Temporary protection extended by one year
In response to the war in Ukraine, the EU member states adopted a coordinated approach to refugee protection and enshrined temporary protection status in their national legislations. Under Czech regulations, temporary protection provides its holders with many benefits - the possibility of legal residence and work in the Czech Republic as well as access to health care and education. However, the scope of temporary protection is limited to 31 March 2023. The government has now submitted a bill extending its validity by one year.
The Czech Republic regulates the situation of Ukrainian refugees through three laws adopted in March of this year. Until now it has been unclear how the residence of temporary protection holders will be dealt with after 1 April 2023, as the current legislation does not allow for a transition to standard residence permits. This issue should be resolved by an amendment known as Lex Ukraine 4.
Lex Ukraine 4: two extension options
The bill provides for the extension of temporary protection until 31 March 2024 while working on two options on how the extension will be implemented. In neither case will the extension be automatic; both solutions under consideration involve the cooperation of the temporary protection holders. Under the first option, to extend the temporary protection status, the foreigner would have to register via an electronic form on the Ministry of the Interior's website by the end of March 2023. Simultaneously, the system would assign each foreigner an appointment before the end of September 2023 to appear at the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior so that a visa sticker can be reapplied.
The second option also works with an electronic form but does not require a visit to the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy to pick up a new visa sticker. Electronic registration would automatically extend the validity of temporary protection until 31 March 2024 without updating this information in the foreigner's passport. If the foreigner fails to register, the temporary protection will expire on 31 March 2023. The bill allows for the possibility of reapplying if, e.g., the deadline for registering for an extension is missed.
Impossibility of secondary migration remains
An extended temporary protection status would further preserve existing benefits such as free access to the labour market, accommodation, and ﬁnancial support. By contrast, the bill does not amend the provision that many temporary protection holders and their potential employers often worry about, which is the impossibility of secondary migration, i.e., granting temporary protection status to those who have already received it or applied for it in another EU country. This relatively strict approach compared to other countries is therefore unlikely to change.
The bill has only just entered the legislative process. It is therefore likely that it will be further modified. Given that the EU is in the process of a coordinated extension until 31 March 2024, we do not expect any significant deviation from this proposal.