Important changes in the provisions related to the help for Ukrainian citizens (and not only)

Important changes in the provisions related to the help for Ukrainian citizens (and not only)
Joanna Kegler

Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law

On October 21, 2022, the Government Legislation Center published on its website a draft act amending the act on the support of Ukrainian citizens in connection with an armed conflict on the territory of that country, and of certain other acts. The amendment intends to clarify and complement the existing regulations. Yet, the project concerns much more issues than just those related to supporting the Ukrainians. Paradoxically, one of the biggest changes will affect all foreigners residing in Poland. Below, you will find a brief overview of key elements of the draft.

Table of Contents

Help for Ukrainian citizens and other foreigners – the most important change

Repeal of the provisions extending the legality of stay stated in the covid special act

The draft provides for the repeal of a number of provisions. They used to introduce special arrangements regulating foreigners’ stay in Poland. These regulations were connected with the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, these provisions allow, among others, for:

  • extending the deadline for submitting applications for residence permits for foreigners,
  • extending the legality of a foreigner’s stay in Poland under certain circumstances. For example, on the basis of a Schengen visa and under the visa-free traffic.
  • extending the validity of the residence card,
  • extending the validity of national visas and temporary residence permits
  • extending the validity period of foreigners’ work permits.

Find out who apart from Ukraine’s citizens can benefit from a special safeguard procedure regarding refugees – also known as Temporary Protection Directive – by reading this article

How does the validity of a work permit for a Ukrainian citizen and other foreigners change?

The validity of these documents was extended until the 30th day after the date of cancelling the emergency state. In this case, the emergency state was the epidemic or the threat of an epidemic. The authors state that the situation was different at the time of the adoption of the special covid act. The functioning of Polish offices and air traffic was significantly suspended or limited. This triggered the need for special residence arrangements for foreigners. The idea was that people who are unable to leave Poland before the end of the legality of their stay would not fall into trouble due to illegal stay. Currently, these solutions are no longer justified. According to the authors, they cause many foreigners to continue their stay in Poland. But, they do not seek to obtain new documents allowing for their legal stay. Thus, the draft provides for revocation of such protection over the foreigners’ stay. This means that anyone who benefited from the solution will have to submit a relevant application.

Are you planning to hire citizens from Ukraine and wonder what steps to take?

Our legal advisors will be happy to help you. We will explain what elements need to be considered to ensure successful employment. With help of our experts, the hiring process will be effective and consistent with the law. We also provide Mobility & HR services, thus, you will get comprehensive help in one place.

What changes are planned in the provisions concerning the help for Ukrainian citizens?

Changes concerning the possibility of applying for temporary residence in Poland

The draft provides for the removal of art. 38 of the special act on assistance to Ukraine. So It provided for the possibility of submitting the application no earlier than 9 months after crossing the border of Poland. The authors of the draft indicate that so far, it was problematic to document that the stay of a Ukrainian citizen is legal. With the introduction of the Diia electronic document, foreigners obtained a document that is recognized in the European Union. It allows them to cross borders together with their passport. According to the authors of the draft, the need to apply for a new permit seems to be unjustified in this situation.

But what is being proposed instead? The analysed provisions provide for a special procedure for issuing temporary residence permits for 1 year. They will apply in the following situations:

  1. a citizen of Ukraine does not meet the requirements for granting a temporary residence permit due to the declared purpose of stay,
  2. or the circumstances that are the basis for applying for the permit do not justify staying in Poland for a period exceeding 3 months,
  3. or there are circumstances justifying the denial of a temporary residence permit.

The draft provides for enabling the Border Guard authorities and the Head of the Office for Foreigners to withdraw from initiating certain proceedings until August 24, 2023. This refers to the proceedings towards Ukrainian citizens that oblige them to return. The draft also allows to discontinue such proceedings if they have already begun.

Obligation to obtain a PESEL number by citizens of Ukraine

Until now, refugees from Ukraine had 90 days to register their stay in Poland. The draft removes this provision and replaces it with a new one. There will be an obligation to submit an application for a PESEL number within 30 days of their arrival. Submission of the application within this deadline will result in recognizing the stay of a Ukrainian in Poland as legal.

Electronic document available in Diia.pl application

The proposed amendment also sanctions at the statutory level the nature of the electronic document available in the Diia.pl application. It will be treated as a residence document. Together with a travel document, it will allow a Ukrainian citizen to cross the border many times without the need to obtain a visa.

Summary

The draft is already raising questions in various circles. Particularly with regard to such a rapid removal of the provisions extending the legality of the stay of all foreigners. The discussed amendment is at the stage of gathering opinions (as of 27.10.2022). Thus, some changes can still be introduced. We will keep you informed about this and other changes of the situation of Ukrainian citizens. Do you have questions after reading the article? Feel free to contact our experts.

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Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law

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