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The validity of stay during the COVID-19 pandemic: solutions implemented by Poland, Hungary and Slovakia

During the COVID-19 pandemic national states elaborated legal solutions to extend the validity of residents’ permits, identity and travel documents. Nevertheless, the research team noticed  significant differences in approaches of national stakeholders to different statuses of migrants  (for example, asylum seekers) and beneficiaries of international protection. 

In  Poland, people who submitted application for intentional protection were not included in the first versions of the legislative package, the so-called “Anti-crisis shield”. The first document was introduced on 18 March 2020 and it was extending the validity of residence documents until the “end of the 30th day following the date of cancellation of the last state (state of epidemic emergency or state of epidemic). Only on 7 April 2020, the Council of Ministers amended the “Anti-crisis shield” providing the extension of temporary identity certificates (pl. Tymczasowe Zaświadczenie Tożsamości Cudzoziemca, TZTC) - documents issued to people applying for international protection.

In Hungary, the government decided to extend the validity of identity, travel and other documents, including residence documents issued to foreigners. The extension of the validity of the documents issued by state authorities was relevant for beneficiaries of international protection concerning their ID cards, driving licenses, social security cards and travel documents (the documents remained valid only in the territory of Hungary). According to information from NGO experts assisting the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, there was a difference between the rules adopted in the spring of 2020 (during the first wave of the pandemic) and in the autumn of 2020 (during the second/third wave). In the first wave, the validity of ID cards, driving licenses, etc. was extended to the 180th day following the termination of the “state of danger”, but the authorities were reluctant to apply this rule to beneficiaries of international protection as the legislation mentioned Hungarian nationals only . During the second wave, these documents remained valid until the 60th day following the termination of the “state of danger” and the legislation referred to “official documents valid in the territory of Hungary issued by Hungarian authorities” without specifying the persons to whom the documents were issued. 

In comparison to the countries mentioned above,  Slovakia ensures less favourable conditions to people who possess  temporary residence based on granted subsidiary protection not extending the validity of the residence permits. According to  the national law (Act. Nr.73/2020 Coll), the validity of a permit for temporary residence, permanent residence or tolerated stay that would otherwise expire during a situation of emergency, state of emergency or state of exception declared in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, or that would expire within one month of lifting of the crisis situation, shall be extended until expiration of two months after the lifting of the crisis situation.  These provisions, however, are not applicable for temporary residence based on granted subsidiary protection. Those with subsidiary protection have to apply for prolongation of subsidiary protection within the time limits as set in the Act on Asylum. 

More information is available in the report: The impact of coronavirus country measures on asylum and reception systems in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland