contact our law firm. Our English-speaking lawyers will be happy to help you.

The author of this article is on the list of lawyers and law firms provided by the U.S. Embassy of Hungary as a convenience to U.S. citizens and companies.

Contact: balazs.acs@nzp.de