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Get a residence permit for Albania for U.S. citizens

Jan 12, 2022

I want to get a residence permit for Albania

I’m moving to Albania in 2022. I want to get a residence permit for Albania. I’ll start by looking at the US Embassy in Albania. (1) As a U.S. citizen I don’t need a visa to enter Albania. I can enter and stay up to one year without a residence permit. If U.S. citizens want to stay more than a year, are offered a job, or will be enrolling in school or university, they must apply for a residence permit. If you are from a different country, you can check the entry rules here. (2)

Apply to get a residence permit for Albania

In order to get a residence permit for Albania beyond the “free” one year period, U.S citizens must apply at the Albanian Regional Directorate of Border and Migration Police. (3) You must appear in person at the regional office of your residence. Requirements vary depending upon purpose of your stay. Also, the U.S. Embassy in Albania website notes that “different regional offices may have slightly different procedures, so you should check with the office where you plan to apply for complete instructions.

If you want to get a residence permit for Albania and are not in Albania, check with your nearest Albanian embassy. (4) 

How to legally stay in Albania without a residence permit

To legally stay in Albania, after the “free” one year period, without obtaining a residence permit, Americans must leave Albania at the end of that year and stay out of the country for 90 days before re-entering. So, if you don’t get a residence permit for Albania and stay for longer than a year, you will be subject to Albanian laws and judicial procedures. You could be fined, detained, and deported. The U.S. Embassy cannot help you with immigration matters. 

New law on foreigners to get a residence permit in Albania

The new Albanian law on foreigners 79/2021 (5) went into effect on November 2, 2021 and replaces Law No. 108/2013. The Deloitte Legal News October 2021 discusses details (6) relating to developments in the residence rules in Albania. 

The Unique Permit for foreigners in Albania

The law now provides a single application procedure for a residence and work permit for foreigners, called the unique permit. The unique permits allow foreign nationals to legally reside in Albania for work purposes. The requirements for the unique permits vary depending on the type of unique permit. There are unique permit types for self-employed foreign nationals, digitally mobile employees, investors, and service contractors, among others. 

According to Article 37 of the law, foreigners need to apply for a temporary residence permit within 30 days of entering Albania on a visa, or within the length of the legal stay if entering without a visa. To renew a temporary residence permit, the foreigner must request its renewal within 60 days before the expiration of the existing residence permit.

Temporary Residence Permits for foreigners in Albania

In addition to the unique permits, there are temporary residence permits issued for motives such as family reunification, studies, scientific research, entrepreneurship, retirement, and real estate ownership, among others. 

A very interesting addition to the new law is Article 33, which grants citizens of the United States, European Union member states, and citizens of the Republic of Kosovo a 5-year residence permit, when applying for the first time and meeting the general criteria in Article 36. 

Interestingly, the key phrase in Article 36 is “1. The foreigner is provided with a temporary residence permit, which is valid for the period specified in the application, but not more than one year when applying for the first time, if it is not otherwise provided in this law or agreement ratified by the Republic of Albania.” 

Not too shabby deal for Americans, Europeans and Kosovars!

In addition to the provision above, Article 36 states that a foreigner with a temporary residence permit can stay out of Albania for up to 180 days if they notify the police of the reasons for leaving Albania. Also, the foreigner must register in the civil status office of the local government where they have temporary residence within 10 days, and notify the authorities if they change residence.  

Required documents to get a residence permit for Albania

You will need the required documents to apply for a residence permit for Albania. (7) Some of the documents must be certified with an apostille by the issuing authority, such as the U.S. Federal government, U.S. courts, or state governments. An apostille is a certificate that makes the document valid for international use. 

  • Copy of your Birth Certificate from your state or territory of birth with an apostille from that state or territory.
  • Copy of your Marriage Certificate (if married) with an an apostille from that state or territory.
  • FBI Identity History with a U.S. Department of State apostille.
  • Affidavit of Eligibility for a Residency Permit in the Republic of Albania.

Certified copy of your birth and marriage certificate with an apostille attached

You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate with an state issued apostille attached. (8) If you are married, you may need a copy of your marriage certificate with an apostille attached. For birth and marriage certificates, the states, territories and other jurisdictions have their own procedures for issuing apostilles. Luckily, you can find the link to every state’s apostille issuing agency at the Hague Convention website here. (9) Note that a state-issued document with an apostille does not require additional certification by the U.S. Department of State, according to their Apostille Requirements page.

