Connecticut, US

Apr 12 2019

Consular Quotas Proposed; Many Immigration Rules Would be Relaxed

Czech Republic

At a Glance

A draft bill pending with the Czech Senate would introduce the following key changes to the immigration process:

  • Applications for business visas for over 90 days and for Employee Cards (the main residence permit type) would be subject to a consular quota, which may reduce processing times;
  • The Labor Office may, in some cases, reduce the time period employers are required to publish vacancies to 10 days (down from 30 days) before filing an Employee Card for Local Hires application; and
  • Employee Card holders could change employers, work locations or positions when their Employee Card expires, unless the terms of employment allow such changes earlier.

A closer look

A draft bill pending with the Czech Senate would introduce the following changes:

  • Consular application quotas. Applications for business visas for over 90 days and for Employee Cards (the main residence permit type) would be subject to a consular quota, where no quota currently applies. An annual quota would be set per consular post and released on a monthly basis.
    • Impact. The quota may alleviate consular workload issues by limiting the application volume, but it may cause longer appointment wait times once the monthly quota is filled.
    • Unaffected categories. Intra-company transferees and EU Blue Card applications would be exempt from the quota.
  • Shorter vacancy posting period. The Labor Office may, in some cases, reduce the time period employers are required to publish vacancies to 10 days (down from 30 days) before filing an Employee Card for Local Hires application. The requirement to publish a vacancy is part of mandatory labor market testing for this permit type.
    • Impact. Employers and foreign nationals would benefit from faster application processing in some cases where there the position is considered a shortage occupation or if there is great demand on the labor market in general.
  • Civic integration requirement. Starting in 2021, long-term residence applicants would be required to complete civic integration courses within one year of arrival.
    • Impact. This requirement would add an administrative hurdle to the residence permit application process.
  • Other rules to be relaxed. The below other notable proposed changes would modernize and streamline immigration processes:
    • Employment changes. Under the new law, Employee Card holders could change employers, work locations or positions when their Employee Card expires, unless the terms of employment allow such changes earlier. Currently, such changes require consent from the Ministry and are not always approved.
    • Students and researchers. The application process and intra-EU mobility for students and researchers would be streamlined through the implementation of the Students and Researchers Directive.

 

Background

Many Eastern European countries have struggled with consular workload, as growing economies and domestic labor market shortages result in increasing application volume for foreign workers. The consular quota and reduced vacancy posting address two aspects of this issue for the Czech Republic, by seeking to make the application process more transparent, limiting the application volume and expediting the application processing while recognizing growing labor market shortages.

Looking ahead

An alternative resolution to consular workload issues recently raised in Czech parliament would allow in-country application filing, which would both expedite application filing and remove consular variation. However, further updates on this proposal are not expected before the end of 2019. 

Fragomen will report on relevant developments once these rules are approved by the Czech Senate.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to emea@fragomen.com.