Should you apply for an extension of your long-term visa or for a long-term residence permit? It may sound as the same thing but it can not be further from truth! Long-term visa extension and long-term residence permit application are two completely different processes which require different sets of documents. Let us explain everything on one of the most common visa types – business visa/freelance visa/zivno visa – simply the long-term visa with the purpose of business.
(If you are looking for information on how to get the initial (first) long-term business visa, please read our article here: Zivno visa Czech Republic).
Let’s now jump right into the promised topic and discover which one is better for you – the long-term visa extension or the application for a long-term residence permit?
Long-term visa extension
Let’s say you are an English Teacher, freelance Software Developer, Artist or any other person holding the long-term visa with the purpose of business or so called “zivno visa”, “freelance visa”, “z-list visa” or whatever other name you call it 🙂
The maximum validity of the long-term visa is 12 months. That means that if you got the visa for the full 12 months, you can not extend the visa. You then basically only have two options:
- apply for the long-term residence permit – you need to meet some requirements to qualify for this though such as to have a high enough monthly income, have no debts in social security, health care, income tax, etc. (read more below),
- let your visa expire and apply again for a new one – we only recommend this if you do not meet the requirements for the long-term residence permit (i.e. can not prove the high enough income) since you will need to go to a Czech Embassy again, show that you have 124 500 CZK again (effective from 1.4.2020), etc.
If you did not get the long-term visa for the full 12 months, you can in theory extend your visa to reach the full 12 months. That means that if you for example got your visa only for 7 months, you can apply for a 5 month extension.
The long-term visa extension is a pretty simple process. You basically need to submit exactly the same documents as for your first (current) long-term visa:
- application form
- 2 passport sized photos
- proof of accommodation (you need to have accommodation arranged for at least the remaining months)
- proof of funds (again showing at least the 124 500 CZK – effective from 1.4.2020)
- trade license extension
- health insurance
You are usually not required to show the letters of interest, new criminal background check or pass any interview. You can also apply for the long-term visa extension in the Czech Republic (at the MOI) and you will be legal until the decision is made – you just need to get a bridging visa.
The decision about your long-term visa extension should be officially made within 14 days after submitting your application, you need to count with delays though. The MOI never approves anything in time.
Long-Term Residence Permit
If you have got your long-term visa for the full 12 months (with or without the extension) and you wanna stay longer than that, you can either let your long-term visa expire and apply again for the same one or you can (preferably) apply for a long-term residence permit.
The long-term residence permit is not longer a sticker in your passport as the long-term visa, it is a plastic card (kind of a Czech ID) with your digital photo and fingerprints on it. It is stronger than the long-term visa and can be issued for up to two years. You have to renew the long-term residence permit less often then.
You need to meet some conditions to qualify for the long-term residence permit though. In case of the long-term residence permit with the purpose of business, the conditions to meet are as follows:
- You must be making enough money on monthly basis – there is a special calculation for that and the required amount slightly changes every year but we usually say at least 20 000 CZK a month to be on the safe side.
- You can have no debts in social security, health care, income tax and customs – that mainly means that you need to be paying all the above in time, in correct amounts and with no delays.
If you meet the above mentioned criteria, you can try and apply for the long-term residence permit with the purpose of business. We recommend starting say three months before your long-term visa expires because the long-term residence permit is way more paperwork than the long-term visa.
So, excited to hear what documents will be needed? Here you go the list then:
- application form – that is relatively simple to fill in since it is in Czech and English and you had to go through a similar form when applying for your long-term visa.
- 1 passport sized photo
- proof of accommodation – we recommend having the proof of accommodation at least for one year but contrary to the long-term visa, the validity of your proof of accommodation will not influence the validity of your long-term residence permit
- trade license extension – this is actually a very tricky part of the long-term residence permit process. The thing is that your trade license always have the same validity as your current visa. So, you need to make sure that you always have a valid visa (once your long-term visa expires, you need to get a bridging visa) and that you bring it to the trade license office in time to extend the validity of your trade license. If you do not present a valid visa in time, your trade license will be canceled and your long-term residence permit might be canceled as well (for not fulfilling the purpose of your stay).
