What will happen to Ukrainians who want to stay here?

PPCE - 2022/07/27


On 30 March 2023, their temporary protection visa, which allows them free access to the labour market, will expire. No one knows yet how the Czech Republic will then act.

We all hope that by then the war will be long over. If not, we should allow them to apply for another residence title on our national territory. Otherwise, they will have to go and apply, as they used to, directly to Ukraine, wait there for several months for processing, and their employer will have to wait for them.

We need “our Ukrainians” here

To date, according to the authorities, there are some 300 000 refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic. They are finding jobs and employers are very interested in them, primarily because they are willing to take up long-term vacant positions that Czechs are not too keen on, which is a natural phenomenon in countries with a high standard of living, which the Czech Republic already is.

At the other end of the labour market spectrum, where there is a shortage of highly qualified employees, Ukrainians are taking up positions as professionals and specialists. It has long been the case that Ukrainians are not only found on construction sites, but very often in the offices of multinational engineering or software companies. Thus, we can say that the influence that working Ukrainians have on the Czech economy is generally positive.

The question is what the situation will look like after 30 March 2023, when visas for temporary protection expire, and there are several scenarios according to which the Czech Republic can proceed towards Ukrainian refugees.

First of all, if the conflict in Ukraine continues, the Czech Republic will certainly not decide to expel all Ukrainians back to the war zone. I think that even if this is not possible at the moment, it will be possible to extend the visa in some way. However, in the event that the situation in Ukraine is such as to allow safe return, temporary protection may be terminated.

But then what?

As I have already mentioned, a large percentage of Ukrainians have found employment here, and many of them are actively participating in our economy with the prospect of staying here permanently. This is great news for the Czech labour market, which is far from saturated, as the hunger for skilled workers is still huge.

The fundamental problem is that temporary protection visas are really only a temporary benefit that cannot be ‘converted’ into a regular residence permit. In other words, the current regulation responded to a situation where the government needed to implement a solution to legalise the stay of refugees and integrate them into society as soon as possible. Their continued stay in the country then remained a question for the future.

The Ministry of the Interior is already addressing the situation and, according to available information, would like to allow the application for another residence title directly on the territory of the Czech Republic in the event of the end of the war conflict. This would

significantly simplify the administration for Ukrainian citizens and they would be able to continue their employment freely. Otherwise, the situation would be somewhat more complicated. The future of the jobs that Ukrainian citizens do here would be more complicated.

They would have to apply for a new residence permit in person at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ukraine, which could lead to a discrepancy between the expiry of temporary protection and the issuance of a new residence permit. This could lead to temporary termination of employment for an employed Ukrainian. Thus, he would not be allowed to work in our country until a new work and residence permit is issued.

Given the current situation on the labour market, I would hazard a guess that the employer would wait for his employees who are waiting for the permit to be issued. On the other hand, a prolonged absence of an employee would certainly cause economic losses to the employer and it would be easier for him to fill the position with someone else.

Mirek Mejtský, Partner Petyovský & Partners Corporate Immigration s.r.o.