Magdalena Świtajska

Long-term employment of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens in Poland

Solutions gradually being introduced to enable hiring in Poland of citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus, as well as Georgia and Moldova, are helpful mainly for short-term employment.

Hiring a foreigner in Poland typically entails completion of numerous formal requirements and gathering a significant number of documents—and takes patience, particularly in the case of the most often-used Type A permit, which requires a two-step procedure at the county level (the local labour office) and the province level. This procedure no longer applies to hiring of citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, for whom certain relaxed procedures have been introduced.

Under the rules in force since the beginning of 2011 (Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy dated 30 August 2006 on Work by Foreigners Not Required to Obtain a Work Permit), citizens of these countries are released from the requirement to obtain a work permit in Poland. The exemption is in place indefinitely, but is limited to temporary hiring, as the work may be performed in Poland without a permit for a period not exceeding 6 months within the following 12 months.

In order to hire a citizen of one of these countries without a work permit, the employer must register with the local labour office for the county where the employer has its headquarters, submitting a declaration of intent to hire the foreigner. The declaration is a bilateral document with basic information about the employer, the foreigner, the position and the planned employment period in Poland. Registration is made on the spot, without any fee, and the declaration may be completed, signed and filed by an authorised representative. The labour office makes a notation of registration.

Despite the exemption from the work permit requirement, citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova travelling to Poland to work must still obtain a work visa, which in this case is issued for the period of the employment on the basis of the declaration filed by the employer, that is, for a maximum of 6 months. The right to enter Poland for tourist purposes without a visa does not release the worker from this requirement. Under the visa regulations, the foreigner is required to present the original of the registered declaration by the employer as well as a fairly long list of documents.

The procedure for obtaining a visa with the right to work may last up to two weeks, which somewhat weakens the benefit of the exemption from the work permit requirement. However, the visa regulations are also gradually being relaxed. Recently, for example, in order to obtain a Polish work visa Russian citizens have only been required to present their passport and file the completed visa application, a photograph, and the original registered declaration.

It must be borne in mind that in any case where the foreigner is to continue working in Poland longer than 6 months during the year, the employer must obtain the relevant work permit for the employee. On this basis, the foreigner must apply, no later than 45 days prior to the expiration of the work visa, for issuance by the province governor of a permit to reside in Poland for a further definite period; the current work visa is not subject to extension. The current regulations do, however, make it significantly easier for citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova and their employers in Poland to obtain a Type A work permit. If the employee has worked for the employer on the basis of a declaration for at least 3 months and the employer files an application for issuance of a work permit for the employee for the period immediately following the period in which the foreigner has worked on the basis of the declaration, the province governor will issue the work permit without the necessity to undergo the process in which the labour office surveys the local labour market and seeks Polish candidates for the position. It is essential in this respect to maintain the identity of the employer and employee as well as continuity of employment.

The completed application for a work permit must be filed with the governor of the province where the employer has its headquarters, promptly following the end of 3 months of employment of the foreigner on the basis of the declaration. Complying with this deadline makes it possible to obtain a work permit in a timely fashion and submit the application for a temporary residence permit no later than 45 days before the end of the validity of the work visa, and obtain the residence permit without having to leave Poland. When the work permit and temporary residence permit are obtained, the employer and employee will not need to worry about these requirements again for approximately two more years—the period for which work permits are generally issued—until the time comes around to extend the permits.

Magdalena Świtajska, Employment Law practice, Wardyński & Partners