Employment of Foreigners during the Pandemic: 19 Most Frequently Asked Questions The current situation and crisis measures taken by the government fundamentally influence, among other things, the employment of foreigners. Employers and employees are thus faced with many new questions: How will they be affected by the closure of borders? How will immigration permits be submitted and approved? And how will the measures influence business trips? We have summed up the 19 most frequently asked questions and answers related to this topic that have appeared in our special webcast.
1) What is currently happening in the Czech Republic?
A: The Government of the Czech Republic declared a nationwide quarantine in its entire territory with effect from March 16th 2020 till March 24th (6 AM) with the possibility of extension. Schools are closed, large events cancelled, restaurants and shops closed (with exceptions). The government has prohibited the free movement of persons in the whole country with the exceptions of: travel to/from employment; routes necessary to provide for basic life needs; routes strictly necessary to meet the needs and serve other people; a necessary health stay in nature or a park. Starting from March 19th 2020, it is forbidden to go outside without protective equipment of the respiratory tract.
2) Are people who are departing the country able to do so? Are there any restrictions or concerns?
A: Starting from March 16th 2020, foreigners who leave the country are not allowed to come back for the duration of the state of emergency. Czech citizens are prohibited from leaving the country altogether (with some exceptions, e.g. commuters).
3) Are people who are arriving to the country able to do so? Are there any restrictions or concerns?
A: Only Czech citizens and foreigners holding a valid Czech residence permit/visa allowing stay for more than 90 days are allowed to enter the country. Each arrival may become subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine in case of disease symptoms.
4) Has the current situation affected submission of new applications abroad?
A: Yes. All Czech embassies and consulates have suspended accepting new visa/residence permit requests for 30 days. All existing appointments to submit visa/residence permit applications have been cancelled until further notice. Enrolment into special governmental migration programs for companies has also been suspended for the duration of the state of emergency.
5) What is the status of applications that are still being processed?
A: All short-term (Schengen) visa applications under review have been stopped. The processing of applications for residence permits/visas over 90 days submitted abroad has been suspended until further notice. Applications submitted domestically are processed as usual.
6) I am a holder of a visa for the purpose of collecting a residence permit (D/VR) and I am still abroad. Can I enter the Czech Republic right now?
A: No, it is necessary to wait until the state of emergency (and the travel ban) has been lifted.
7) I have already arrived into the Czech Republic, I would like to start working, but I cannot submit my biometric data due to the closure of the Immigration Office. What should I do?
A: Each foreigner needs to submit their biometric data prior to their first day at work. This may be a problem in case the Immigration Office is closed (and some of them currently are). It is possible to ask the Ministry of Interior to issue the “confirmation of fulfilment of conditions” electronically, which means that a foreigner can start working even without submitting biometric data (that must still be done after the Immigration Office reopens).
8) Are the Immigration Offices still open?
A: Yes, but operations have been severely limited. The offices are open only on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9 AM and 12 PM and only deal with urgent matters. Some offices are closed altogether. All existing appointments arranged with the Ministry of Interior prior to March 16th 2020 have been cancelled.
9) I was supposed to collect my residence permit at the Immigration Office next week. How do I know that my appointment was cancelled?
A: You should call the hotline of your Immigration Office and check the status of your appointment. It is also possible that the authority will give you a phone call to reschedule your appointment. However, you should be ready for the possibility your appointment will take place only after the state of emergency has been lifted.
10) My long-term visa is going to expire next month. Do I have to leave the Czech Republic before it expires?
A: Foreigners staying legally in the Czech Republic at the moment of the declaration of the state of emergency may continue to remain in the territory for the duration of the state of emergency without any need to resolve their residency status issues. All deadlines have been automatically extended.
11) I would like to extend the validity of my residence permit, but I cannot book an appointment at the Immigration Office. What should I do?
A: Filing applications requiring personal participation is currently not possible. However, you can submit your application by post. In fact, the authority has recommended submitting all applications by post for the duration of the state of emergency. We strongly recommend using registered mail when interacting with the authority. You can also communicate with the Ministry of Interior electronically via data box.
12) I need to leave the country urgently, but my permit is going to expire soon. What should I do?
A: If you have already submitted your extension application, you can apply for a bridge visa. It is not necessary to have an appointment for this task. You can visit your local Immigration Office on Monday or Wednesday between 9 AM and 12 PM and the authority will issue the visa on the spot. Please note that you will have to bring a plane ticket or other confirmation with you. Also, please bear in mind that you will not be able to return to the Czech Republic for the duration of the state of emergency.
13) I am currently abroad and my Czech residence permit is expiring next month. What should I do?
A: According to the authority, you should return to the Czech Republic as soon as possible.
14) I have an employee card and I recently lost my job. Is it true that I cannot start working for another employer in the first 6 months after receiving my permit?
A: Normally, this is true. However, if you work in the Czech Republic and you are a holder of an employee card, you can from March 20th 2020 change your employer or your job position before the end of the state of emergency and you do not have to finish the 6-month period. You are still obliged to report the change to the Ministry of the Interior in accordance with the legal conditions.
15) I am a holder of a short-term employment visa and a work permit, which is going to expire during the state of emergency. What should I do?
A: In case you decide to stay in the country, you may continue working for your employer even after the expiry of your visa and work permit. However, it is necessary to have a valid employment contract with your employer.
16) I am a citizen of another EU country, I work in the Czech Republic, but I am currently abroad. Can I return to the Czech Republic right now?
A: Yes, but only if you hold a valid certificate of temporary residence or a permanent residence permit, otherwise you will be considered a tourist by the Czech authority and you will have to wait until the state of emergency is over before being able to return.
17) I am an employer and one of my employees is currently on vacation in his home country. He would like to return to the Czech Republic but is unable to do so because his flight was cancelled. Can this be considered as a legal barrier?
A: In case an employee cannot return to the Czech Republic from vacation due to the current governmental measures, it is considered a legal barrier on the side of the employee, so he is not entitled to compensation of salary. However, the employer should excuse the absence of his employee in this case.
18) I am an employer and one of my employees is currently on a business trip abroad. He would like to return to the Czech Republic but is unable to do so because his flight was cancelled. Can this be considered as a legal barrier?
A: In case an employee cannot return to the Czech Republic from a business trip due to the current governmental measures, it is considered a legal barrier on the side of the employee, so technically speaking, his business trip continues. In case the employee is unable to work from abroad, he is entitled to a compensation of salary.
19) I am an employer and one of my employees left the country during the state of emergency, even though he knew he would not be able to return to the country. What should I do?
A: This may be considered an unexcused absence of the employee and can lead to his termination.