Special Act on Assistance to Ukrainian refugees – the main postulates

Special Act on Assistance to Ukrainian refugees – the main postulates
Joanna Kegler

Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law

On 7th March 2022 the Parliament has received a bill prepared by the Council of Ministers concerning help for Ukraine’s citizens as a result of the armed conflict in their country. What changes regarding help for Ukrainian refugees are proposed in the special act?

According to the authors of the bill, its objective is to create special regulations to provide ad hoc legal basis allowing for legal residence of Ukraine’s citizens who, as a result of hostilities, were forced to leave their country of origin and entered the territory of the Republic of Poland, while having the necessary entry permission.

Consequently, the special act constitutes an attempt to answer the problems that occurred in the sphere of securing the legality of their stay. Bellow you will find an overview of the most important assumptions of the bill.

To whom is the Special Act addressed?

The Act is aimed at Ukrainian citizens who entered the territory of the Republic of Poland directly from Ukraine as a result of the military undertakings on the territory of their country of origin. The special act also applies to the Ukrainians who are in the possession of a Pole’s Card and have arrived to Poland together with their families due to the warfare. It will also cover children born on the territory of the Republic of Poland by a mother who meets one of the abovementioned requirements.

Article 2,  Paragraph 2 of the bill excludes, however, the assistance for those holding the permanent residence permit, long-term EU resident’s residence permit, temporary residence permit, refugee status and those benefiting from subsidiary protection with tolerated stay permit, as well as those who applied in Poland for international protection.

Terms for legal residence of Ukrainian citizens

Residence on the territory of  Poland will be legalised if an Ukrainian citizen meets simultaneously three of the following conditions:

  1. entered the territory of the Republic of Poland directly from Ukraine as a result of the military undertakings on the territory of the country of origin,
  2. the entry took place between 24th February 2022 and the date indicated in the regulation of the Council of Ministers (at this time, we do not know the exact date due to the lack of the bill legislation on this matter),
  3. declares intention to remain on the territory of the Republic of Poland.

The legality of residence of an Ukrainian citizen who fulfills the abovemetioned conditions is temporary and is to last for 18 months, starting from 24th February 2022. During this period of time, the people whose residency will be deemed as legal under specified conditions, will be assigned a PESEL number.

It is predicted that together with assigning a PESEL number Ukrainian citizens will be able to obtain a ‘Trusted Profile’ in order to facilitate access to public services available online. An authority of the municipality who will receive such application shall confirm the identity of an Ukrainian citizen based on a valid travel document, the Pole’s Card or another document with a photo that will enable confirming the identity. In case of persons under 18, a birth certificate may also be of use. If the refugee does not have a valid document, the identity may be confirmed even on the basis of invalidated documents if they allow to identify the person. In case of a complete lack of available documents, a declaration or statement shall be sufficient.

Within the period of 18 months an Ukrainian citizen cannot leave Poland for longer than one month under the pain of losing legal residence permit on the territory of Poland assigned on the basis of bill regulations.

According to its authors, the act is intended to regulate the following subjects:

1. Specific rules of the labour market for Ukrainian citizens who reside legally in the Republic of Poland

The fundamental principle constitutes the permission for Ukrainians to work in Poland as long as:

  1. the Ukraine’s citizen resides legally on the territory of Poland, or the residence is deemed as legal in accordance with the provisions of the special act,
  2. within the period of 7 days from starting a job by an Ukrainian citizen, the entity which commissions work informs a District Employment Office, competent for the registered office or the place of residence of the entity, about offering a job to this citizen.

What is also important, a Ukraine’s citizen may also register as an unemployed or a job-seeking person.

2. The assistance for Ukrainians provided by voivodes, local government units and other entities

The assistance offered by voivodes and their administration may in particular consist of providing accommodation, food, transport  to the place of accommodation,  as well as financial support regarding traveling via public transport.

Any other entity (including natural persons) that will provide accommodation and food for Ukrainians may count on receiving cash benefits on the basis of the contract signed with municipality, for a period no longer than 60 days. The rules relating to payment of benefits will be specified in a separate regulation.

3. Establishing of the Assistance Fund

Furthermore, the Special Act aims to establish an assistance fund with the objective to provide financing or co-financing of actions performed in favour of helping Ukraine’s citizens.

4. Rights of the Ukrainian citizens

The Ukrainians whose residence on the territory of the Republic of Poland is considered legal will acquire, among others, the rights to benefits such as:

  1. family allowance,
  2. childcare benefit,
  3. ‘Good Start’ program,
  4. family care fund,
  5. the possibility of receiving funding for reducing the parent’s fee for a child’s stay in a nursery, children’s club or under the supervision of a childminder,
  6. the right to use other cash and non-cash benefits in compliance with the principles and under the law on Social Assistance,
  7. the right to receive one-off cash benefit of 300 PLN per person, provided for in Article 28 of the bill,
  8. free access to psychological aid,
  9. food assistance,
  10. access to publicly funded healthcare.

