HELPERS is the leading provider of business and immigration services in Hungary.

Work permit and family unification in Hungary: when to switch?

August 16, 2021

When someone moves to Hungary to live and work here, they would often want their family members to follow them so they can be together. Family unification lets the third-country national spouse and underage children of the main residency holder move to Hungary. However, with time the spouse may wish to start working too. How to do it right? Let us show you.

Working in Hungary as a foreigner

A third-country national can work in Hungary if they have a permit. Family unification grants residency, but it does not double as a work permit. If the spouse wants to enter employment in Hungary, they must apply for a work permit.

The work permit procedure takes 70 days after application. Before you can apply, however, you will need to find an employer that is willing to sign a labor contract with you knowing that you can actually enter employment only more than two months later. If you have special skills that make you better qualified for a job than any other candidate, finding such an employer is feasible enough.

However, you can in fact perform work with family unification – if you become self-employed. Your income from self-employment cannot exceed the income of your spouse (the person based on whose residency you applied for family unification), but there are no other restrictions. Working as self-employed lets you provide your services to multiple clients, and one of them may end up offering you a position. If that happens, you can apply for a work permit, and you can continue to perform your services to your future employer in self-employment until your work permit is granted.

Different permits for different conditions

The type of your Hungarian residence permit always reflects the main basis of your stay in Hungary. “Switching” between residence permit types is the same as if you were applying for a new permit, and will take the same amount of time.

As a result, you should be aware of what changes require a modification to your residence permit. In this sense, the most important factor is the source of your income:

  1. If you are operating a business (and make money on your own), you need a residence permit for gainful activity.
  2. If you are employed (and receive salary from your employer), you need a work permit.
  3. If you just want to be together as a family (and you will be financially supported by your spouse), you need family unification.

In line with this, if you are in Hungary on family unification but you wish to enter employment, you must apply for a work permit. Conversely, if you are in Hungary on a work permit but you wish quit and spend time with your family, you can apply for family unification based on the status of your spouse, who must be indicated as the person who will support you financially.

If you are a third-country national in Hungary who has a residence permit based on gainful activity or employment and you wish to get married, your source of income will probably not change. Accordingly, you do not have to apply for a new residence permit. However, changes in your personal data should still be reported to the Immigration Office. Read more about that here.

Can we help you?

The rule of thumb is that your residence permit is based on the source of your income, and in some cases you might need to switch between different types of residency. Helpers Hungary has more than 15 years of experience with assisting foreigners in Hungary with issues related to immigration, and we would be happy to help you too. If you want to get in touch, just fill in the form below.


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