The Czech Republic: Wide Ranging Changes of the Immigration Law Become Effective Today
Today - August 15, 2017, the amendment of the Act on Stay of Foreigners in the Czech Republic becomes effective.
The main aim of the amendment is to transpose the Directive 2014/66/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer ("ICT Directive"), however, the amendment brings significant changes in all the key areas of business immigration in the Czech Republic.
The main changes are introduced in the following areas:
Investment Residency Permits;
Business/Entrepreneurship Residency Permits;
Permanent Residency of non-EU nationals;
Submission of Residency Permit Applications on the Territory of the Czech Republic;
Submission of Visa/Residency Permit Applications at the Czech Embassies.
Separate residency permit - Long-Term Visa for Seasonal Work, has been introduced. Such visa can be obtained by employees who will find an employment in the Czech Republic, which is dependent on changing of the seasons. The Long-Term Visa for Seasonal Work can be obtained for up to 6 months in a calendar year without a possibility of extension.
Holders of this kind of Long-Term Visa are not allowed to change their residency type on the territory of the Czech Republic. Should the Seasonal Worker find a new employment (or other purpose of stay) in the Czech Republic, an application for the Employee Card/other Residency Permit Application will need to be submitted on the Embassy of the Czech Republic abroad.
An institute of “Unreliable employer” has been introduced. Unreliable employer will be an employer, which:
Has outstanding debt towards the Financial Authority, Customs, Social Security Authority or Health Insurance System;
Has been fined for illegal employment in the past 4 months;
Who is not performing business activities in the field stated in the articles of incorporation of such employer;
In the past year did not fulfil the obligation to sign up employee(s) to the social security and/or health insurance system;
Is in liquidation; or
Whose published registered seat (official business address) is different to the actual seat (business address), where the seat is to be meant a place where the leadership of the employer is working/making decisions.
The immigration Authority will have a right to check whether or not the employer, to whom the employee is filing the Employee Card application, is unreliable. If the employer is unreliable, the Employee Card application will not be approved.
The Immigration Authority is, through the institute of Unreliable employer, getting a tool, by which they can better control the economic migration to the Czech Republic. The Immigration Authority will be able to deny applications submitted by employees of companies which has been incorporated solely for the purpose of getting people to the Czech Republic and/or are not, for long-term, paying their dues towards the Financial Authority.
Further, the process of changing the employer, which has been troublesome in the previous version of the immigration law, is getting simplified. Newly, any employee will have a deadline of 60 days after termination of the previous employment, to file an application for the consent to change the employer - no matter what the reason for the termination was. On the other hand, should the employee fail to submit the application for the consent (or other type of Residency Permit), the Employee Card will be automatically canceled and the Employee will need to leave the Czech Republic.
Finally, the deadline for submitting the application for extension of the Employee Card has been aligned with the other Residency Permit types. The application for extension can be submitted 120 days prior to the expiry date the earliest, or on the date of the expiry the latest.
The "ICT Card", in line with the ICT Directive, has finally been implemented. The ICT Card can be issued to an employee who is employed by an employer outside the Czech Republic for at least 6 months and is being transferred to the Czech Republic as a:
The length of such assignment cannot exceed 3 years (1 year for Trainees) and the Transferee must return back to the home employer after the the end of the assignment to the Czech Republic.
The national assignment scheme - application for a non-dual Employee Card based on a Work Permit for the purpose of assignment remains valid after implementation of the ICT Card.
We see the national scheme to be advantageous from various reasons:
Processing time of 60 days instead of 90 days for the ICT Card;
No condition for previous employment at the home employer;
Assignment not limited to only 3 years.
Investment Residency Permits
To attract Foreign Investments, the Czech Republic has implemented "Investment Cards" for managers of companies which are entering the Czech Republic and:
Will open new employment positions for Czech Citizens;
Will bring significant financial investment;
Their investment will bring significant benefits to the Czech Republic.
The number of newly opened positions and the minimum amount of financial investment can be flexibly set by the Czech Government, the currently approved thresholds are at least 20 new positions and investment in the minimum amount of CZK 75 million.
Advantage of the Investment Card will is a processing time of 30 days, however, the complexity of the application process and the number of documents to be collected for filing such application seems to discourage the potential applicants to apply for the Investment Card.
Business / Entrepreneurship type of Residency Permit
The amendment is restricting Executive directors / Board members to file Employee Card applications and those will need to go through the route of the business visa / residency permit application.
Previously, Business type of residency could be filed on the Embassy of the Czech Republic, or if the applicant held a residency in the Czech Republic for at least 2 consecutive years, such application could be filed at the Immigration Authority in the Czech Republic. The 2 years condition has been changed to 5 years.
This change seems to be very problematic for those non-EU nationals holding the Employee Card and being also Executive directors / Board members as those might not be able to extend their Employee Card and will need to switch to the Business type of Residency Permit.
We are clarifying the methodology with the Ministry of the Interior and will bring a separate news on this.
Permanent Residency Permits for non-EU Nationals
Non-EU Nationals are, in vast majority of cases, eligible to get a Permanent Residency Permit in the Czech Republic after 5 years of Long-Term Residency in the Czech Republic. The previous legislation did not distinguish whether the applicant has to fulfil the condition at the time of submission of the application or at the time the Immigration Authority is making the decision about granting the Permanent Residency. It has been the practice that the Immigration Authority was evaluating the 5-years condition at the time of making the decision.
Newly, the condition is specified to be fulfilled at the time of submission of the application. Thus, applicants who have applied for Permanent Residency and have lost their residential status while waiting for the decision of the Immigration Authority are still eligible to be granted with the Permanent Residency.
The Immigration Authority will request originals of registry documents and documents confirming purpose of stay (i.e. diploma of a degree in case of Employee Card application) to be filed in all applications. Notarised copies will not be accepted.
The original will only need to be presented at the submission and returned to the applicant. A notarised copy, translated by a Czech sworn translator, will still need to be submitted along with the application and the Immigration Authority will keep the translation.
Submission of Residency Permit Applications on the Territory of the Czech Republic
According to the the Czech Immigration Law the first Visa/Residency Permit applications are supposed to be submitted on the Czech Embassy abroad by the applicant in person.
Newly, the Government has a scope to introduce programs (such as Fast-Track, Welcome Package or Project Ukraine), simplifying the conditions for obtaining the Employee Cards, Blue Cards and ICT Cards. Employers who will participate in such programs will be able to file the applications on behalf of their future Employees on the territory of the Czech Republic.
Submission of Visa/Residency Permit Applications at the Czech Embassies
Some Embassies of the Czech Republic are experiencing high demand for submission of Long-Term Visa or Residency Permit applications and due to lack of resources cannot supply the demand.
In 2015, the Czech Republic has, in some high-demand Embassies, outsourced the agenda of the Schengen (Short-Term) Visas (for further information please see our article under the following link).
This change is allowing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to outsource the agenda of submitting the long-term type residency permit application.
Unfortunately, it is not on the agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to bring this change into practice anytime soon.