- proof of funds – this is the part where most people fail if they are trying to deal with the long-term residence permit on their own without our help. The reason is that you need to prove to the MOI that you have been earning enough on monthly basis. You need to submit your invoices, bank statements showing your incomes, table of income. If you have already done your tax return in the Czech Republic, you must make sure that the tax return has been done in the correct way (usually meaning not using the 60/40 expense deduction).
- proof of having no debts in social security – we have worked with couple hundreds clients in regards to the business long-term residence permit and we could probably name like three (3) clients who had no debts there. The thing is that you are supposed to start paying the social security even before they register you and you get the payment details. So even if you start paying right away when you get registered there, you usually already have some debt and late payment fines in your account. And even if you have a 10 CZK debt there, the social security will no issue the confirmation of you having no debts.
- proof of having no debts in health care – this actually only applies to the countries whose nationals are allowed to contribute to the public health care system – for example Americans. In that case, the system is similar to the social security. Most other nationalities just need to present an extended private health insurance. If you want to get the residence permit for full two years, you must present the health insurance valid for at least two years as well.
- proof of having no debts with the Tax Office – this is usually ok, especially if you have not done your first tax return yet.
- proof of having no debts in customs – this is usually ok as well. Out of couple hundred clients, we do not remember anyone having a debt there.
- 2 500 CZK administrative fee for the MOI – this can not be paid in money, it must be paid in revenue stamps 🙂
The Ministry of the Interior (read more about the difference between the MOI and the Foreign Police here) can request some additional documents such as income tax assessment or criminal check but they usually do not do that.
On the other hand, there are many other things that the MOI can (and will if you try to do everything on your own with no experience with the long-term residence permit process) since there are many possible catches in the process. Let us list just a few of them below:
- the proves of no debts can take up to 30 days to get issued but they are only valid for 30 days. So when you receive some of them, they might only be valid for couple more days. If you submit them to the MOI when older than 30 days, the MOI will request new ones from you.
- trade license expiration – as mentioned above, the trade license has a limited validity and if you fail to keep extending it again and again (sometimes even up to five times during one application process), your long-term residence permit application can be denied.
- if your accountant is not much experienced in doing taxes for the purpose of the long-term residence permit, he or she can easily screw up. The thing is that Czech citizens usually use so called 60/40 deduction. That means that they deduct 60% of their incomes as their expenses. If you do the same though, you might end up not having enough to get your long-term residence permit since the MOI calculates your monthly income from your income after deductions.
There are many more things like that but this article is already a way too long so let’s not get deeper into the topic.
A couple more things to say though:
– the application for your long-term residence permit is to be submitted to the MOI according to the place of your residence,
– once you submit your application, you should get a bridging visa which allows you to stay in the Czech Republic, extend your trade license and keep working. It also allows you to travel under some conditions.
– the MOI can request additional documents during the approval process and they only give you a limited time to provide those documents – so make sure your address is up to date with the MOI and that you have your name on your doorbell and mail box.
– once your long-term residence permit is approved, you will need to go back to he MOI to give your biometric data – finger prints and photos. It is very difficult to change the date of your biometric so make sure you do not have to change the date once you book it.
– once you give the biometric data, you will need to wait for another 2-3 weeks to collect the actual long-term residence card.
– make sure you submit the new card to the trade license office in time so they extend your trade license for the two years.
We hope that this article has been as clear as possible and that you now understand the difference between a long-term visa extension and the long-term residence permit application.
If you have any questions though (and we believe you have many!) or you want us to take care of the whole process for you, please get in touch using the form on the right or one of our general Contacts.
Yours, Move To Prague – experts in long-term visa extensions and long-term residence permit applications.