Polish entrepreneurs in most sectors are experiencing a shortage of workforce. So far, they have been supported largely by citizens of Ukraine working temporarily in Poland. Despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, the number of vacancies in enterprises remains high. In an attempt to remedy this, the Ministry of Interior and Administration has prepared amendments to several acts regarding the provision of work by foreigners (these are the acts: on foreigners, promotion of employment and labour market institutions, and minor amendments to the Act on the Card of the Pole and repatriation). Below is a brief description of the most important changes:
1. Visas for students – reduction of the time limit for issuing Schengen visas for students from 60 to 30 days.
2. Issuance of national visas – the deadline for extending the proceedings due to the consul or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting information from the President of the Office for Foreigners as to whether there are circumstances justifying a refusal to issue a visa has been shortened from 60 to 30 days.
3. Introduction of the possibility of considering applications for visas out of turn – the Act gives the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in agreement with the Minister of Internal Affairs, the right to issue regulations allowing for considering applications from a given country out of turn. At the same time, the same regulation may specify the professions for which the issuance of visas will also be considered out of turn.
4. Temporary residence permits – the amendment introduces a deadline for the decision to be issued – within 60 days, provided all documents have been submitted and the foreigner has appeared in an office in person.
5. The Act introduces the possibility of electronic communication between a voivodship office and the authorities of the Police, Border Guard, Internal Security Agency and consular services with regard to seeking an opinion on a foreigner during the procedure for issuing a temporary residence permit.
6. The obligation to have a stable and regular source of income is abolished and replaced by a requirement that the work which is to be entrusted to a foreigner must be remunerated at least at the minimum wage.
7. The obligation to provide a place of residence is eliminated.
8. Pursuant to the new provisions of the Act, a change of the registered office or place of residence, name or legal form of the entity employing a foreigner, the takeover of an employer or a part thereof by another employer, the transfer of an establishment of work or a part thereof to another employer, the replacement of a civil law contract by an employment contract, a change of the name of the position at which the foreigner performs work while retaining the scope of his/her duties, or an increase in the working time with a proportional increase in remuneration do not require an amendment or a new temporary residence and work permit.
9. A foreigner will have the right to apply for a change of the residence and work permit if he/she intends to change the employer.
10. One of the most important issues is that all proceedings for issuing a work and residence permit that are pending at the moment of entry into force of the Act should be terminated by issuing a decision on granting a residence permit, except for situations when a foreigner is on a list of persons whose residence in the Republic of Poland is undesirable, his/her data is in the Schengen Information System for the purpose of refusing entry or it is opposed by defence reasons, security reasons, public order reasons or obligations arising from international agreements.
11. The period of work on the basis of a statement on entrusting work is extended from 6 months to 24 months.
The planned changes are likely to contribute to the acceleration of certain procedures related to obtaining work and residence permits by foreigners. It remains an open question to what extent the rigid deadlines introduced will actually be observed and implemented. The relaxation of the requirements for obtaining work and residence permits as well as the extension to 24 months of the period in which it is possible to work on the basis of a statement on the commission of work certainly deserve praise. The effect of the amendments may be to increase the influx of foreign workers, who are so necessary to the economy.