Amendment to Foreigners’ Residence Act not passed by Senate
In mid-June, the Chamber of Deputies approved the long-awaited bill to amend the Foreigners’ Residence Act and passed it on to the Senate. On 1 July, the Senate rejected the amendment. Below, we present the changes that the amendment was intended to bring, and the controversial issues that made the Senate reject it.
An immediately visible and significant change concerns Brexit, and the adaptation of the withdrawal agreement into Czech law. The law now reflects the principles and rules enshrined in the agreement: among other things, the amendment regulates the status of UK nationals who legally resided in the Czech Republic during the transitional period and whose stay continues after its end. The law also addresses the status of their family members, and the documents to be issued to UK nationals and their family members.
Perhaps the biggest and most complex change concerns family members. The definition of a family member of an EU or Czech citizen has changed and is now more specific in its individual categories and gives less space to unclarity in the interpretation of the law. At the same time, the amendment introduces a completely new definition of family members of UK nationals, defining the conditions for obtaining the status of beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement.
The third major change previously announced is the replacement of current residence permits for UK nationals and their family members with biometric cards. We expect the Ministry of Internal Affairs in charge of this agenda to publish more details. The original bill of 2020 also envisaged this replacement for other EU citizens and their family members, however, the current wording only covers UK nationals.
EU citizens and their family members will also be affected, as their existing documents will remain valid, but newly issued temporary residence certificates will now be called registration certificates. We expect that the existing application form will be modified accordingly. Nonetheless, apart from the name change, no other significant changes are expected.
The amendment also brings a few minor changes. For instance, in the application for a temporary residence permit for a family member of an EU citizen who is not a direct family member, it will be necessary to provide a certificate of sufficient income.
The amendment’s wording, while approved by the Chamber of Deputies, was subsequently rejected by the Senate. The main reason was the controversial regulation governing the compulsory insurance of foreigners with the General Health Insurance Company (Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna - VZP). The regulation had been criticised not only by the senators, but also by the Ministry of Health, the Chamber of Commerce and the Office for the Protection of Competition.
The amendment thus now returns to the Chamber of Deputies. Its approval will require a simple majority of all deputies. We will follow the future fate of the amendment and hopefully will be able to present to you its final wording in one of the future issues of the Tax and Legal Update.