On 15 June 2022, the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic approved an amendment to the laws collectively referred to as Lex Ukraine. The amendments primarily concern the tightening of the conditions for granting temporary protection, the conditions for termination of temporary protection and deadlines for issuing a decision, but they also cover the area of health insurance, humanitarian benefits or measures in relation to Russian and Belarusian citizens. The legal norm entered into force on 27 June 2022.
Modification of the conditions of inadmissibility of the application and termination of temporary protection
The proposed amendment tightens not only the conditions for granting temporary protection, but also the grounds for its termination and the deadlines for issuing a decision.
If a foreigner has applied for temporary or international protection in another EU Member State, his/her application will be inadmissible in the Czech Republic. The law also regulates inadmissibility in case it is submitted by a foreigner who has already been granted temporary or international protection in another EU Member State. The amendment also focuses on cases where the foreigner is an EU citizen, in which case the law also makes it impossible to obtain protection.
In addition to the grounds for the inadmissibility of an application for temporary protection, the law also exhaustively defines the grounds for its termination, following the submission or granting of temporary or international protection by another EU Member State. Furthermore, the right to stay for temporary protection is also terminated by the granting of a visa to stay for more than 90 days or a residence permit in another state.
Futhermore, the law also regulates the deadlines for issuing a decision on temporary protection. In particularly complex cases, the police or the Ministry of the Interior may decide within 60 days from the date of application. Otherwise, the decision will be issued without undue delay.
Besides the inadmissibility of an application for temporary protection, the law also regulates the inadmissibility of an application for a residence permit issued by the Czech Republic. Foreigners who are or would be entitled to temporary protection in the Czech Republic, as well as foreigners who have already been granted temporary protection, will not be entitled to apply for a residence permit (visa or residence permit) at any embassy of the Czech Republic.
New rules on health insurance and other benefits
An important change within the framework of the amendment of the Lex Ukraine concerns health insurance. Until now, holders of temporary protection were part of the public health insurance system for 360 days from the date of obtaining this residence permit. However, the amendment reduces this period to 150 days. After expiration of this period, temporary protection holders must register with the local labour office or make monthly payments to the health insurance system. In practical terms, this means that those refugees who have obtained temporary protection status on 1 March 2022, for example, will lose automatic access to the public health insurance system as early as 29 July 2022.
With this amendment, the humanitarian benefit of CZK 5,000 will also be unavailable for temporary protection holders who benefit from free accommodation, daily meals and basic hygiene items provided by the government. In addition, this humanitarian aid will be linked to permanent residence and only those who have a registered residence in the Czech Republic and are actually staying here under temporary protection will be entitled to it.
The solidarity benefit for accommodation providers to Ukrainian refugees is set at CZK 3,000 per person (maximum CZK 12,000 per household). Accommodation providers whose electricity and gas are paid for by the Ukrainians themselves are still entitled to this benefit.
The obligation to report a change of address has been reduced to 3 days from the occurrence of the change.
Measures for citizens of Russia and Belarus
As for measures for Russian and Belarusian nationals, the new law allows the government to restrict the migration of third-country citizens by regulation. According to the newly issued government regulation, applications for residence permits of nationals of the Russian Federation and Belarus submitted at embassies of the Czech Republic will continue to be considered inadmissible. However, the regulation continues to provide for exceptions and extends these exceptions to include the possibility of family reunification with third-country citizens already residing in the Czech Republic. Thus, family members can now apply for a long-term residence permit for the purpose of family cohabitation in the Czech Republic.
In summary, the following applications are acceptable in relation to Russian and Belarusian citizens:
- Applications for short-term visas for family members of Czech or EU citizens
- Applications for long-term residence permits for the purpose of family cohabitation (for family members of citizens of the RF and BLR residing in the Czech Republic)
- Applications for permanent residence (for special reasons, such as humanitarian reasons, or applications of a minor alien family member of a citizen of the RF and BLR with permanent residence)
- Visa or residence applications submitted by persons whose stay on Czech territory is in the interest of the Czech Republic (certified by the Minister of Foreign Affairs)
Thus, the first applications for the issue of an employee or blue card from embassies for citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus remain impossible. The validity of the regulation is set until 31 March 2023. We will keep you informed of further changes.