Residence of foreigners after the state of emergency
During the state of emergency, the Asylum and Migration Policy Section of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in charge of the foreign nationals agenda, limited its activity to essential matters concerning the residence of foreigners. How is it operating now?
The office has not yet resumed its standard operation. An official instruction by the Ministry of Internal Affairs has set a two-month transitional period for the office, from 18 May to 16 July 2020. In this period, some changes introduced during the state of emergency will remain valid, mainly to limit the frequency of foreigners’ personal visits to the office, and to ensure the safety of both officers and clients.
The office continues to prefer remote contact, i.e. all acts where a foreigner’s personal presence is not necessary shall be made by mail or through a data box. It is currently not possible to make an appointment for acts by foreigners resident in the Czech Republic where this used to be common practice: mainly the filing of applications (e.g. for a long-term residence, permanent residence, and a temporary residence of a family member – EU citizen), reporting of changes, reporting of a loss or theft of a passport, etc. Since these acts usually carry the duty to appear in person and submit originals of passport or registry documents, this rule had to be modified: the condition to appear in person has been suspended, and the originals of documents only have to be submitted for inspection once the application has been granted - when biometric data from the applicant is collected or residency permits are picked up.
Foreign nationals may visit the office in person no earlier than on the 15th day after their arrival in the Czech Republic. Acts that the foreigners would otherwise have to undertake earlier under the law will not be deemed missed. Personal visits must be by appointment; only a few defined matters may be arranged without an appointment.
Another important change is a more tolerant approach as regards the deadlines for filing applications and submitting documents. The state of emergency is being viewed as an impediment independent of the foreigner’s will, therefore if, during the state of emergency, an application for granting or extending a residency permit had not been filed within the statutory deadline, it should still be accepted; the office has also been more lenient as regards the timely meeting of reporting duties. If applications are filed late after the end of the state of emergency, the applicant must state a relevant reason for such a delay and upon request support it adequately.
The office is also more accommodating to foreigners as regards the now longer-than-usual deadlines for removing deficiencies in applications; this change reflects the foreigners’ more difficult access to state authorities and institutions to obtain the required documents. Should they be unable to produce a required document within a deadline, foreigners may also still apply for an extension prior to the deadline’s expiration.