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When traveling to the Czech Republic, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.
As a business visitor to the Czech Republic, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:
Nationals of the European Union, the United States and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 27 European countries. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver in the Schengen Area, you will be required to obtain a Schengen Short-Term Business Visa prior to travel. Visa-waivered nationals, as well as those who are required to obtain a visa, are authorized to travel to the Czech Republic and throughout the Schengen Area. Please note that travelers may not spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period inside the Schengen Area.
The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Czech law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in the Czech Republic, even if conducted for a short duration.
In limited circumstances, foreign nationals may engage in certain specialized professional and technical activities without obtaining a work permit for a short period, although an after-sales agreement and additional preconditions may be required. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether a work permit exemption is applicable.
The requirements for a work permit depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in the Czech Republic. The most common types of Czech work permits are:
Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain work authorization in order to work in the Czech Republic. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in the Czech Republic.
Additional work permit exemptions are available in the Czech Republic for qualifying groups, including graduates of Czech universities and pedagogical workers teaching in the Czech Republic. In these cases, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for work permit exemptions should be obtained prior to traveling.
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which governs post-Brexit relations between the EU and the United Kingdom, has altered immigration regulations in the affected countries. Please be sure to contact your immigration representative for full details regarding the TCA’s impact in the Czech Republic.
Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.
IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The Czech Republic has nearly exhausted its Fast Track program quota of 100 applications per year. About 15 more applications will be accepted.
What does the change mean? The quota is on pace to be reached much earlier than last year. Employers who are unable to use the Fast Track program should consider other options, including obtaining a short-term work permit for non-EU employees so they can begin work before obtaining an employee card.
Background: The Fast Track program provides expedited employee card processing for employers who have been approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The program was expanded in 2013 to include visa-exempt nationals on local payroll, including local hires and intracompany transferees in management or specialist positions.
Each year, the Czech Republic limits the number of applications that can be processed through Fast Track to avoid overwhelming the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior. In 2015, the limit was reached in October. The limit on Fast Track applications does not affect employers applying through the regular process nor those applying for short-term work permits, which are valid for up to 90 days.
BAL Analysis: Employers who rely on the Fast Track program should contact their BAL attorney to discuss other options once the cap is reached.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Czech Republic. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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What is the change? A wide-ranging law that takes effect Dec. 18 makes significant changes to business immigration in the Czech Republic, including imposing a new deadline for filing Employee Card renewals, expanding the class of people eligible for dependent status, lengthening the validity period of long-term visas and requiring greater detail when calculating the five years of continuous stay required for permanent residence.
What does the change mean? Employee Card renewals must be filed no later than 30 days (rather than 14 days under previous rules) before the expiration date of a valid card. Employees and non-EU nationals should also be sure to familiarize themselves with new rules on dependents, long-term visa validity and permanent residence.
Background: The law, signed by President Miloš Zeman on Nov. 24, is called the Amendment to the Act on Asylum in the Czech Republic, but it affects business immigration as well as asylum law. Among key provisions:
Other provisions of the law establish new procedures for children traveling without parents, impose stricter rules for non-married partners hoping to qualify as dependents, provide for greater financial data collection by Czech authorities and allow immigration authorities to cancel residency permits for residents convicted of certain crimes.
BAL Analysis: Employers should note the many substantive changes, as well as the important procedural change that sets an earlier deadline for filing to renew Employee Cards. Renewal applications submitted after the new deadline will automatically be rejected. Contact your BAL attorney with questions about any of the law’s provisions.
What is the change? The Czech Republic has taken steps to make it easier for highly qualified Ukrainian nationals to apply for employee cards to work in the Czech Republic.
What does the change mean? Highly qualified Ukrainian nationals can apply for Czech Republic Employee Cards in person at either the Czech Embassy in Kiev or the Czech Consulate in Lviv. Until this week, it had been almost impossible for Ukrainian nationals to obtain the cards due to extreme difficulty in booking online appointments via the Czech Republic’s electronic VISAPOINT system.
Background: Employee cards function as a joint work and residence permit for foreign nationals who wish to stay in the country for longer than three months in order to work.
