23 April 2019

Amendment to the Act on Foreigners

The Act primarily provides for solutions regarding the entry and stay of foreigners for the purposes of studies, scientific research, internship and participation in volunteering as part of the European Voluntary Service program. It also provides for solutions aimed at eliminating the so-called “stay tourism”. Amendment will come into force on April 27, 2019.

The Act[1] aims to implement into Polish law the Directive (EU) 2016/801[2] on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training, voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing (recast version).

Nevertheless, the Act does not provide for admission to schoolchildren participating in school exchanges or educational projects and for accepting foreigners to work as an au pair, as well as for volunteering other than European volunteering, ie in the optional directory of foreigners covered by the Directive.

  1. National visas, temporary residence permits for studies, research, internships or voluntary work as part of the European Voluntary Service

The provisions of the Foreigners Act will provide for the issuance of national visas in order to:

– first-cycle, second-cycle or uniform Master’s degree program or education at a doctoral school, with the note “student” when the purpose of a foreigner’s stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland is to take up or continue full-time studies: first-cycle, second-cycle or uniform uniform Master’s degree program or education at a doctoral school,

– conduct scientific research or development works – with the annotation “researcher”,

– an internship – with the annotation “intern”,

– participation in the European Voluntary Service program – with the annotation “volunteer”.

In the event a foreign national is covered by an EU program or multilateral program involving mobility measures or an agreement between at least two recognized higher education institutions providing for intra-EU mobility, next to the annotation “student” or “researcher” in the national visa, there will also be annotation concerning this program or agreement.

The Act on foreigners will also provide for the issuance of temporary residence permits for the purposes of the directive:

– temporary residence permit for the purpose of studying, i.e. when the purpose of a foreigner’s stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland is to take up or continue a full-time first-cycle, second-cycle or uniform Master’s degree program or to attend a doctoral school,

– temporary residence permit for the purpose of conducting scientific research,

– temporary residence permit for inters,

– temporary residence permits for volunteers to participate in the European Voluntary Service program.

In the residence cards issued in connection with the granting of these permits, the following annotations will be posted: “student” “researcher” “intern” and “volunteer”, and next to the annotation “student” or “researcher” on the residence card, there will also be annotation concerning the program or agreement providing for intra-EU mobility.

The conditions for issuing national visas for the abovementioned purposes and granting temporary residence permits for the abovementioned purposes have been unified, as well as the conditions for withdrawal of these visas and permits, in accordance with the requirements of the implemented directive.

  1. Requirement of approval of the host entity

The condition for issuing a national visa or granting a temporary residence permit for the above purposes shall be approval of the given host unit, ie the unit running the studies (excluding specific categories), a scientific unit, an internship organizer or an organizational unit for which the foreigner is to perform the services as a volunteer. In the case of units conducting studies, which will not be subject to the obligation of approval, the requirement to issue a national visa or to grant a temporary residence permit for the purpose of study will be the lack of issuance of a decision prohibiting the admission of foreigners, referred to in Article. 144a paragraph 1 of the Act on foreigners. The approval requirement will not apply to academic institutions, within the meaning of art. 14 of the Act of July 20, 2018. – Law on higher education and science, as well as vocational schools within the meaning of art. 15 of this Act, which are public vocational schools, military universities, state service schools and universities run by churches and religious associations which attitude towards the Republic of Poland is governed by an international agreement or statute.

Approval of the units carrying out studies, scientific units (in a modified form in relation to the previously provided for the approval procedure), the organizers of the internships, and organizational units for which foreigners are to perform services as volunteers, for purposes related to the possibility of admission of foreign nationals for the purposes covered by 2016/801/EU, will take place at the request of the parties by decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs after obtaining information from certain authorities and after consultation with the competent Minister, for a period which shall in principle be 5 years (or in principle 2 years in the case of the organiser of the internship and the organizational unit to which the foreigner is to providing services as a volunteer), with the possibility of prolonging these periods.

The requirement to approve studies units for the purpose of admission of foreigners for the purpose of taking up or continuing studies for the purposes of issuing visas and granting temporary residence permits will only be applied from 1 October 2019, ie from the academic year 2019/2020, also in the case of submitting an application for a national visa or a temporary residence permit for the purpose of studies before the Act enters into force, i.e. before April 27, 2019.

