Major changes relating to the employment of foreign nationals

Schaffer News

Several changes relating to the employment and residence of foreign nationals have taken effect in recent weeks. Some of these changes are quite significant, even revolutionary. From now on, the government will apply more selective actions in respect of economically active foreign nationals – making the process easier for some of them, while creating barriers for others.

For example, a Government Regulation was adopted on 30 August 2019 that activates the so-called economic migration quotas. The activation of these quotas now falls within the powers of the Government that can define the maximum number of applications accepted during a specific month, depending on the applicant’s country of origin or profession. The quotas are then applied to employee card or long-term entrepreneurship visa applications only.

The Regulation came into effect just three days after being published in the Collection of Laws, i.e. on 1 September. While quotas for some countries more or less correspond to or even exceed the usual number of applications (e.g. Turkey with its annual limit of 600 employee card applications), quotas for other countries are set down in a manner that de facto prevents immigration from such countries for specific purposes (e.g. Vietnam, where migration for business purposes is excluded altogether).

Unlike employee card applications, Blue Card applications are not subject to the aforementioned quotas. A Blue Card represents a residence and work permit for positions that require at least three-year higher (university) or higher vocational education. It is possible that this procedure will also be applied to business visas that are subject to rather strict limits for the number of accepted applications – applicants will find jobs at positions suitable for Blue Card holders and they will be able to carry out their business activities outside the agreed working hours.

Moreover, the system of quotas also favours participants of economic migration projects. The economic migration projects allow employers, who meet specific eligibility criteria, to handle immigration issues of their employees or statutory body members more quickly. Applicants included in such projects will count toward a special quota that is often considerably higher than the general quota.

The structure of these government programs completely changes as of September. Existing economic migration programs are cancelled (Regime Ukraine and Other Countries, Ukraine and India projects, and Welcome Package and Fast Track projects), with the following projects being introduced instead:

  • Qualified Workers program for employees from Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Mongolia, the Philippines, India, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. The program only applies to the following professions:
  • Public sector officials;
  • Service and sales workers;
  • Qualified workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • Craft and related trades workers;
  • Plant and machine operators, assemblers.

 

  • Highly Qualified Workers program applies to the following CZ-ISCO classes:
  • 1 Legislators and managers
  • 2 Specialists
  • 3 Technicians and associate professionals

            One of the advantages of this program is the fact that it also applies to family members of the respective employees.

 

  • Key and Research Staff program for authorized representatives, managers, key specialists of prominent Czech and foreign investors, research organizations, technological companies, and start-ups. This program (in terms of its scope and rules) largely combines the existing “Welcome Package” and “Fast Track” programs.

 

However, other changes have also taken place – in addition to quotas for employers and employees. For example, the so-called special work visa has been introduced with a view to overcome temporary labour shortage in the Czech labour market. It will only be possible to apply for this type of visa if it is “activated” by a Government Regulation. It has been clearly introduced to address the fact that employee card / Blue Card procedure (as a primary form of employment of foreign nationals) is often perceived as too time-consuming and cumbersome.

The special work visa procedure should be significantly faster; for example, it will not be necessary to collect biometric data. The visa will be valid for up to a year and it will be necessary to leave the territory of the Czech Republic after it expires. It is thus not possible to apply for an extension or change to another purpose.

Naturally, the question is whether the procedure will actually be accelerated. The special work visa does not have the so-called dual nature as employee cards (i.e. it is not a “two for one package” of residence and work permit); moreover, a special work visa application will also have to be accompanied by a valid work permit issued by a Labour Office. At the same time, Labour Offices have 30 days to issue the aforementioned permit.

Employers should also note the following partial changes:

  • Procedure for required approvals of employer changes and requirements for associated applications have been revised;
  • Foreign nationals will only be entitled to change employers after 6 months from the moment their employee cards are issued;
  • Employee card administrative fee (newly amounting to CZK 5,000) is now payable at the moment an application is lodged at an embassy or consulate.

 

For your information, please find attached a table with quotas in force as of 1 September 2019:

 

Maximum number of visa applications for a stay of over 90 days for business purposes

Embassy / Consulate

Maximum number of applications that may be submitted in the course of 1 year

Key and Research Staff Program

Abuja

12

4

Addis Ababa

12

4

Accra

12

4

Algiers

12

4

Amman

12

4

Ankara

12

6

Baghdad

0

0

Baku

12

4

Beirut

12

4

Belgrade

100

10

Damascus

0

0

Delhi

24

12

Erbil

0

0

Hanoi

0

0

Islamabad

0

0

Istanbul

12

6

Yekaterinburg

50

25

Kabul

0

0

Cairo

12

4

Kishinev

12

4

Kiev

24

12

Lusaka

12

4

Lvov

24

12

Minsk

24

8

Moscow

100

50

Nairobi

12

4

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

12

4

Pyongyang

0

0

Pretoria

12

4

Rabat

12

4

Saint Petersburg

50

25

Sarajevo

12

4

Skopje

12

4

Tashkent

12

4

Tbilisi

12

4

Tehran

12

4

Tunis

12

4

Ulaanbaatar

12

4

 

Maximum number of employee card applications

1

2

3

4

Embassy / Consulate

Maximum number of applications that may be submitted in the course of 1 year

Highly Qualified Workers Program or Key and Research Staff Program

Qualified Workers Program

Abuja

60

30

0

Addis Ababa

60

30

0

Accra

60

30

0

Algiers

60

30

0

Amman

60

30

0

Ankara

300

100

0

Baghdad

30

30

0

Baku

200

50

0

Bangkok

250

30

0

Beirut

60

30

0

Belgrade

3,000

100

2,500

Damascus

30

30

0

Delhi

1,200

500

600

Erbil

30

30

0

Hanoi

200

200

0

Islamabad

30

30

0

Istanbul

300

100

0

Jakarta

100

30

0

Yerevan

200

50

0

Kabul

30

30

0

Cairo

60

30

0

Kishinev

800

100

600

Kiev

1,600

500

1,100

Lusaka

60

30

0

Lvov

40,720

0

40,000

Manila

1,200

100

1,000

Minsk

1,000

100

800

Nairobi

60

30

0

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

380

30

300

Pyongyang

0

0

0

Pretoria

100

70

0

Rabat

60

30

0

Sarajevo

500

50

0

Skopje

200

30

0

Tashkent

100

30

0

Tbilisi

300

30

0

Teheran

60

30

0

Tunis

60

30

0

Ulaanbaatar

1,200

30

1,000