5. Specified rules for extending the period of legal residence of Ukraine’s citizens and for extending validity of the documents issued for them by the Polish authorities

The Special Act provides for changes regarding regulations of entry and residence on the territory of the Republic of Poland:

  • A Ukrainian citizen residing in Poland, may apply for a temporary stay permit that shall be granted once for a period of 3 years, starting from the moment of issuing a decision. The application should be submitted only after a nine-month period from the date of entry and no later than 18 months after the 24th February 2022. A Ukrainian citizen who received a temporary residence permit may perform work in Poland without the need for obtaining a work permit.
  • Should the last day of the residence period on the territory of Republic of Poland on the basis of national visa or Schengen visa fall on a period of time after 24th February 2022, the period of stay based on this visa shall be prolonged by virtue of the law up to 31st December 2022.
  • Should the last day of the validity of a temporary stay permit granted for a Ukraine’s citizen fall on a period of time after 24th February 2022, its validity shall be extended by virtue of the law until 31 December 2022.
  • If the expiry date of  residence cards, Polish identity documents, and ‘tolerated stay’ documents issued for Ukraine’s citizens fall on a period of time following 24th February 2022, their validity should be extended by virtue of the law until 31 December 2022.

6. Some rights of Polish citizens and of students, university teachers and scholars of Ukrainian nationality who enter Poland from the territory of Ukraine

Ukrainian citizens who stay legally on the territory of Poland may continue further education in their selected filed of studies as well as work as academic teachers if they have the required relevant qualifications.

7. Specified regulations regarding education, nurturing and care for children and students who are Ukrainian citizens (including the assistance of local government units in the implementation of additional educational tasks in this respect)

The special act stipulates that new locations adapted for delivering educational, pedagogical, and nurturing activities and organizationally subordinate to schools or kindergartens, may be established in order to provide education and upbringing for the children and students of Ukrainian origin.

With regard to respecting broadly-defined best interests of a child, new solutions involving a ‘Temporary Guardian’ have been introduced.

The role of a temporary guardian is to represent and hold custody over a minor Ukrainian citizen as well as to be in charge of his or her property. In view of the need for efficiency of the procedures, the possibility to summon an applicant for correcting formal defects of the application during court proceedings will be disabled. In such case, the court shall be obliged to act ex officio.

The urgency of such cases shall determine the immediate actions of the court, including examination of the case and issuing a final decision within 3 days from the date of receipt of the application or, from the moment of receiving an information about the need for establishing a temporary guardianship.

In order to provide a minor with a sense of security, and guided by the best interests of a child, the court  shall first determine whether a relative, an in-law, or other person who expressed the willingness and guarantees proper fulfilling of the guardian’s duties may perform the function of a temporary guardian. Only if there are no such persons, a temporary guardianship may be established based on the indication of a social assistance unit competent for the place of minor’s residence.

8. Specified principles for the organization and functioning of universities in view of providing higher education for Ukraine’s citizens

In academic year 2021/2022 a university may implement changes in the resolution concerning the conditions, procedure and date of starting and completing the admission procedure for candidates for the studies beginning in a winter semester of academic year 2021/2022 and in academic year 2022/2023.

Moreover, rector may change the organization of academic year 2021/2022 that is defined in the internal regulations of a university. In academic year 2021/2022 the classes within full-time and part-time studies may be conducted as combined together in order to enable undertaking of studies for the people who on the 24th of February 2022 attended universities on the territory of Ukraine.

9. Specified rules concerning conducting business activities by Ukrainian citizens who reside legally on the territory of the Republic of Poland

The Ukrainians whose residence on the territory of the Republic of Poland is considered legal may take up and conduct business activities under the same conditions as Polish citizens. The only condition is to obtain a PESEL number first.

10. Specified regulations for doctors and dentists

The special act stipulates also that, within a time period limited by statute (18 months starting from 24th February 2022), a Ukrainian citizen who acquired qualifications of a doctor or dentist outside the territory of the Member States of the European Union may be granted the right to practice the profession ,or a conditional right to practice the profession of doctor or dentist.  An equivalent solution also applies for nurses and midwives.

The authors of the bill assume that the Act will enter into force on the day of its publication but with the effect from 24th February 2022. The exceptions include regulations regarding changes in consular law that will enter into force on a day following the Act’s publication, and those referring to the act of 27th January 2022 concerning passport documents, which will take effect on 27th March 2022.

Currently, we are waiting for the Senate’s operations. Primarily, the solutions regarding the extension of the validity of residence permission for Ukrainian citizens, and those concerning financial assistance will be crucial. We will continue to monitor the status of the Act and inform you about the most significant changes in the bill.

Featured expert

Joanna Kegler

Senior associate / Attorney-at-law
Accounting