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Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for visa applications

Amendment to the Act on Foreigners (Journal of Laws 2020, item 35) provides a solution to shorten and facilitate national visa procedure. The novelisation came into force on 9 February 2021. According to the information from the official website of the Spokesman for small and medium-sized enterprises, the necessity to shorten visa procedures was raised by entrepreneurs in Poland.

Difficulties related to visa procedures, elongated under COVID-19 pandemic, significantly postpones ability to enter the labour market, which has negative consequences for migrants and Polish employees. The main problem remains to be the duration of the procedure and delays caused mainly by difficulties in submitting applications. The model on how the current procedure could be changed was one of the subjects of the Working Team for the Legalization of Residence and Employment of Foreigners of the Council of Entrepreneurs. 

The novelisation to the Act on Foreigners (Journal of Laws 2020, item 35) provides a possibility to extend competences of the central administration in terms of visa applications. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for processing tourist and work visa applications.  Implementation of the new regulation requires establishment of a new department within the Ministry. Officials of this new entity will support consulates assuming part of their responsibilities. According to the document, officials should gain similar instruments as consuls but no clarifications on their competencies concerning applicant’s identity verification have been yet announced. 

Authorities do not clarify the list of conditions for such applications, nor the list of states where foreigners will be able to submit visa applications by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the declarations, Belarusians will be the first group to benefit from the new solution. It is worth to mention that migrants form Belarus currently constitute the second largest migrant group in Poland and since August 2020 significant increase in migration from the neighbour country has been noticed. 

The necessity to improve visa procedures is related to an ongoing work on migration policy.  Among problems that tend to be covered by new policy are uncertainties of demographic situation in Poland and challenges how to secure economic growth and stability on the labour market. According to the information from the Office for Foreigners, economic reasons and employment remain to be main pull factors for immigration. The recent statistics show that in 2020, 67% of temporary residence permits (among all types of issued residence permits) were related to the employment of the applicant. The major group of migrants economically active on the Polish labour market are Ukrainians. The second largest group constitute Belarusians.

Kseniya Homel 
NIEM’s researcher 
The European and Migration Policy Programme
Institute of Public Affairs


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