What’s new with immigration policy in Eastern Europe?

immigration policy in eastern europe, Ius Laboris
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In the third of a series of articles exposing changes to global mobility and immigration policy in Eastern Europe, member firms of Ius Laboris examine the developments

They focus this time on the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Russia: how these countries create a system of immigration policy in Eastern Europe.

Czech Republic

Transposition of EU Directive 2016/801 and other legislative changes

A new Act (Act No. 176/2019 Coll, effective as of 31 July 2019, with exceptions), primarily aimed at transposition of Directive (EU) 2016/801, introduces a visa-free regime for researchers and students, with special residence permits allowing them to temporarily stay in the Czech Republic for the purposes of job searching or entrepreneurship. It also allows free access to the labour market for family members of researchers (under certain conditions).

The Act also introduces extraordinary work visas (issued in cases of labour shortages), the possibility of setting quotas on permits issued annually, an obligation for certain foreign nationals to complete integration courses, and an obligation for foreign employers to notify any postings of their workers to the Czech Republic.


Refusing to issue a residence permit to the registered same-sex partner of an Estonian citizen is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Estonia declared on 21 June 2019 (resolution No. 5-18-5) that the part of the Aliens Act that precludes granting temporary residence permits to same-sex registered partners of Estonian citizens to live their family life in Estonia is invalid and unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court stated that the current Aliens Act treats foreigners differently by allowing residence permits for same sex spouses of Estonian citizens but precluding the grant of a residence permit to a registered partner.

Since the foreign national cannot settle in Estonia without a residence permit the part of the Aliens Act, which does not allow the grant of a permit to registered partners disproportionately infringes the fundamental family rights of both the applicant for a residence permit and his or her Estonian partner. Although a registered same sex partner of an Estonian citizen can apply for a residence permit on another basis (for example to work), this does not give the person sufficient assurance that he or she will be able to live family life in Estonia.

The Supreme Court found that based on the principles of human dignity and equal treatment guaranteed by the Estonian Constitution, the fundamental right to a family life extends to the right of same-sex partners to live in Estonia as a family.


Social security number for EU citizens

The General Directorate of Social Security of the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity has provided further guidance on the assignment of a social security number (ΑΜΚΑ) to EU citizens who enter Greece for work, as employees or self-employed, and who have not completed a three-month stay in the country (in document No. 80320 / no.33830 / D18.2227 / 29-07-2019).

For employees, in order to qualify for social security, an employer’s certificate confirming the employment of a citizen of an EU member state is required.

For the self-employed, the company statute or the tax office business commencement certificate is required.

General regulation on the operation of Reception and Identification Centres for migrants
A Joint Ministerial Decision, entitled ‘General Regulation on the Operation of Reception and Identification Centres’ (1/7433 ΦΕΚ Β΄2219/10.06.2019) has been adopted.

The purpose of this General Regulation is to regulate the internal structure and operation of Reception and Identification Centres and Mobile Reception and Identification Units. In particular, the procedures for receiving third-country nationals and stateless persons and identifying their rights and obligations are detailed, as well as the general rules for temporary residence in Reception and Identification Centres.

Changes to documentation and conditions for intra-corporate transfers

A new law aimed at harmonising Greek law with EU Directive 2014/66 has come into force (L. 4540/2018, as amended by A.62 L. 4609/2019 with effect from 3 May 2019), supplemented by the provisions of law L. 4251/2014.

The purpose of the Directive is to make it easier for companies to post employees within Europe and to reduce bureaucracy in several member states. The new Greek law covers third-country nationals (non-EU) who apply to enter a member state under an intra-corporate transfer as managers, specialists or trainees. The law sets out what documents are required for short-term and long-term placements, the grounds for rejection and withdrawal of the application, how long an intra-corporate transfer can last and how long the permit will be valid for.


Immigration and Refuge Office becomes the National Directorate of Immigration

The name of the Immigration and Refuge Office has been changed to the National Directorate of Immigration from 1 July 2019 and as a law enforcement body it continues to operate as part of the police (126/2019 (V.30.) Government Decree).

The Hungarian Government extends the immigration ‘crisis’ status for another six months

The Hungarian Government has extended the so-called ‘crisis situation caused by immigration’ for another six months. This status was originally announced in March 2016 for a period of six months.

Following this amendment (contained in Government Decree 217/2019 (IX.5.)), the crisis situation caused by the immigration has now existed in Hungary for three and a half years.

In a so-called ‘crisis situation’, extraordinary administrative arrangements can be applied with regard to the migrants specified in Law No LXXX of 2007 on the right to asylum.


Polish public administration not ready to handle growing number of foreign migrants

Results of the recent audit of the immigration offices in Poland run by the Polish Audit Office (NIK) show that the Polish public administration is unable to handle the rapidly growing number of foreign nationals migrating to Poland. Average processing times have increased more than threefold over the last four years, to 206 days. In extreme cases, some foreign nationals waited for more than three years for a residence permit decision. The government is now reviewing the audit report to propose actions aimed at improving immigration policy in Eastern Europe.


New forms of migration reports and applications

As of 9 September 2019, companies must use new forms of the migration reports and applications for their submissions to the migration authorities for hiring foreign nationals.

The new forms were approved by an Order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The following obligatory reporting forms are being changed, namely:

• quarterly notification on salary payments to highly qualified foreign specialists;
• notification of the conclusion or termination of employment contract or service contract with a foreign national.

All reports submitted after 9 September 2019, should be prepared using the new forms. Failure to use the correct form of notification may entail an administrative fine of up to RUB 1,000,000 or the administrative suspension of a company’s activity for up to 90 days.

A new form is also being introduced for the application that must be made on the engagement of a highly qualified foreign specialist.

Notifications and applications submitted before 9 September 2019 using the old forms will be valid and re-submission using the new forms is not required.

Contributing members to this article include:

Ondřej Chlada of Randl Partners in the Czech Republic
Karina Paatsi of COBALT Law firm in Estonia
Katerina Papastergiou, Evaggelia Patsialou and Fani Batsila of Kremalis Law Firm in Greece
Henrietta Hanyu of CLV Partners in Hungry
Karolina Schiffter and Kinga Polewka of Raczkowski Paruch in Poland
Irina Anyukhinaand Margarita Egiazarova of ALRUD Law Firm in Russia.


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