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Employment of foreign nationals: Attention to changes in legislation! What should you know?

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The Czech labour market has been characterised by a very low rate of unemployment in the recent years. As a result, employers may face problems in filling vacancies with domestic workers due to insufficient labour supply. In this situation, employing a foreigner may be an optimal solution offering a large number of advantages. But at the same time, it also entails a number of challenges – especially legal and administrative ones. It is necessary to take into account all legislation relating to the employment of foreigners (in particular the Act on the Residence of Foreigners[1] and related regulations). Moreover, the legislation in this area has recently undergone extensive amendments. Let us mention the most important things that have changed.

As a result of the transposition of Directive 2021/1883[2], an amendment to the Act on the Residence of Foreigners was adopted with effect from 1 July 2023. The most perceptible changes concern the long-term residence permit for highly skilled employment – the so-called Blue Cards. One of the most significant changes is the extension of the criteria for fulfilling the requirement of high qualifications. A foreigner, asylum seeker or a person enjoying subsidiary protection will now meet this condition not only if he or she has duly completed university or higher vocational education, but also if he or she provides evidence of relevant professional experience.

Applying for a blue card has also been made significantly easier. Instead of an employment contract, the applicant can now submit a letter of intent with the application. In both cases, the minimum contract duration requirement has been reduced to 6 months (previously the requirement for an employment contract was 1 year). The maximum period of validity of the blue card, on the other hand, has been extended from the current 2 to 3 years.

In the event of a change of employer or job classification, the blue card holder is no longer obliged to apply to the Ministry of the Interior for prior approval – not even during the first 2 years of his/her stay in the Czech Republic. However, he/she is still obliged to notify the Ministry of the change within 3 working days.

The simplification of application conditions also applies to blue card holders in another EU country. They now do not have to present a document similar to a criminal record extract from their country of origin or from previous residence on request, nor do they have to provide proof of high qualifications, if they had worked on a blue card in another EU country for at least 2 years before submitting the application. For these applicants, the Ministry of the Interior will also issue a decision within 30 days (60 days in particularly complex cases) from the date of the application. The standard duration of the blue card procedure is 90 days.

The abolition of the labour market test for blue card will undoubtedly bring about considerably greater flexibility of the labour market. Now, under certain circumstances, it is no longer necessary to wait 30 days (or 10 days) and a foreigner can apply for a blue card immediately after the vacancy has been reported at the regional branch of the Labour Office.

The new regulation is also reflected in the conditions for applying for an employee card. The application for this permit is now required to be accompanied by proof of the vacancy number in the Central Register, unless the applicant has indicated it directly on the application form.

Furthermore, the deadline for the holders of the so-called DV/R visas, issued for the purpose of obtaining, among others, a blue or employee card, to appear at the Ministry of the Interior to process the data necessary for the issuance of a residence permit has been extended from 3 working days to 30 calendar days from the date of entry into the Czech Republic.

Seasonal workers have also been affected – the period, for which long-term visa and work permit for seasonal employment can be granted, has been extended from 6 to 9 months.

The next major round of changes to the legislation on economic migration of foreigners to the Czech Republic came into force on 1 January 2024. From the beginning of the year, the conditions for the inclusion of Ukrainian citizens in certain government programmes to support the employment of foreigners have been modified, and new rules on health insurance for foreigners are also in force.

In connection with the implementation of measures to further strengthen labour migration to the Czech Republic, the Government has, among other things, approved the addition of conditions for the participation of citizens of Ukraine in the Key and Research Staff Programme, the Highly Qualified Worker Programme and the Skilled Worker Programme. A citizen of Ukraine may be included in these programmes if:

  • he/she is a holder of temporary protection or international protection in another EU Member State or
  • he/she is an applicant for such protection, or
  • he/she is residing on the territory of Ukraine and is entitled to leave the country under the legislation in force there, or
  • in the case of the first two programmes mentioned above, he/she is residing in another country on the basis of a long-term visa or a long-term or permanent residence permit, and in the case of the third programme mentioned above, he/she is residing in another country on the basis of a long-term visa or a long-term residence permit for less than 2 years.

Last but not least, the amendment to the Public Health Insurance Act[3] introduces mandatory participation in public health insurance for all foreigners under the age of 18 with a valid long-term residence permit in the Czech Republic. The amendment also applies to children born on the territory of the Czech Republic, whose mother has been granted long-term residence in the territory of the Czech Republic, where these children remain participants in the public health insurance during the entire period of the proceedings regarding the application for their long-term residence, if the application was submitted within 60 days from the date of their birth. Until now, alien minors with a long-term residence permit had to have private comprehensive alien health insurance. However, these alien minors are not state insured. Their natural guardians, legal guardian or custodian are therefore responsible for their insurance.

What other legal changes apply to you, if you are a foreigner or an employer? What should you do, if you want to fill a job with a foreigner or apply for a job as a foreigner? What documents need to be prepared and where to send them? What must a foreigner do immediately upon arrival in the Czech Republic? What deadlines must not be missed?

If you do not want to make a mistake and expose yourself to unnecessary risk, contact our team of experienced experts who have many years of experience in the field of foreign and labour law and will be happy to advise you on everything. They will take care of preparing all the necessary documents and guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

[1] Act No. 326/1999 Coll., Act on the Residence of Foreigners on the Territory of the Czech Republic

[2] Directive (EU) 2021/1883 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2021 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment and repealing Council Directive 2009/50/EC

[3] Act No. 48/1997 Coll., on public health insurance