Planned changes to Act on Residence of Foreign Nationals for 2021
The government has proposed changes to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals as part of an amendment responding to a new bill on identity cards deriving from a new EU regulation on strengthening the security of identity cards of EU citizens and of residence documents issued to EU citizens and their family members through the integration of biometric data in identity cards (Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council 2019/1157).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government was forced to change its legislative work plans for 2020 and mainly dealt with emergency measures. The proposed amendment to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals in the CR has thus so far been neglected. However, the planned changes are important and definitely deserving of attention. As in the case of most recent amendments, this amendment again involves an adaptation of the Czech laws to EU regulations.
The amendment is now at the very beginning of the legislative process; it is expected to become effective from summer 2021. Some of the changes proposed have earned a lot of criticism. The question therefore arises of how much the final wording will differ from the draft currently proposed.
The draft especially clarifies the range of persons that will be regarded as EU citizens’ family members and determines requirements on documents that will newly be issued to EU citizens and their family members. Unlike the terminology used by other EU countries, the definition of a family member in Czech law does not differentiate between the family members of migrating EU citizens, and those of non-migrating Czech citizens. The wording of the law would thus be clarified to regard foreign relatives of Czech citizens as family members of EU citizens when they accompany these citizens back to the Czech Republic after a common long-term residence in another EU member state or when providing services in another member state. Simultaneously, a new category of ‘other’ family members of EU citizens would be introduced, applicable, e.g., to persons in partnerships. These proposals significantly alter the concept of EU citizens’ family members defined in the law for many years.
The need to clarify the range of such persons is also associated with preparations for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will rely on the uniform definition of a family member within the EU when dealing with applications for granting travel permits.
The law should also respond to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the EU. This will mostly involve legislative and technical changes, in particular regarding documents – biometric identity cards that will be issued to UK nationals and their family members.
EU citizens should no longer be granted confirmations of temporary residence; these should be replaced by registration certificates. The ten-year validity should remain in application. EU citizens’ family members will receive residence cards, i.e. biometric identity cards. Similar changes should be made to documents certifying permanent residence. Holders of existing residence permits for EU citizens and Great Britain will have to replace their permits with biometric identity cards. However, it is not certain yet when exactly and on what conditions this will take place.