There are many conflicting views regarding the subject. Some say you can employ a foreign worker in a month; others say you will wait a year. Nothing is black and white, each case is different, but the same rules still apply. In the following article, you will find answers to the most common questions related to relocating employees from abroad.
1. How long before a foreign national can start?
This is the very first and most important question for business. If we are talking about a foreign national from a third country (EU/EEA/Swiss citizens have free access to the labour market and can theoretically start immediately) who is still abroad and has yet to apply for a Czech visa, we divide the estimated time into three phases:
- Document collection: How long does it take for the employer to issue a vacancy report and prepare an employment contract, and how long does it take the foreigner to get the documents needed to apply? This phase can take as little as 1 week or as long as 90 days. However, from experience, we know of cases where this period was much longer and more costly. For example, if the foreigner has resided in another country for more than 6 months consecutively in the last 3 years, they must submit a super-legalised criminal record certificate with their application. In some countries, this can be done online, in others through the embassy and in some cases, only in person. In our experience, the average length of this phase is approximately 30 days.
- Decision-making phase: The legal deadline for issuing a decision on an application for an employment card (the most common type of work visa in the Czech Republic) is 60 days or 90 days in complex cases. Most cases are not complex, which unfortunately cannot be said for most applications. If a foreign national submits an application that is missing something, the Ministry of the Interior must request a correction. This prolongs the phase by approximately 30 extra days.
- Arrival phase: Once the application has been approved, the foreign national provides proof of health insurance at the embassy, which then issues a visa for entry into the country. The foreign national then arrives in the Czech Republic, where they must register for residence, provide their biometric data and then collect a residence card. The foreign national can start working for a Czech employer once they provide their biometric data or once they receive the certificate confirming that they meet the conditions to be issued an employment card, which foreign nationals usually receive when they first visit the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic.
We recommend that you communicate the day of the arrival of the foreign worker to the team leader in time to make the necessary arrangements. If we find that Phase 1 is getting delayed (e.g. the Ministry of the Interior has requested additional documents, etc.), we need to bring this to their attention in a timely manner.
2. Is there no way to speed it up? What if I focus my recruitment on a specific country?
The visa process is the same for all third-country nationals – they all have to submit the same application documents, no matter whether they are from India, the USA or Ghana. However, for some countries, there are quotas for the number of accepted applications. At the same time, there are government programmes to encourage economic migration, which in some way favour companies that have enrolled in the programme and which, in return, vouch for the foreign national and demonstrate that they are fulfilling their legal obligations as an employer.
In the Key and Research Staff Programme, the decision-making period is reduced to 30 days, i.e. Phase 2 is reduced by half.
Is there a difference between a construction worker and a software developer? There is. Highly skilled positions are more likely to benefit from the concept of blue cards, for which there are no quotas at the embassies, and they get a priority application deadline through the programme. If we need to recruit construction workers and we are searching in countries for which quotas apply, it is important to note that a foreign national from such a country will never even apply because his qualifications are so low that the employer cannot include him in any government programme.
3. Why is it necessary to do a labour market test when it is clear that there is a long-term shortage of workers, and why does it take so long?
The labour market test is done in order to primarily fill vacancies with jobseekers (i.e. people on the Labour Office’s register), i.e. to reduce unemployment. The Czech Republic has had a low unemployment rate for a long time, which is why this procedure often seems redundant. However, it is a tool for protecting the labour market. The labour market test lasts 30 days, 10 days for some positions. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is currently reviewing this system and is considering abolishing the test for selected positions and qualifications. In practice, however, it turns out that if the application is registered on time, 30 days are usually required for the foreigner to collect the documents and obtain a term at the embassy, and thus there are no major delays.
4. How much does the whole process cost?
The visa process also entails the costs of moving the foreign national to the Czech Republic, and it is up to the employer to determine to what extent they are willing to reimburse these costs to the prospective employee. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account both administrative costs (fee for the criminal record certificate, apostilles, translation of documents into Czech, consular fee) and costs for assisting with the visa process, which may vary depending on the type of provider. At the same time, foreign nationals often move to the Czech Republic together with their family members, i.e. the employer should be clear whether it also intends to bear the costs associated with their relocation. In addition to these expenses, there are costs related to travel, accommodation upon arrival, health insurance, etc. It is advisable to have a clear relocation policy that sets out the ground rules and avoids many misunderstandings.
5. What if the employee leaves after arrival?
After a lengthy visa process and high relocation costs, the employee finally arrives, starts working and, after a few weeks, decides to leave for a competitor. The foreign national can resign during the probationary period, but in that case, they would have to return to the foreign country because their employment card would legally expire after 60 days. Foreign nationals with employee cards can apply to the Ministry of the Interior for approval to change employers only after 6 months after the issuance of the employee card. As regards the costs of relocation, we recommend that you conclude a written agreement with the employee setting out the rules for paying the costs of relocation if they decide to terminate the employment relationship early.
Do you not have clear rules for the relocation of foreign workers? Do you feel that the relocation process in your company is too slow? Do you need advice on specific cases of foreign employment? Contact our immigration specialists, who will be happy to answer your questions and help you set up a suitable strategy for employing foreign nationals.