The 15th anniversary of the Office for Foreigners
July 1, 2001 opened the work of the Office for Repatriation and Foreigners, which in 2007 was reorganized into the Office for Foreigners. The office was founded to provide comprehensive and professional services in the field of legalization of stay and granting protection to foreigners staying on the territory of Poland. Only since 2007 the Head of the Office for Foreigners issued an administrative decision concerning approx. 125 thousand.
One of the main achievements of the Office was maintaining high level of service of foreigners in the field of refugees procedures during a increased flow of foreigners in 2008, 2009 and 2013. A high level of quality of procedures of legalization of stay in the periods of huge growth in the number of applications in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was managed to maintain. In addition, a big challenge was the preparation of Polish legislation to a quick and smooth entry of Poland into the Schengen area was a big challenge. Extremely important was the opening of small border traffic with Ukraine in July 2009 and Russia in July 2012 In addition, the Office was also responsible for the design and conduct of the legislative process a completely new law on foreigners.
The Office intensively uses foreign funds, e.g., within the framework of the Phare Programme, in 2007 was built and delivered a point of reception of applications from foreigners applying for refugee status located at the Taborowa 33 Street in Warsaw. Due to the SOLID programme more than 40 projects with a total value of over 40 million PLN were implemented within the financial perspective in 2007-2013. For the successful implementation of the European projects Office received the award from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration.
The main duties of the Office for Foreigners are, in particular: examination of the applications for international protection (refugee status or supplementary protection). Since 2007, foreigners have applied in Poland approximately 44 thousand applications on granting refugee status which concerned about 93 thousand people. 90% of all foreigners applying for international protection in Poland are passing a checkpoint in Terespol. For this reason, in 2009, a Branch of the Department of refugees in Biała Podlaska was established, which the key task is conducting initial interviews and formalities with foreigners as soon as possible.
Legalization of stay
The UdSC office activities in the field of legalization of stay consist in investigating the foreigners’ appeals on Magistrates and Border Guards decisions, as well as the expression of consent to the issuance of a Schengen or national visa under the visa consultation. In 2007-2015 the Office issued more than 24 thousand decisions in the field of legalization of stay (in particular, agreement for temporary residence permit, permanent residence permit, long-term resident of the EU), as well as conducted more than 4.5 million visa consultations.
A very important aspect of the Office for Foreigners activity is the provision of social assistance to persons applying for refugee status in Poland. The applicant may use the financial aid (or on their own desire to be without assistance or the ability to stay in refugee centres. All foreigners are provided, in particular medical assistance, teaching Polish language, as well as access to schools and kindergartens.
After the entrance of Poland into the Schengen area, the Office for Foreigners plays an important role in the cooperation between Poland and other member States in the field of visa policy, security and protection of external borders of the European Union for its leadership in the field of visa counseling. Management experts participate in the work of the working groups of the Council and the Commission of the European Union. The head of the Office holds the post of member of the Board of European Bureau for Asylum (EASO). The Office also dynamically operates within the framework of GDISC (General Directors of Immigration Services Conference) – an informal platform that supports practical cooperation between the European immigration services.