Romanian employers are increasingly recruiting qualified staff from abroad in an attempt to cover the shortage registered on the labor market. Understanding the situation, the Romanian Government has supplemented the quota for newly admitted foreign employees to the labour market in recent years. In 2021, the authorities decided on a contingent of 50.000 foreign workers[1], compared to 2020, when the quota was established at 30.000 work permits for this category of employees.[2]

The unprecedent labour crisis in the country is caused by the migration of Romanian nationals, but also by the declining birth rate. And although employers open positions for both qualified and unqualified workers, the jobs remain vacant for long period of times.

Even though most of the foreign workers coming to Romania are employed in sectors such as constructions and hospitality, where the standards are not high in terms of qualifications, there are also companies seeking to fill positions that require experience and even leadership skills (i.e., furniture design).

What type of jobs are available for qualified foreign workers?

The positions waiting to be filled by foreign workers cover various labour sectors, such as agriculture, constructions, oil and gas, industrial plants, logistics, naval, trading or IT. These vacancies are available for both qualified and unqualified persons.

Last year, regardless of the context generated by the pandemic, more than 7.000 foreign workers applied for jobs available on construction sites in Romania, according to data registered by the end of September 2020.[3] Just half of them are qualified, while the rest are willing to carry out activities such as building demolition or cutting construction materials, where there is no need for experience or special qualifications.

Employers’ interest in importing workforce from Asia has increased in almost all the labour sectors, except for hotels, restaurants, cafes and other industries affected by the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic. Thus, last year, in 2020, Asian workers were mainly employed in sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, car services, factories, constructions and even SPAs and beauty salons.[4]

Most of the companies turn to specialized recruitment agencies when it comes to employing foreign workers. And considering the amount of paperwork required in the process, this is the best approach, allowing them to save time, energy and money. The agency identifies potential workers who meet the employer’s criteria, takes care of the visa and permit related paperwork and assists foreign employees in obtaining a residence permit.

Recruitment agencies mediate the labour placement in Romania from countries such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh, Turkey, Sri Lanka and many more, covering various activity sectors.

The legal procedure for the employment of foreign qualified workers in Romania

Companies employing staff from countries outside the European Union (especially from Asian countries), are required to go through a legal process consisting of several stages, the first one being the approval from the Romanian Immigration Office. If the quota set by the Government for the current year is exceeded, employers will no longer be able to hire staff from non-EU countries. This is why it is recommended to plan ahead and to draw a strategy that will allow employers to fill vacancies. As for the legal formalities, it is better to start the process as soon as possible.

In order to receive a favourable answer from the Romanian Immigration Office, the employer must meet certain criteria, such as: to prove that the foreigner meets the conditions of professional training and work experience provided by the legislation in force for that specific job, to prove that the company has not been sanctioned in the past for illegal employment, to have paid up to date all financial obligations to the state budget and many more.

The approval from the immigration office is issued within 30 days of registration of the application, except for situations where extended checks are required. Once the employer is authorized to hire the respective foreign worker, the latter will have to obtain the long-term work visa granted by the Romanian Embassy or Consulate.

The conclusion we can draw from the above information is that Romania is facing a cause-and-effect situation. The cause: qualified Romanian nationals leaving the countries in search for better salaries. The effect: Romanian companies in need of filling up a high number of job vacancies. Among the foreigners who show the most interest in accessing the Romanian labour market are the Asian workers, motivated by higher salaries and better working conditions, compared to those in their country of origin.