Amendment to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals
The amendment to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals has been under discussion since June 2018. We have previously informed you about the amendment to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals submitted by the government and the essential changes proposed by the amendment.
The draft bill includes the transposition of the EU directive which simplifies the residence of foreign students and research workers on the territory of the individual member states and additionally regulates – among other things – the setting of quotas for economic migrants and obligatory adaptation-integration courses for certain foreign nationals in the Czech Republic. Now we bring you the latest news concerning the development of the legislative process and a summary of other changes proposed in the Chamber of Deputies.
In early December 2018, the last debate regarding the draft bill took place in the Lower Chamber, and at present we are waiting for the opinion of the relevant departments that focus on the matters of residence of foreign nationals, which is related to the delay of the entry into force. The following changes to the Act have been proposed as part of the legislative process:
- It has been proposed to strike out the institute of the so-called extraordinary work visa due to the foreign national’s inability to settle in the Czech Republic and obtain certain rights here, inability to bring family to the Czech Republic (albeit temporarily), work uncertainty and due to the lack of guarantee from employers that they will be able to continue employing the trained and vetted foreign worker for more than one years.
- A fee has been proposed for the obligatory participation in the adaptation-integration course. The course should become obligatory from 2021; the Ministry of the Interior will be able to grant exemptions from the obligatory participation in the course for reasons meriting special consideration.
- The yearly number of visa applications for residence over 90 days for the purpose of business and for the employee card should be spread out evenly in each calendar month based on a Government Decree, in the category of government-approved programmes and in the category of other applications. If the maximum number of applications at the respective embassy is reached, the applications submitted beyond the limit set for the relevant category will be unacceptable, even if the maximum number of applications in another category has not been attained. The applicant will therefore be able to apply for a different kind of residence permit. The quotas will not concern the institute of the intra-company employee transfer card and the blue card, but the current functional projects of economic migration within the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Trade will be included.
- It has also been proposed to cancel the fee for processing requests for appointment for submitting an application for long-term visa and long-term residence in person at embassies, and to cap the fees for submitting an application both at embassies and in the Czech Republic.
- In addition, there is criticism for the proposal stipulating that required documents are to be submitted only in paper form, since this circumvents the case law of the Supreme Administrative Court (cf. e.g. ruling no. 1 Azs 339/2017–52) and encumbers the proceedings at embassies with requirements that go completely against the development of modern technologies and the e-government strategy.
- Another proposal requires the applicant for an employee card collecting the residence card to prove that they are already employed by a specific employer. The objective of this proposal is to prevent situations where the foreign national arrives in the Czech Republic and then fails to start working for the employer at the job position for which the employee card should be issued. It often happens in practice that the employer is unaware that the foreign national has arrived in the Czech Republic and the employer therefore cannot comply with the legal obligation of reporting the foreign national to the Labour Office. The foreign national subsequently uses the obtained employee card to transfer to another employer, or misuses it for other purposes (e.g. illegal work).
- The holder of an employee card should now be required to report a change of employer, work placement or employment at another job position with the same or different employer to the Ministry within 30 days before the change occurs, and no sooner than six months after the entry into force of the decision to issue an employment card. The Ministry shall inform the foreign national and the future employer within 30 days of the receipt of the announcement whether the conditions required for the change of employer, work placement or employment at another job position with the same or different employer have been met and whether the foreign national may be employed at this job position.
- The proposal also strikes out the item concerning the reported address location in the residence card. The foreign national would continue to be required to report changes in address, but the current address would be entered in information systems and travel documents. This would save administrative work related to the changes of biometric cards (including the fee).
- The obligation to keep copies of documents proving the existence of employment relation at the workplace in the Czech Republic would also concern a foreign employer that has assigned its employee to perform work in the Czech Republic, and the documents that fulfil this obligation have to be translated into Czech. The information and record-keeping obligation and the obligation to keep copies of documents proving the existence of employment relation at the workplace would thus be transferred to the foreign employer.
- The labour market test before the submission of an application for an employee card or a blue card should be shortened to 10 days.