Digitalisation of migration policy will be a gradual evolution, not a revolution

PPCE - 2023/06/07


On June 5th, a key debate on the new law on the residence of foreigners took place at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague. The event brought an open discussion between representatives of the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (OAMP MVČR) and representatives of several major employers, including AB-Inbev, GE Aviation, SAP and Honeywell.

The current migration process for highly skilled employees from abroad is unsatisfactory due to its length and bureaucratic burden. Compared to other OECD countries, we have significantly unfavourable conditions. At the meeting initiated by the immigration and relocation agency Petyovský & Partners Corporate Immigration, it was discussed why large employers need to relocate foreigners to the Czech Republic, what it brings them and where they see pitfalls within the current system.

For companies it is clearly the length of the immigration process. “We are looking for process and IT experts in particular abroad. In our experience, the migration process takes about 6 to 9 months for workers from India and 4-5 months for people from the UK. We are competing with Poland and Romania, which means we are losing a lot of employees, because not everyone is willing to wait so long for relocation to the Czech Republic,” said Jaromír Staroba, Prague Capability Center Director at AB-InBev. The Ministry of the Interior has long been aware of the problem and is preparing to digitalize the entire system, which should make it simpler and more efficient.

Comparison with neighbouring countries

As a residence title for highly skilled professionals, the Blue Card has a legal processing time 30 days longer than the standard employment card (90 vs. 60 days). In Germany, the fast-track procedure for skilled workers takes 21 days. In Poland, the decision to issue a long-term work visa takes 14 days. “The whole process is so long not only because of the Czech deadlines, but also because of the time it takes to prepare the necessary documents, not to mention the fact that applications are still submitted physically and then forwarded between offices by mail. Digitalization of migration processes should change this,” says Mirek Mejtský from Petyovský & Partners, which not only provides this administration, but also for corporate clients.

Business calls for faster procedures

“For our core employees from, for example, Mexico or India, who have been working for the company for 15 years, the same rules apply as for everyone else, i.e. 7 to 8 months of waiting and processing. Key people can’t miss the start of a new project and it’s a big problem if they have to wait over six months. This lost profit is quantifiable,” said Tomas Szaszi, Director of Strategy and Development at Honeywell.

Companies would therefore welcome the possibility of a fast-track short-stay visa, which would allow the worker to start work more quickly while standard residence permits are processed. “An expedited process could be coupled with greater accountability. I believe that responsible companies would be willing to commit to this,” said Vlasta Sloupova, HR director at GE Aviation. “The new law foresees the possibility of a surcharge for express processing of applications. For processing within 21 days, 10 times the administrative fee should be paid,” added Miroslav Mejtský.

The aim of the amendment is to increase the clarity of

Representatives of the OAMP MVČR said that for several years now we have been the country with the 5th highest immigration from EU countries. According to them, they have been aware of many of the suggestions made at the debate for a long time. Officials also pointed out that companies talk about one segment that is preferred and in the interest of the country, but the whole immigration system is much larger and has only one capacity, which is facing pressure to reduce the number of officials.

The new law is intended to digitise the lengthy immigration process and set the scene for many years to come. The legislation is due to be submitted to the government and parliament for approval later this year and should come into force in mid-2025. According to OAMP representatives, the new legislation aims to increase clarity, which has long been one of the ills of the current law on the residence of foreigners, which has already undergone 65 amendments since its introduction in 2020.

More foreign forces will bring more money

The current concept of migration policy emphasises above all the security aspect, which must always be an integral part of its functioning, but should not be its driver. According to calculations by the South Moravian

Innovation Centre, migration policy driven by the needs of the knowledge economy can have a significant impact on long-term GDP growth. As few as 15,000 newly arrived highly skilled workers can cause up to 0.5% growth in the Czech Republic’s GDP.

The Czech Republic needs to rethink its migration policy vision

The Czech government should define a new vision of migration policy in the context of attracting talent or highly skilled workers from abroad in line with the priorities of the country and its economy. “It is imperative that such a vision includes the ability of the system to identify the talent needed for the country’s goals of transforming into a knowledge-based economy, relocate the desired person in a predictable and competitive timeframe, and retain the desired person by providing a welcoming environment in which to live and work. The Home Office is bringing in the technical background to enable such goals through digitalisation, but it will be a gradual evolution. How rapid it will be depends primarily on funding, which is key to it. However, this cost should be seen as an investment that will benefit the economy and help it shed the label of ‘assembly plant of Europe’,” concludes Mejtský.