The requirement to approve a scientific unit (according to the principles set out in this amendment), an internship organizer or an organizational unit for which a foreigner is to perform services as a volunteer will be used in the case of applying for a national visa or temporary residence permit after the date of entry into life of the Act, ie after April 27, 2019.

Approvals of research units based on the previous regulations before the date of entry into force of this Act, will remain valid for the periods specified in the approval decisions.

  1. Change regarding preparatory courses for studies

A national visa with the annotation “student” may be issued and a temporary residence permit for the purpose of studying, it may also be granted to foreigners who intend to take a preparatory course to study at full-time first-cycle, second-cycle or uniform Master’s degree program or to study in a doctoral school, if they are citizens of the countries specified in the regulation of the Council of Ministers and in the event of issuing such a regulation.

  1. Costs of living of a foreigner in Poland

The Act provides that when examining sufficient funds to cover the costs of living by a foreigner applying for a national visa or granting a temporary residence permit for purposes covered by Directive 2016/801, the costs of foreigner residence in Poland will be taken into account.

  1. Student mobility, short-term mobility of scientists and family members of scientists, long-term mobility of scientists and family members of scientists

The purpose of the directive 2016/801/EU implemented by the Act is to contribute to the flow to the European Union of highly qualified third-country nationals, in particular researchers and students, as well as promoting the Union as an attractive place to research and innovation, and increasing opportunities in the global competition for talent, improve the EU’s competitiveness and growth indicators, which will be implemented by a number of statutory legal solutions, such as the ability to use student mobility for up to 360 days by foreigners  or short-term mobility for researchers and with the short-term mobility of the family member of a researcher for up to 180 days in any period of a 360 days – based on the appropriate permit residence permit or long-term visa issued in another Member State and meeting the provided requirements, and  long-term mobility of a researcher and long-term mobility of researcher’s family member  after the temporary residence permit to long-term mobility for researchers and on a temporary residence permit for the purpose of the mobility of long-term family member.

Student mobility – shall be understood as the mobility of a student or doctoral candidate covered by an EU program or multilateral program including mobility measures or an agreement between at least two higher education institutions providing for intra-EU mobility for a maximum period of 360 days in each Member State;

Short-term mobility of a researcher and short-term mobility of a family member of a  researcher – shall be understood as the mobility of a researcher or a researcher’s family member for a period not exceeding 180 days in any period of 360 days in any Member State of the European Union;

Long-term mobility of a scientist and long-term mobility of the family member of a scientist shall be understood as the mobility of a scientist or a scientist’s family member for a period exceeding 180 days in a given EU Member State;

The conditions for a foreign student to use mobility of the student on the territory of Poland will be as follows:

  • the purpose of staying on the territory of Poland of a foreigner who is a student or doctoral student is to continue or supplement studies undertaken in the territory of another European Union Member State;
  • foreign national is covered by an EU program or multilateral program covering mobility measures or an agreement between at least two higher education institutions providing for intra-EU mobility;
  • residence permit held by the foreigner referred to in art. 1 point 2 (a) Regulation No. 1030/2002, or a long-stay visa issued by another Member State of the European Union, contains the annotation “student”;
  • the period of stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland for continuing or supplementing studies undertaken on the territory of another European Union Member State shall not exceed 360 days;
  • The head of the Office for Foreigners will receive appropriate notice on the intention of the foreigner to use this mobility, together with the required documents, from the unit conducting studies based in Poland, approved by the minister responsible for internal affairs, unless this unit is not subject to the approval requirement, or from the unit conducting studies, which is not subject to the obligation of approval, in respect of which no decision was issued prohibiting the admission of foreigners,
  • failure to issue a decision on objection by the Head of the Office for Foreigners within 30 days (this condition will be applied only after 60 days from the date of entry into force of the Act).

The conditions for the use of the short-term mobility of a scientist or a short-term mobility of a scientist’s family member of a scientist on the territory of Poland will be as follows:

  • the purpose of staying on the territory of Poland of a foreigner who is a scientist is to conduct part of scientific research or development works in a scientific unit based in Poland approved by the minister competent for internal affairs, and the purpose of stay of a family member of a scientist is to stay with this scientist in that territory;
  • the residence permit held by the foreigner referred to in art. 1 point 2 (a) Regulation No 1030/2002, or a long-stay visa issued by another Member State of the European Union, contains the reference ‘researcher’; and a family member of the researcher has a residence permit for joining the family and a residence permit issued by that other EU Member State;
  • The head of the Office for Foreigners will receive an appropriate notification of the intention of a foreigner to use this mobility, along with the required documents, from a scientific unit based in Poland approved by the minister competent for internal affairs,
  • failure to issue a decision on objection by the Head of the Office for Foreigners within 30 days (this condition will be applied only after 60 days from the date of entry into force of the Act).

