The Act on the Residence of Foreigners in the Czech Republic, stipulating the conditions for the residence and employment of foreigners, has proven to be obsolete as it does not sufficiently reflect mainly the requirements of the international mobility of workers. The EU has adopted several new directives, most importantly the new blue card directive. To implement them, the Czech government has approved an amendment with several significant changes. The amendment has now been submitted to parliament.
The most significant changes will affect the EU blue cards, which serve as combined residence and work permits for highly qualified employees. The EU’s objective is to make the blue cards more attractive by strengthening the rights of their holders and simplifying their mobility within the EU. The amendment extends the definition of high qualification by making it possible to prove high qualification also by submitting proof of professional experience. An EU blue card will be issued for up to 3 years and its validity can be prolonged repeatedly. Foreigners who have held a blue card issued by another member state for more than 2 years will not be obliged to attach a qualification certificate to the application. For holders of blue cards, changes in employment will no longer be subject to prior approval by the Czech Ministry of the Interior. Instead, blue card holders will only be obliged to notify the ministry of a change in their employer or work position within 3 working days. Asylum seekers and subsidiary protection status holders will also be allowed to apply for this permit.
On the other hand, the draft amendment also tightens some rules – the validity of the EU blue card will be cancelled if its holder has been unemployed for more than 3 months (where the foreigner has held the EU blue card for less than two years) or 6 months, while the draft amendment stipulates several exceptions. It is necessary to note that the unemployment periods will be cumulated. An EU blue card will also become invalid should the authorities find out that the employee did not report a change in their employment within the statutory period or if their employer fails to meet the condition of being debt-free.
Changing conditions for relocation of families with adult children and for submission of criminal register extracts
The new wording of the Foreigners’ Residence Act will not please families planning to relocate to the Czech Republic with children that are of age but still dependent on their parents. The current legal regulation lets such adult children apply for a long-term residence permit intended to reunify families. The new amendment should cancel this option, and children of age will thus have to apply for a residence permit with a different purpose and meet the conditions for its issue.
The amendment also changes the rules for submitting extracts from the criminal registers of a foreigner’s previous country of residence. Under the current regulation, extracts from the criminal register were often just a facultative part of an application for visa and residence permit and the authorities could request it additionally in course of the proceedings. However, in practice it was necessary to submit the extract for almost every application. Reflecting this, the amendment thus introduces the obligation to submit a criminal extract with every application Exceptions to this obligation may be determined by the embassy where the foreigner submits the application - in particular in cases where the country in question does not issue this document.
A positive change is the extension of the period within which foreigners with an entry visa are obliged to come to the Ministry of the Interior for biometric data collection required for the purpose of issuing a residence permit from 3 days to 30 days from the date of arriving in the Czech Republic.
The amendment is very extensive, with changes affecting, e.g., asylum, the status of stateless persons, applications for permanent residence as well as departure orders. The draft amendment has been submitted for consideration to the chamber of deputies, and its final wording may change as it will be debated by the deputies.