Blue Card, Employee Card, Employment, Visa

“Foreigners from nine countries will not need work permits in the Czech Republic” – MISLEADING and INCORRECT

“Articles presenting the change in the Labour Code and the new government regulation as something that will fundamentally affect and change the labour market in the Czech Republic serve mainly as clickbaits, i.e. to bring as many readers as possible to the website. In reality, it is not so hot,” says Jan Kalina, co-owner of Move To Prague relocation services s.r.o., a company that deals with the employment of foreigners in the Czech Republic and which also runs the website.

So what exactly is changing and what benefits do the approved changes bring to foreigners or HR managers in companies? The answer to this question, including specific cases, can be found in the article below.

What does the amendment to the Employment Act/Government Regulation definitely not bring?

Before we get into what exactly the current changes bring, let’s talk about what they don’t bring.

“Although sentences like “Foreigners from nine countries will not need work permits or employment cards to work in the Czech Republic from July” make it sound like a Brit, an American or an Israeli will be able to come here without restrictions and start working immediately, this is definitely not the case. The change in the Employment Act only changes the possibility to work in the Czech Republic, not the possibility to stay in the Czech Republic,” Kalina said.

The possibility for foreigners from third countries (outside the EU) to reside in the Czech Republic is regulated by the Act on the Residence of Foreigners in the Czech Republic. Nothing has changed in this respect. That is, foreigners from the above-mentioned countries can stay in the Czech Republic without a visa for a maximum of 90 days (and only as tourists); if they want to stay in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days, they must continue to apply for a long-term visa or a long-term residence permit.

So what is changing for these nine nationalities?

Simply put, two things are currently being addressed:

  1. Changes to the Labour Code, more specifically the part of the Act that determines who is free to enter the Czech labour market (more on this here). In addition to permanent residence permit holders or students, this list will now also include citizens of states established by special government regulation.
  2. The government decree that determines which nationalities will have free access to the labour market according to the provisions of the amended Employment Act. At present, these include citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA and the UK.

The fact that the nationalities in question will not be listed directly in the Employment Act but in a separate government regulation gives the government the flexibility to subtract or add nationalities covered by this exemption at any time.

How is the employment of foreign nationals currently conducted?

In order to properly explain exactly what is changing, let’s take a brief look at how the employment of non-EU foreigners is done now.

It is important to divide foreigners into those who are not yet long-term residents of the Czech Republic and those who already have a valid long-term visa or residence permit.

Employment of foreigners who are not yet in the Czech Republic

If a Czech company currently wants to employ, say, an American or an Israeli who is not yet resident in the Czech Republic, the first step is to post the vacancy on the Labour Office. This triggers a so-called labour market test, where EU citizens (including Czech citizens) have the opportunity to apply for the position and the employer should prefer them over non-EU citizens.

The labour market test lasts 10 or 30 days depending on the difficulty of the position (more skilled positions wait only 10 days, less skilled positions 30 days).

Once the labour market test is passed, the position is “open” to non-EU nationals.

The foreigner then uses the vacancy number to apply for an employment card or blue card.

“In this case, the amendment to the Employment Act basically removes the need for this labour market test and should theoretically speed up the entire process by 10 or 30 days. In practice, of course, a foreigner does not just wait for the labour market test to be completed in order to apply for an employment or blue card. For example, he or she needs to obtain an extract from the register from the country of origin, have it apostilled and translated into Czech, find accommodation in the Czech Republic, obtain a work contract from the future employer, arrange a date to apply at the Czech embassy, etc. In most cases these tasks take much longer than 30 days. In practice, therefore, this change will not bring any simplification or speeding up of the process”, Kalina explains.

Companies will no longer need to post a vacancy on the Labour Office, which saves an experienced HR person around 20 minutes. Certainly a step in the right direction, but nothing that would fundamentally affect the situation on the Czech labour market.

Employment of foreigners already legally residing in the Czech Republic

For foreigners who are already legally residing in the Czech Republic (on the basis of a long-term visa or long-term residence permit), the change in the law may be more beneficial. On the other hand, it may put both foreigners and companies in complicated situations.

Let us now look at the different categories of foreigners already residing in the Czech Republic and what will change or not change for them in specific cases.

Students of accredited universities
According to the Employment Act, students of accredited universities already have free access to the labour market, so nothing will change for them. Neither does it for employers. If you want to hire a foreigner who is studying an accredited field of study in the Czech Republic, you can do so both now and after the amendment to the law.