The use of student mobility, short-term mobility and long-term mobility of a scientist in a Member State of the European Union other than Poland by foreigners holding a national visa issued by the Polish authorities or residence cards with the annotation “student” or “scientist” and short-term and long-term mobility of family members are regulated by the law of individual EU Member States.

If a foreigner holding a national visa issued by the Polish authorities for first-cycle, second-cycle or uniform Master’s degree program, or for a doctoral course with the annotation “student” or a temporary residence permit for the purpose of studying, intends to use the mobility of a student in another EU Member State, a unit conducting studies in which a foreigner is studying, having its registered office in the Republic of Poland, or a unit conducting studies in which a foreigner intends to study, having its registered office in a Member State of the European Union in which a foreigner intends to use this mobility, or a foreigner intending to use this mobility, they will be required to notify their intention to the competent authority of that Member State and the Head of the Office for Foreigners, provided that the provisions in force in that Member State provide for such notification.

If a foreigner holding a national visa issued by the Polish authorities for research or development or a temporary residence permit for the purpose of conducting research intends to use the mobility of a short-term or long-term researcher in another Member State of the European Union, the scientific unit in which the foreigner research or development, based in the Republic of Poland, or a scientific institution in which a foreigner intends to conduct research or development work, established in a Member State of the European Union, in which a foreigner intends to use this mobility, or a foreigner intending to use mobility, will be required to notify their intention to the competent authority of that Member State and the Head of the Office for Foreigners, provided that the rules in force in that Member State provide for such notification.

 If a foreigner who is a family member of a researcher holding a temporary residence permit issued by the Polish authorities, referred to in art. 159 sec. 1 point 1 (f) of the Act on Foreigners, intends to use the mobility of a short-term or long-term family member of a researcher in another EU Member State, a scientist whose family member is that foreigner, a scientific unit in which the scientist conducts research or development work based in the Republic of Poland, the Polish or scientific institution in which the scientist intends to conduct scientific research or development works, located in that other Member State of the European Union, will be required to notify the competent authority of that Member State and the Head of the Office for Foreigners, if the regulations existing in that Member State provide for such notification.

  1. Temporary residence permits after completing studies or scientific research

The Act also provides for granting temporary residence permit in order to enable students and researchers to look for work or planning to start a business in Poland after completing studies or scientific research, once for a period of 9 months.

  1. Access of students and scientists to the Polish labor market

The Act provides for the possibility of performing work on the territory of the Republic of Poland by scientists and students or PhD students with a national visa or residence card with the annotation “student” or “scientist” issued by Polish authorities, as well as by scientists and students or PhD students using intra-EU mobility in the territory Polish. In addition, there is a waiver of work permit for foreigners who will be granted a temporary residence permit after completing scientific research or development works in order to search for or start planning a business in the territory of the Republic of Poland. Also, members of the researcher’s family who have been granted a temporary residence permit for the long-term mobility of a researcher’s family member were also released from the obligation to have a work permit.

  1. Except for the scope of implementation of Directive 2016/801

The Act also provides for a new ground for refusal to initiate proceedings for granting temporary residence and work permits and temporary residence permits for the purpose of performing work in a highly demanding profession, related to the purpose originally declared by the foreigner to enter the territory of the Republic of Poland. The refusal to initiate the above-mentioned proceedings will concern foreigners staying on the territory of Poland on the basis of a Schengen visa or a national visa issued by the Polish authorities for tourism purposes or for visits to family or friends or staying on this territory on the basis of a visa issued by another Schengen state for tourist purposes or for visiting friends or family.


[1] Act of February 22, 2019 amending the Act on Foreigners and certain other acts (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 577)

[2] Directive (EU) 2016/801[2] of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 (O.J. L 132, 21/05/2016, p. 21)

The Directive replaces two previous directives: Council Directive 2004/114/EC of 13 December 2004 on the conditions of admission of third-country nationals for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service (O.J. UE L 375 of 23 of December 2004, p. 12, as amended), and Council Directive 2005/71/EC of 12 October 2005 on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for the purpose of scientific research (OJ. EU L 289, 03.11.2005, p. 15, as amended).