FBI Certificate of Lack of a Criminal Record with a State Department apostille attached

You will also need a certificate of criminal status issued by the U.S. government, according to the U.S. Embassy in Albania website. The State Department Criminal Record Checks page says that U.S. citizens may be asked to present a “certificate of good conduct” or a “lack of criminal record.” (10) 

Actually, you will need is an FBI Identification Record, also known as a “rap sheet.” (10) To get one, or more accurately, proof that one doesn’t exist, you have three options. Go to the FBI Identity History Summary Checks page to get started. All three options below are on this page. (11) 

1. You can electronically submit your Identity History Summary Request to the FBI.  

Note: You may still need to submit your fingerprints by mail if you don’t live near a U.S. Post Office that can electronically send your fingerprints.  

2. Also, you can mail your Identity History Summary Request to the FBI.  You need to send proof of identity and a set of rolled-inked fingerprints with $18 certified check or money order payable to the Treasury of the United States to: 

FBI, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Attn: SCU, Mod D-2

1000 Custer Hollow Road

Clarksburg, WV 26306

3. Finally, you can submit your Identity History Summary Request to an FBI-Approved Channeler. These are private businesses that are contracted with the FBI to submit your request on your behalf. Additional fees may apply above the FBI fees. 

You will need a set of fingerprints to accompany your Identity History Summary Request. The form is called FD-1164. You can download it here. (12)

Everything you need to request a copy of your Identity History Summary

At the very bottom of the FBI’s Identity History Summary Checks page (11) is a small section called Departmental Order Information Packet with links to everything needed to assist you with requesting a copy of your identity History Summary (or proof that one does not exist.) 

1. Departmental Order Information Packet Cover Letter

2. U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73

3. Applicant Information Form

4. Identity History Summary Request Checklist

5. Credit Card Payment Form

6. FBI Identity History Summary Request (FD-1164) Fingerprint Card

At the bottom of the State Department’s Criminal Record Checks page is a section for Authentication of Police or FBI Certificates of Lack of a Criminal Record. (13) It says:

“The FBI’s CJIS Division will authenticate U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 fingerprint search results for international requests by placing the FBI seal and signature of a Division official on the results, if requested at the time of submission. Documents prepared in this manner may then be sent to the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office by the requestor to be authenticated, if necessary. Please be sure to indicate the country in which the document is to be used.” 

Request for Authentication Services by the U.S. Department of State

Once you have your FBI History Summary aka “lack of criminal history” documents back from the FBI, you can send them to the Department of State to request an apostille. (14)

You will need to fill out the form DS-4194. (15) Appointments and Drop-offs are suspended due to the pandemic so you can only mail in your request. As of July 15, 2021 the fee is $20 per document. Include the following items in your request:

1. A completed Request for Authentication Services DS-4194 form. Write the document’s country of use in Section 4. 

2. The document(s) to be authenticated.

3. The fees, paid by check or money order. See bottom of page for specific requirements.

4. A self-addressed, prepaid envelope for return of your document.

You will need an Affidavit of Eligibility for a Residency Permit in the Republic of Albania

You will need to submit an Affidavit of Eligibility for a Residency Permit in the Republic of Albania to be notarized by a consular official at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana. (16) The notary fee is $50 USD and can be paid in dollars, Albanian leke, or credit card. You can make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy through their online calendar. (17)

On this Affidavit of Eligibility form they ask if you’ve ever been arrested or convicted of any crime in the U.S. or any other country. Perhaps, if you do have a criminal record, it isn’t a deal breaker, depending upon the type of crime you were convicted for. 

Are you ready to get a residence permit for Albania?

If you’ve read all the way to the end of this article, you may be ready to get a residence permit for Albania. I am going to follow my own blog post to request all of the documents in order to apply for a residence permit in Albania. It might be difficult or impossible to get all of the necessary documents from Albania. You might want to get them all, except the Affidavit of Eligibility, before you go to Albania, so that you don’t have to make a return trip to the United States if you decide you want to stay in Albania. Good Luck!

References

1. US Embassy in Albania- Entering and Residing.

2. Albania- Visa Regime for Foreign Citizens.

3. Albanian Regional Directorate of Border and Migration Police.

4. Albanian Embassy in United States.

5. Albanian Law “on foreigners”.

6. Deloitte- Tax & Legal News Albania- October 2021

7. U.S. Embassy in Albania- Entering and Residing.

8. U.S. Department of State- Apostille Requirements.

9. Hague Convention- links to U.S. state agencies that issue apostilles.

10. Department of State- Criminal Record Checks.

11. FBI Identity History Summary Checks.

12. Fingerprint form (FD-1164) for FBI Identity History Summary Request.

13. U.S. Department of State- Criminal Record Checks- Authentication of Police or FBI Certificates or Lack of a Criminal Record.

14. U.S. Department of State- Requesting Authentication Services.

15. U.S. Department of State Form DS-4194, Request for Authentication Services.

16. Affidavit of Eligibility for Residency Permit in the Republic of Albania.

17. U.S. Embassy in Tirana notary service appointment calendar.

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