A new electronic card is gradually replacing a sticker as residence permit for nationals of third countries living in Greece, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Monday.
The card resembles a bank card in size and includes identification information and biometric data including a photograph, fingerprints and the migrant’s signature.
Mouzalas described the card as “a milestone, a massive effort to improve the lives of those who have been living in Greece for several years now.” This is a project, he noted, that “should have begun in 2008 and should have been completed in 2012, when the country was still at a state of normalcy.” It began and was completed at a time when the country is facing cuts in funding and personnel, he said.
The card was first distributed in February 2017, and as of October 56,000 individuals have acquired it. An additional 43,000 electronic permits are in the pipeline by migration authorities.
Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Balafas said there are over 600,000 economic migrants living and working in Greece, while another 100,000-150,000 are unregistered foreigners, whose care is a state obligation as well.
The card is issued for work purposes, humanitarian reasons, studying, research and technical training, family reunification, as well as for victims of human trafficking.
The supporting system involves 57 civil service authorities throughout Greece, and future extensions of the program include the setup and operation of a Single Point of Contact for faster exchange of information with other countries, and a permanent electronic platform digitising all archives.
The project’s cost is 2,1 million euros and it is funded by the NSRF Partnership Agreement for the Reform of the Public Sector.