Legislation Introduces New Visa and Residence Permit Requirements, Blue Card for Highly Skilled Workers
A new Czech Republic law has made significant changes to the procedures and requirements for long-term residence permits and long-stay visas, including new personal appearance requirements, a forthcoming biometric residence permit, and more stringent housing and health insurance requirements. The legislation also introduces a Czech version of the European Union (EU) Blue Card for highly skilled foreign workers. The new law took effect on January 1, 2011.
Changes for Residence Permits Applicants
The new law requires non-European Union foreign nationals to register in person with Czech authorities within three days of arrival for stays of more than 90 days for business or work. EU nationals must also register in person for business or work stays of more than 90 days, but within 30 days of arrival. Though foreign nationals are no longer permitted to have a service provider register on their behalf, they can use a provider to wait in line to obtain a registration appointment. Foreign nationals staying in the Czech Republic for less than 90 days must register within three days, but no personal appearance is required and typically the foreign national’s hotel will arrange for the registration.
Beginning in May 2011, Czech authorities are expected to begin issuing new biometric residence permits that will include the holder’s fingerprints and a digital photograph. The new residence cards are intended to prevent unauthorized migration and facilitate police work, and are designed to comply with a 2008 EU regulation that requires member states to revise their residence permits to comply with a uniform format by May 21, 2011.
Changes for Long-Term Visa Applicants
Foreign nationals who obtain long-term visit visas (Type D visas) will be granted an initial visa validity period of six months, reduced from the one year that was issued previously. The shorter initial validity period will mean that foreign nationals who will travel abroad during a long-term stay in the Czech Republic will need to plan further in advance to ensure that they have valid documentation to reenter the country.
In addition, foreign nationals applying abroad for long-term visit (Type D) visas for business must now make a personal appearance at the Czech consular post where they submit their application. A personal appearance is not mandatory for those applying for a long-term visit (Type D) visas for work.
Once in the Czech Republic, a foreign national extending a long-stay visa for the first time must apply in person. For subsequent extensions, an in-person application is not required, but the foreign national but must make a personal appearance to collect the extended visa. Note that Czech authorities are currently taking up to 60 days to approve visa extensions; though the foreign national’s previous visa may expire while his or her application is pending, it will be deemed valid until the extension is approved.
New Health Insurance and Housing Requirements for Long-Term Residents
Foreign nationals applying for their residence permits from inside Czech Republic and those applying for a long-term visit visa from abroad are now subject to tighter requirements concerning housing and health insurance.
Residence permit and long-term visit visa applicants must now provide with their applications a notarized confirmation that they have made arrangements for housing, signed by the owner of the property or his or her authorized representative. Though foreign nationals have long been required to demonstrate that they have adequate housing when applying for a residence permit, the notarization requirement is new. The legislation also provides specific guidance on the minimum size of the foreign national’s living accommodations.
Residence permit and long-term visit visa applicants must also meet more stringent health insurance requirements. The total value of a foreign national’s health insurance policy must be a minimum of €60,000, up from €30,000. The policy must also now cover urgent or emergency care, transportation costs in the event of the foreign national’s death, and accidents resulting from negligence, willful acts, and the consumption of drugs or alcohol. As we have reported previously, foreign nationals must obtain health insurance policies from an approved provider.
EU Blue Card Introduced
The legislation also introduced a Czech version of the European Union Blue Card, a new form of work authorization for highly-skilled non-EU nationals to reside and work in any EU member state. In the Czech Republic, the Blue Card will serve as an alternative to the current work permit system for qualified foreign nationals. To qualify, a foreign national will be required to possess a high-level professional qualification and meet minimum salary requirements. The card will be valid for the duration of a foreign national’s employment contract plus three months for departure, up to a maximum of two years. The card can be extended.
The Blue Card will be issued to a foreign national only to fill a specific vacancy posted by a specific employer on the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs website for at least 30 days. While the Blue Card program opened on January 1, 2011 when the new law took effect, the 30 day posting requirement meant that foreign nationals could not begin applying for the Blue Card until January 31. However, as of January 18, no vacancies have been posted the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs website.
In preparing this article, Fragomen has worked closely with International Business Support s.r.o. The content herein is provided for informational purposes only.
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