Amendment to Lex Ukraine tightens conditions for temporary protection
Already during the adoption of the original wording of Lex Ukraine it became obvious that an amendment would soon be necessary. This amendment has been published three months after the original law's effective date and the changes it contains will mainly affect the rules for the provision of humanitarian allowances, the procedure for granting temporary protection, the accommodation of temporary protection holders, and the possibility for the government to regulate the acceptance of applications for residence permits for citizens of Russia and Belarus outside the state of emergency.
The amendment expands the grounds for not granting or withdrawing temporary protection status in the Czech Republic. Apart from previous applications for temporary protection in another EU member state, applications for international protection have now also become an obstacle. Temporary protection in the Czech Republic also automatically ceases if a foreign national submits a similar application in another EU member state. The amendment also excludes applications for temporary protection if a refugee holds the citizenship of another EU state in addition to Ukrainian citizenship. It also introduces a 60-day time limit for processing particularly complex applications that cannot be processed immediately upon application submission.
New rules for accommodation
Other changes concern accommodation. If the foreigner has not been automatically granted accommodation, they must provide a certificate of accommodation with their application in accordance with the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals. This document does not have to include a certified signature of the owner or authorised representative. If the temporary protection holder changes the address of their residence in the Czech Republic and plans to stay at the new address for more than 15 days, they are obliged to notify the Czech Ministry of the Interior of this change within three days at the latest. The amendment also defines in detail the conditions for providing accommodation, both in the form of emergency accommodation and temporary shelter, including the provision of compensation to accommodation operators.
Tightening conditions for public insurance
The amendment also introduces changes in social and public health insurance, while also tightening the conditions for a humanitarian allowance of CZK 5,000. If a foreigner who has been granted temporary protection is provided with free accommodation, food and personal hygiene products, this allowance cannot be paid. The humanitarian allowance may be paid on a long-term basis, but for a maximum of five months, only to foreigners who reside in the Czech Republic and prove their need. Except for children and the elderly over 65 years of age, public health insurance costs are automatically covered by the state only for the first 150 days. After this period, temporary protection holders must pay for their own insurance unless they fall under one of the statutory exemptions.
Regulation of visas for Russian and Belarusian citizens
The amendment establishes the possibility for the government not to accept applications for visas or residence permits that are contrary to the foreign policy interests of the Czech Republic. Currently, the restriction applies to citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus.
Lex Ukraine will remain in force until 31 March 2023, even after the amendment. The amendment does not state what options temporary protection holders will have for staying in the Czech Republic after 1 April 2023, hence it is likely to be amended again in the coming months.