The Polish so-called “anti-crisis shield” (The Act of 31 March 2020 amending the Act on special solutions related to the prevention and eradication of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, as well as some other acts) has introduced a series of legal solutions aimed at solving the problems caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus epidemic for the legality of foreign citizens staying and working in Poland. The new regulations are in force as of 31 March 2020.
Automatic extension of work permits, statements, long-term visas and residence permits
The new regulations provide that foreign citizens whose permits or visas would, did or will expire during either the state of epidemic or state of epidemiological threat are able to continue to stay and work in Poland legally (their legal stay and work is deemed automatically extended) until 30 days after the state of epidemic or epidemiological threat (whichever is later) has ceased.
This applies specifically to foreign citizens working or staying in Poland on the basis of:
- work permits (any type, including a permit for seasonal work);
- registered statements on entrusting work to a foreign citizen (applicable to citizens of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova);
- national (type D) visas;
- temporary residence permits (all types, including residence and work permits and residence permits for foreign citizens holding higher professional qualifications);
- permanent residence permits, and
- residence permits for EU long-term residents.
The important thing is that legal work and stay of foreigners holding the above permits is extended by the Act automatically, without a need to apply for this or obtain any administrative decision, certificate, stamp in a passport or a new residence card.
Extension of deadline to apply for residence permits
The Act of 31 March 2020 also extended the deadline to apply for residence permits (all types – temporary, permanent and long-term EU residence permits).
Based on the new law, if the statutory deadline to apply for such permit (i.e. the last day of legal stay in Poland) falls within the period of the state of epidemiological threat or state of epidemic, such deadline is automatically extended to 30 days following the date of revocation of, respectively, the state of epidemiological threat or state of epidemic, whichever is later.
During the extended deadline, foreign citizens’ residence in Poland is deemed legal. In practice, this means that not only foreign citizens staying in Poland on the basis of residence permits, but also based on short-term (e.g. Schengen) visas or within visa-free movement and intending to apply for residence permits (and doing so within the extended deadline) will be able to continue to legally stay in Poland despite expiry of their basis for stay.
Administrative decisions on hold
The Act of 31 March 2020 also extended (as in other cases, up to 30 days day following the date of revocation of, respectively, the state of epidemiological threat or state of epidemic) deadlines for leaving the territory of Poland resulting from:
– art. 299 section 6 of the Act of 12 December 2013 on Foreign Citizens (i.e. the deadline to leave Poland after receiving refusal to extend a visa, grant a residence permit, etc.);
– decision requiring a foreign citizen to leave the territory of Poland (e.g. issued by the Border Guard as a result of illegal stay in Poland).
Currently, we have a state of epidemic in Poland (since 20 March 2020). This was preceded by a state of epidemiological threat that was introduced as of 14 March 2020. This means that the above solutions apply to situations that occurred in the period starting on or after 14 March 2020, and thus earlier than the date of entry of the Act into force.
What is also relevant at this stage is that the end date for the state of epidemic is not known and it is likely that a state of epidemiological threat will be announced again after the state of epidemic is lifted.