POLAND – Changes in Immigration Procedures
As anticipated, significant changes to the Polish immigration system have gone into effect from May 2014 due to the implementation of the EU Single Permit directive, passed into EU law in December 2011.
From the beginning of this month and in accordance with the Act of Parliament on Foreigners of 12 December 2013 (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] of 2013 Item 1650), the Polish authorities have introduced a number of amendments relevant to corporate immigration, including:
- the introduction of the single work and residence permit;
- a longer validity for a temporary residence permit;
- a clearer route for business owners in Poland to regularise their immigration status;
- increased possibilities of applying for permanent residence;
- and renewal timing extensions.
Single Permit Applications
A single permit application authorising both work and residence may now be filed in-country with the provincial governor's office (Urzad Wojewodzki) in Poland with jurisdictional authority over the address where the applicant will be residing. It is no longer necessary to file separate work permit and residence permit applications. This is intended to streamline and expedite applications.
Note that the current practice where foreign nationals holding Schengen D visas for Poland do not need to apply for a residence permit will not change.
A temporary residence permit may be issued for the maximum period of three years, which is one year longer than before. This should cut down on renewal applications and costs for companies.
Those who wish to set up business entities in Poland now have clearer requirements to obtain a residence permit, as the Act sets out the specific economic conditions that a company must meet for its owner to qualify for a residence permit in Poland. As before, the intended economic activity should be beneficial for the Polish economy.
Section VI of the Act (Article 195-225) makes provision for persons of Polish origin, “Karta Polaka” holders (individuals who have previously held Polish citizenship), children of parents with a long-term EU residence/permanent residence permit; victims of human trafficking; individuals under international protection or those with refugee status and subsidiary protection to apply for a permanent residence permit in Poland.
The period that a renewal for a Polish immigration document can be submitted has been extended, allowing applications to be submitted up to the date of expiration as follows:
- A residence permit renewal request may be submitted up to the day of the existing permit validity (instead of no later than 45 days before the expiry of the validity of a residence card)
- A visa may be renewed up to the last day of legal residence (instead of 3 days before the validity expiration)
Other changes to be aware of are listed below:
- Any person who submits a request for the legalization of stay in Poland will be required to submit their fingerprints (with the exception of children of less than six years of age). As a result, the application should be lodged in person.
- A foreign national is no longer required to submit a signed lease agreement as evidence of accommodation. At the time of filing the application, it is enough to prove that the foreigner has a guaranteed place of residence with, for example, a letter from the employer confirming this.
- On refusal of legalization of his/her stay, of granting protection or on withdrawal of a residence permit or protection, a foreigner has a grace period of 30 days to leave Poland legally (without any negative consequences normally associated with illegal residence).
- Note all of the above changes in Poland, including the single permit introduction, changes to existing permits and timing for renewals.
- Expect some delays in processing applications as the new regulations are implemented.