New Rules for Foreigners
June 3, 2014
Rafał Rogala, head of the Office for Foreigners, talks to the Voice.
Poland has a new law on foreigners. Why are these new regulations needed?
The new law is designed as a system of changes that conform with Poland’s migration policy adopted by the government in July 2012. The law contains a set of regulations that make life easier for foreigners who work and study in Poland and for other people who would like to legalize their stay. The regulations also aim to prevent situations where the stay of a foreigner becomes illegal. Finally, the law adapts Polish regulations to EU standards.
How exactly do the new regulations help foreigners?
The new regulations seek to simplify and speed up procedures while making them less formalized. They ensure greater stability for foreigners who are staying in Poland and reduce the costs of proceedings and documents issued to foreigners. For example, the new law extends the maximum validity of temporary residency permits from two to three years. What’s more, as of now foreigners can apply for a temporary residency permit at any convenient time during their legal stay in Poland. Before May 1 this year, when the new law took effect, all those who wanted to extend their stay in Poland had to apply for such permits no later than 45 days before their visas or most recent residency permits were due to expire. That led to many problems and the status of many foreigners in Poland became illegal in the process.
There are also new rules pertaining to foreigners who attend Polish universities. With the new law in force, this group will be granted their first temporary residency permits for 15 months. Foreigners who continue their studies for another year can receive such permits for up to three years instead of just one year, as was the case before. There are also new rules governing foreign graduates of Polish universities who seek jobs in Poland. They can now apply for a temporary residency permit for one year.
Are there any new rules for foreigners seeking to enter the Polish labor market?
An important change is a combined residency and work permit. A foreigner with a job in Poland can now apply for a residency permit and a work permit in a single procedure. Before, an employer who wanted to hire a foreigner needed to apply for a work permit for them so that their stay in Poland could be made legal. The recent changes also allow foreigners to remain unemployed for one month without having their temporary residency and work permits automatically revoked.
Changes have also been made to regulations on temporary residency permits issued to foreigners who plan to start a business in Poland. Under the new regulations, such permits can still only be granted to foreigners whose business brings benefits to Poland. However, the criteria of what this means are now clearer and more objective than before. Such transparent rules work to the advantage of both foreigners and officials who examine their applications.
Any other changes that make foreigners’ life easier in Poland?
The law contains more than 500 articles and so there are many changes. One example of modified regulations that make foreigners’ life easier concerns the financial resources that a foreigner needs to have. Under the old regulations, foreigners were required to prove they had a stable and regular source of income sufficient to pay the costs of living for themselves and their family members. The income was assessed after accommodation costs were deducted. In order to simplify the legalization procedure, accommodation costs will no longer be examined.
Will the new regulations encourage immigration to Poland?
The European Social Survey has found that, along with Germany, Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states, Poland is a net emigration country, which means that those who leave the country outnumber immigrants. Immigration to Poland is on the rise, but the increase is slow if not negligible. However, the survey clearly shows that Poland is a relatively welcoming country for immigrants and Poles can see the upsides of immigration. That is to say we are aware of the benefits that Poland derives from immigration as long as it is managed in the right way. So it seemed only reasonable to introduce regulations that could benefit both foreigners and the Polish administration and make life easier for them, while at the same time creating tools to make sure that migration would continue to be effectively managed.
More information at www.cudzoziemcy.gov.pl