In the past year, it became increasingly difficult for Ukrainian nationals to book the appointments to obtain employee cards through the VISAPOINT system because groups in the Ukraine would book appointments online as soon as they were available and subsequently sell the appointments to Ukrainians looking to work in the Czech Republic. This caused problems for many multinational companies operating in the Czech Republic, particularly those in the IT sector, as they traditionally relied on highly qualified Ukrainian nationals to help meet labor demands.
The recent change will allow highly qualified Ukrainians to bypass VISAPOINT and apply for Czech Republic Employee Cards in person.
BAL Analysis: The change is welcome news to the Czech business community, particularly its IT sector, where it has become imperative to hire a highly qualified workforce.
What is the change? A new law allows non-EU nationals to continue working in the Czech Republic while their renewal applications for work and residence permits are pending.
What does the change mean? Provided they have filed for an Employee Card (which functions as a joint work and residence permit) at least 15 days before the expiration date of their old permit, non-EU nationals can continue working and living in the Czech Republic while their application is pending.
Background: The Czech Republic implemented the EU Single Permit Directive in June 2014 and began issuing single-permit Employee Cards. At the time, applicants were experiencing significant processing delays and, in some cases, non-EU nationals were not able to obtain new permits before their old permits expired. Although a “fiction of stay” provision in the immigration law allowed non-EU nationals to remain in the country if they applied for renewal within 15 days of their old permit’s expiration date, they were not allowed to work while awaiting renewal. A recent amendment to the Act on Employment fixes that problem and allows non-EU nationals to continue working in the Czech Republic while their application for an Employee Card is pending. The amendment took effect Aug. 17.
BAL Analysis: The change is welcome news to employers and non-EU nationals working and living in the Czech Republic as it will provide for uninterrupted employment in cases where applications are delayed. Employers and non-EU nationals must be sure to submit Employee Card applications at least 15 days prior to the expiration date of their work and residence permits, or risk losing status.
What is the change? The Czech Republic will begin issuing long-term residence permits, called “employee cards,” that will allow non-EU foreign nationals to reside and work in the Czech Republic for more than three months and up to two years.
What does the change mean? The employee cards will replace visas for over 90 days for the purpose of employment, permits for long-term residence for the purpose of employment, and Green Cards (which will no longer be issued).
Background: Enabled by a new law that was published June 9, the employee card is intended for all types of employment regardless of the level of required professional qualifications. However, the job for which an applicant may file for an employee card must come from the central register of job vacancies that can be filled by holders of employee cards.
The employee cards are dual in nature in the sense that they combine the work permit and the residence permit with one authorization. They may also be issued in non-dual form, as a residence permit, to foreign nationals who have free access to the labor market according to the Employment Act and who still need work permits, which would need to be appended to the application for the employee card.
The cards will be issued for the length of employment contracts, but may be extended for up to two years. Applications for extensions must be filed no sooner than 90 days and no later than 14 days before expiration of the current employee card at the Ministry of Interior. If the employee card expires during pendency of the extension application, the applicant must obtain a bridge visa to continue residing in the country, but he or she cannot work until the extension is granted.
BAL Analysis: The employee cards simplify procedures for foreign nationals. Companies should make plans now for their rollout later this month.
For qualified employers who wish to transfer certain foreign employees to the Czech Republic as “local hires,” an expanded new program will provide some benefits. The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade released information this week about the expansion of the Welcome Package for Investors. When the program launched in 2012, only seconded intra-company transfers (ICTs) who remained on foreign contract/payroll were eligible to participate. Effective this month, employees are eligible for this program if they are in “manager” and “key specialist” roles and if they will be transferred to local Czech contact/payroll capacities. The program is expected to be available until 2015.
The program provides a quicker and more streamlined application process for work permits. Under the program:
To be eligible to participate, employers must:
To be eligible for this program under the extension, employees must be:
Qualified as a “manager” or “key specialist,” as defined by:
BAL is awaiting confirmation from CzechInvest and the Ministry of Trade on specific items. For example, whether beneficiaries of the program may work at client sites; whether dependents will also benefit from the 30-day visa processing time; the validity period of the work permits and visas; and whether the transferee must fill a similar position in the Czech Republic that they filled in their home countries.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Czech Republic. For additional information, please contact GlobalVisaGroup@bal.com.