On 8 April, the Sejm (Polish Parliament) adopted further amendments concerning the Act of 12 March 2022 on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine in connection with Armed Conflict in the Territory of the State ( Journal of Laws, item 583, as amended), as well as some other laws. The most significant amendments are set out below.
- Amendments concerning the assignment of PESEL number to persons covered by the Act of 12 March 2022 on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine in connection with the Armed Conflict on the Territory of the State:
– the deadline for persons whose entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland has not been registered to apply for a PESEL number has been extended to 90 days;
– the troublesome issue of persons who are covered by the Special-purpose Act and who were assigned a PESEL number before the Act entered into force has been resolved. At the request of such a person, their data in the PESEL register will be supplemented accordingly;
– the fact that the PESEL number has been assigned under the Special-purpose Act will be disclosed in the PESEL register by the designation UKR;
– disabled persons who are unable to present themselves in person at the municipal office shall be provided with the opportunity to make an application at their place of residence;
– a PESEL number can be assigned ex officio to persons who do not have full legal capacity and do not have a nominated legal guardian.
The new legislation also resolves the situation when temporary protection certificates were previously issued to persons who, under the current legal status, are covered by the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine. This may apply, for example, to persons who have arrived from the territory of Ukraine via the territory of another country. Such a certificate becomes invalid and the person will be informed that it must be returned to the Office for Foreigners.
- Amendments to the benefits granted to persons who have provided accommodation and food to persons fleeing Ukraine
The wording has been added to the existing provision to the effect that the provision of accommodation and meals should be at “own expense”. Also, it was specified that the maximum period of 60 days for which a benefit may be granted is calculated from the date of arrival of the Ukrainian citizen on the territory of Poland.
Furthermore, the entitlement of a person who has applied for such a benefit to initiate legal action against the municipality competent to recognise it has been stipulated. This means that possible disputes over the payment of such benefits will be able to be resolved in court.
- Concerning the work of the Ukrainian citizen on the territory of the Republic of Poland
The Act specifies that the obligation to report the fact of employment of a Ukrainian citizen by an employer does not apply when this citizen legally performs work based on the provisions of Article 87 of the Act on Employment Promotion, i.e. for example on the basis of a work permit, an appropriate temporary residence permit, is allowed to work simply because he/she has the refugee status in Poland, etc.
Additionally, an employer who did not fulfil the obligation to report the fact of employing a Ukrainian citizen will not be threatened with legal consequences specified in Article 120(2) of the Act of 20 April 2004 on Employment Promotion and Market Institutions, i.e. a fine.
There is also a possibility to employ Ukrainian citizens legally residing in Poland in auxiliary and service positions in local government units, without the need to confirm their knowledge of the Polish language by means of previously required documents.
In addition, citizens of Ukraine who have a degree in psychology (a diploma of completion of uniform or first and second degree studies) and are legally residing in Poland will be able to provide health care services in the field of psychiatric care and addiction treatment to citizens of Ukraine within 18 months from 24 February 2022.
- Amendments in the area of benefits for persons with temporary protection
Under the latest amendments, assistance provided by the Head of the Office for Foreigners to persons covered by temporary protection will be limited to providing accommodation and learning the Polish language and basic materials necessary to learn this language and teaching aids, where the monthly income per person exceeds the income justifying the use of social welfare assistance. Currently, the amount is PLN 776 for a person living alone and PLN 660 per person for a person living with a family.
Persons under temporary protection will not be able to benefit from health care services provided by the Head of the Office for Foreigners if they are entitled to publicly funded health care services due to their employment.
Moreover, persons who receive a certificate of temporary protection will not receive an individual Letter of Rights and Obligations. Such an instruction will be available on the website of the Office for Foreigners.
It was also specified that if a person to whom the aforementioned certificate was issued is transferred to another Member State pursuant to art. 177b of the Act of 13 June 2003 on Granting Protection to Foreigners on the Territory of the Republic of Poland (i.e. Journal of Laws of 2021, item 1108, as amended), the certificate ceases to be valid.
The amendment also specifies the benefits to which assisted persons are entitled in the form of accommodation and board. These are:
1) permanent cash assistance for the purchase of cleaning and personal hygiene products, or cleaning and personal hygiene products;
2) assistance in the form of learning Polish and basic materials necessary to learn this language;
3) teaching aids for children receiving education and care in public establishments, primary or secondary schools;
4) funding for public transport trips:
a) for medical treatment or vaccination,
b) in other particularly justified cases.
- Suspension until 31 December 2022 of the deadline for the authorities to handle cases in proceedings concerning temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits and long-term resident permits
This means that the authorities will not be bound by the existing administrative deadlines, e.g. 60 days to issue a decision on granting a temporary residence permit. Nor will they be obliged to inform the party of the failure to issue a decision in time or of the reason for the delay. The inactivity of an authority during that period is not intended to entitle a party to bring an action for a declaration that the authority has failed to act or that the procedure is protracted.
- Amendments to the Act on Granting Protection to Foreigners on the Territory of the Republic of Poland of 13 June 2003
The introduced amendments legitimise the previous practice, criticised by NGOs, including the SIP, of not interviewing the applicant in the procedure for granting international protection if he/she has lodged a subsequent application.
- Amendments to the Act of 12 December 2013 on Foreigners
- Amendments have been made to allow people to obtain a visa while staying in Poland. The Minister of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for issuing these visas. Implementing regulations are to be issued on the basis of the new provisions. The following will be specified: countries whose citizens will be able to use this procedure, deadlines for submitting an application for a visa, additional conditions to be met by a person applying for a visa in the territory of the Republic of Poland.
- Residence in Poland on the basis of a humanitarian visa will be the basis for granting a temporary residence permit due to the so-called other circumstances. Implementing provisions are to specify the countries whose citizens will be affected by this regulation.
- The Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard will be able to provide assistance in maintaining and reintegrating foreigners who have returned to the country when they have been assisted in their voluntary return; they have left the territory of the Republic of Poland within the period of voluntary departure specified in the decision on the foreigner’s obligation to return or when the decision has been compulsorily executed. Reintegration assistance will be provided at the request of the foreigner. This means that persons in one of the above situations will be able to receive assistance (e.g. financial) to help them restart their lives in the country they are returning to. The extent and form of this assistance has not yet been determined.
- Amendments to the so-called Anti-Covid Shield
The provision on the basis of which, until now, persons in respect of whom the procedure for granting international protection was terminated during an epidemic state were still receiving social assistance connected with that procedure, has been repealed.
The provision stipulating the suspension of the execution of evictions during a state of epidemic/threat of epidemic has also been repealed.