Students of non-accredited fields of study
This is probably the most significant change for this group, although this group is also probably the smallest of all. Until now, students in non-accredited courses have been at a disadvantage in the labour market compared to ‘standard’ students. Although they also studied, went to school and passed exams, they could not work, could not support themselves and therefore had to live either on savings or on the help of their parents or their businesses. This is now changing and even students in non-accredited courses will be able to work while studying.

Family members with a long-term visa
A fairly classic situation – the main applicant obtains some type of long-term visa or long-term residence (e.g. an employment card) and brings their spouse with them for family/cohabitation purposes. Before the change in the law, these foreigners could not work. This is now changing for a select nine nationalities. Spouses will therefore gain free access to the Czech labour market faster, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

Family members with long-term residence permit
Situation similar to above, except that the spouse does not have a long-term visa for family/family reunification purposes, but a long-term residence for the same purpose. Typically, the long-term residence for family reunification is linked to the long-term visa for family reunification. However, in certain cases, it is possible to apply for a long-term stay directly, without having to apply for a long-term visa first.

There is no change in the situation of foreigners with this type of residence; they already had free access to the labour market before the amendment to the Employment Act.

Entrepreneurs, self-employed persons, English teachers
In this case, the change in the Employment Act may put foreigners themselves and their employers in big trouble. If a foreigner is staying here on the basis of a long-term visa or residence permit for the purpose of business (typically English teachers), they will get the opportunity to be employed with the amendment to the law, but this is certainly not something we would recommend.

This is where the Labor Code and the Aliens Residence Act go against each other. The Foreigners’ Residence Act states that the foreigner must fulfil the purpose of stay as set out in the visa or residence permit while in the Czech Republic. Therefore, although an entrepreneur will be able to accept a job offer and, according to the Employment Act, start working without a trade, this may be a problem for the extension of his visa or residence.

The purpose of the residence for such a foreigner is business and the foreigner must earn enough money on a monthly basis through business. If you employ such a foreigner, although he/she will be working legally under the Employment Act, the MVČR will probably not extend his/her visa or residence permit because he/she will not fulfill the purpose and conditions of residence according to the Aliens’ Residence Act (he/she has a visa as an entrepreneur but is not running a business, he/she is employed).

In this case, the best solution is to change the purpose of stay and switch from business to an employee card.

Applicants for change of purpose of residence
The above case of entrepreneurs brings us to the general topic of change of purpose of residence. The example of a Canadian citizen legally residing here as a student but no longer wants to study, he wants to be employed. Or an Australian sole trader – an English teacher gets an offer not to work as a sole trader but to become an employee. In this case, the ideal option is to change the purpose of residence and apply for an employment card.

Here too, there is virtually no major change. For companies, the need to report the vacancy to the Labour Office will disappear, and for foreigners, the whole process will theoretically be accelerated by 10 or 30 days. However, as we have described in the case of applicants for employment cards through Czech embassies, there are still many other documents to be obtained, deadlines to submit the application, etc., so in practice there will be no real acceleration. Especially because the approval process will not be accelerated by this change – it still remains at 60-90 days for the employee card and 60 days for the blue card.

But what will be simplified is the change of employer.

Employee card holders
Foreigners who are already in the Czech Republic on the basis of an employment card are currently bound by many rules if they want to change employers. From having to stay with the first employer for at least 6 months, to only being out of work for 60 days, to having to report changes at least 30 days in advance (more on the rules for changing employers here).

Once the amendment to the Employment Act comes into force, this process will be simplified to simply having to report any changes to the MVČR within three days. This gives foreigners and employers a great deal of flexibility.

Final assessment of the benefits of the change in the law and government regulation

“For 99% of foreigners living in the Czech Republic and their employers, this change does not change anything and certainly no major impact on the Czech labour market can be expected. On the other hand, we welcome any simplification of immigration processes for foreigners. It shows that foreigners are no longer just a good election issue for politicians, but that someone is really starting to think about the situation on the Czech labour market. Although this change changes practically nothing, it is a step in the right direction. Perhaps the government will evaluate the benefits of this programme and in the future expand the list of nationalities that will be able to take advantage of free entry to the labour market. This would not be possible if this programme did not exist at all. Although it goes a bit against our business (helping with complicated immigration administration for companies and foreigners themselves, editor’s note), we welcome any step that opens the labour market at least a little and simplifies the administration,” Kalina concludes.

If you have any questions about this topic or others on this website, please call and write, we will be happy to answer and advise you – we are specialists in the employment of foreigners.

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