The Polish so-called “anti-crisis shield” proposal assumes changes in a number of legislative acts, including the provisions governing the stay of foreigners on the territory of Poland. Among other things, these changes are necessary because of the limited activities of the authorities responsible for receiving and processing applications for residence permits as well as restrictions in cross-border traffic.
Among other changes, the proposal assumes an amendment to the Act on Foreigners as regards the deadline for submitting applications for residence permits.
If this deadline falls within the period of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic announced in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection, it will be extended to the 30th day following the date of revocation of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic respectively.
This amendment applies to applications for the following permits:
- Permanent and temporary residence permits (all types);
- Long-term EU residence permits.
In accordance with the current wording of the Act on Foreigners, applicants for residence permits are obliged to submit the application in person, not later than on the last day of their legal stay in Poland. One of the reasons why applicants are obligated to appear before the authorities in person is the necessity of taking their fingerprints.
If the foreigner fails to appear in person, the competent provincial governor issues a formal request for the foreigner to appear in person within a period not shorter than 7 days – in the case of failure to appear, the application remains unprocessed.
Once this requirement is fulfilled, a stamp is placed in the foreigner’s travel document (usually a passport), which confirms the submission of the aforementioned application. Thus, from the moment of submission until the date of receiving the decision in the case, the foreigner’s stay in Poland is considered legal.
Due to the introduction in Poland first of the state of epidemic threat and then of the state of epidemic, provincial administration offices have limited or suspended receiving customers and post offices have significantly limited the range of customer services. This causes a situation where timely completion of formalities necessary to submit an application has become very difficult, to say the least.
The proposed provisions of the “anti-crisis shield” assume that a foreigner’s stay in Poland will be considered legal during the extended period for submitting an application, provided that such foreigner meets the abovementioned requirements, i.e. submits an appropriate application within 30 days after revocation of the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic. In practice, this will mean an automatic conditional extension of the legality of the stay of foreigners in Poland based on various residence permits, based on visas whose validity expires during the state of epidemic threat or the state of epidemic, as well as exhaustion of the maximum number of days that foreigners not requiring a visa can stay in Poland.
At the same time, if the proposal is adopted, once the state of epidemic is revoked, one can expect increased traffic in offices which have already been significantly overloaded as well as an accumulation of applications in migration matters. For this reason, it is recommended to prepare appropriate documentation as soon as possible and not wait until the end of the extended deadline.