Brexit from a Czech immigration law perspective
With the last day of January, the never-ending story of Brexit finally ended. The law implementing the withdrawal agreement was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland early this year and signed by Queen Elisabeth II. The withdrawal agreement was then approved by the members of the European Parliament. After a long period of uncertainty, negotiations and delays, the European Union has one less member. What will the post-Brexit time be like under Czech immigration law, and what should UK nationals prepare for?
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union followed the ‘soft Brexit’ scenario – with a deal. At the moment of the withdrawal, a transition period started to run, to end on 31 December 2020, with the possibility of an up-to-two-year extension. During the transition, not much will change: UK nationals will continue to be viewed as EU citizens; hence, they may continue to reside and work in the Czech Republic without the need to apply for any residence or work permits, as is the case for citizens of countries that are not members of the EU (third countries).
Unless the transition period is extended, with the beginning of 2021, UK nationals will become third-country citizens from the viewpoint of Czech immigration law and will no longer enjoy the benefits of free movement and access to job market within the EU. Therefore, if they wish to stay in the Czech Republic, they will have to adjust their residency status no later than on the last day of the transition period.
This can be done at any branch of the Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs, at the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy. To apply, it is necessary to appear in person, with all necessary documents, ideally on an agreed-upon day and time. There is a wide range of residence permits available to third-country citizens, and it is important to choose the one that best corresponds to the purpose of an individual’s stay in the Czech Republic. UK nationals currently not holding a certificate of temporary or permanent residence and not planning to reside in Czech territory after the end of the transition period will not have to apply for any residence permit.
The Lex Brexit, meaning the law whereby the Czech Republic was preparing for a ‘hard Brexit’, i.e. a withdrawal with no deal, will not enter into effect at all. What will change upon the elapse of the transition period, is the decree regulating the jurisdiction of embassies that accept applications for Czech residence permits: while third-country nationals have to apply at an embassy in the country where they are citizens (or the country that issued their travel document or where they have a permanent residence), UK nationals will be given the option to apply at any embassy of the Czech Republic.
Although no major changes to Czech immigration laws have resulted from Brexit, we recommend not leaving things to the last minute and using the transition period to prepare for when UK nationals will no longer enjoy the benefits of residence and free access to the job market. Most importantly, this means choosing a suitable residence permit, possibly also a work visa, and preparing the documents necessary for the respective application.