New immigration law brings wide-ranging changes

18 Dec 15

CZECH REPUBLIC

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? A wide-ranging law that takes effect Dec. 18 makes significant changes to business immigration in the Czech Republic, including imposing a new deadline for filing Employee Card renewals, expanding the class of people eligible for dependent status, lengthening the validity period of long-term visas and requiring greater detail when calculating the five years of continuous stay required for permanent residence.

What does the change mean? Employee Card renewals must be filed no later than 30 days (rather than 14 days under previous rules) before the expiration date of a valid card. Employees and non-EU nationals should also be sure to familiarize themselves with new rules on dependents, long-term visa validity and permanent residence.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employee Cards, residence permits for family members and long-term visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers, non-EU nationals and their families.
  • Business impact: The law is a mixed bag, with some provisions beneficial to business interests (e.g., the expansion of those eligible for dependent status and longer visa validity periods) and others detrimental to business interests (e.g., a longer period for dependents to qualify for free access to the Czech labor market).

Background: The law, signed by President Miloš Zeman on Nov. 24, is called the Amendment to the Act on Asylum in the Czech Republic, but it affects business immigration as well as asylum law. Among key provisions:

  • Employee Card renewals will be accepted no earlier than 120 days and no later than 30 days before a valid Employee Card’s expiration date. Previously, renewals were accepted no earlier than 90 days and no later than 14 days from the expiration date.
  • The class of non-EU nationals eligible for EU dependent status will be expanded to include children and other descendants, ages 20 or younger, of EU nationals and parents and other ascendants who are either personally or financially reliant on an EU national for their care.
  • Long-term visas will be valid for one year instead of six months. While this is good news for students and some other long-term visa holders, the downside is that dependents of non-EU nationals will be required to spend a full year, rather than six months, on a long-term visa before they can obtain long-term residency and free access to the Czech labor market.
  • Non-EU nationals applying for permanent residence based on a requisite five years of continuous stay in the Czech Republic will not be able to count certain time toward the five-year requirement. Time spent outside the Czech Republic on business exceeding 10 consecutive months or totaling 560 days cannot be counted. Additionally, time worked in the Czech Republic on a foreign payroll, rather than on a Czech contract, will not be counted toward the five-year requirement.

Other provisions of the law establish new procedures for children traveling without parents, impose stricter rules for non-married partners hoping to qualify as dependents, provide for greater financial data collection by Czech authorities and allow immigration authorities to cancel residency permits for residents convicted of certain crimes.

BAL Analysis: Employers should note the many substantive changes, as well as the important procedural change that sets an earlier deadline for filing to renew Employee Cards. Renewal applications submitted after the new deadline will automatically be rejected. Contact your BAL attorney with questions about any of the law’s provisions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Czech Republic. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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