On June 8, 2022, another law was enacted amending the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine, as well as certain provisions of other laws affecting the situation of persons who have come to Poland in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. The most important of these amendments are presented below.
LEGAL WORK FOR A CITIZEN OF UKRAINE
The latest amendment introduces two requirements that must be met in order for the work of a Ukrainian citizen legally residing in Poland to be performed legally.
Besides the need for the employer to notify the District Labour Office of the employment of a Ukrainian citizen, the work must be performed at a work volume not lower than that indicated in the notification and at a wage not lower than that set at the rate specified in the notification.
This is complemented by the requirement to include this information, i.e. wages set at a monthly or hourly rate and working hours or the number of working hours per week or month, in the notification.
Notifications made before the date of entry into force of the above Act shall be subject to the existing provisions (Article 9 of the amending Act).
An entity entrusting work to a Ukrainian citizen who did not comply with the obligation to notify the Labour Office between 24.02.22 and 14 days before the date of entry into force of the amending law may do so within 14 days from the date of its entry into force. In this case, the Ukrainian citizen is deemed to have been entitled to work during the period of his/her coverage under social insurance or social insurance for farmers or on the day following the date of notification of the specific task contract. The above entitlement can only be exercised by an entity that has reported the foreigner to the Social Insurance Institution or the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund in connection with the assignment of work to the foreigner. (Article 10 of the amending Act)
THE RIGHT OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY INSTITUTION TO SUMMON THE FOREIGNER TO APPEAR IN PERSON FOR EXPLANATIONS
An important amendment is also the authorisation for the Social Insurance Institution and other bodies competent for benefits (….) to summon applicants and those already in receipt of benefits to appear in person at the seat of the body to provide explanations. The regulations specified a permissible time limit for such a summons of three days.
The consequences of failing to appear by the deadline are that the application is left unprocessed (for those claiming benefits) or that the benefit is withheld (for those already receiving benefits).
If the person summoned appears at the authority’s premises after the deadline, the benefits shall be paid from the month following the month in which the explanation was provided.
(This is detailed in Article 1(13)(b) of the amending Act.)
CONSEQUENCES OF LEAVING POLAND FOR MORE THAN 1 MONTH – UKR STATUS
The amendment also provides for provisions clarifying the practical consequences of departure from Poland for more than 1 month by persons covered by the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine.
When the Chief Commandant of the Border Guard provides information on the departure of a foreigner covered by the Act for a period of more than 1 month, the status “UKR” assigned to the assigned PESEL number is automatically changed to the status “NUE”, i.e. the status of a foreigner who is neither a citizen of a European Union Member State nor a family member of an EU citizen. The change of status will therefore formally make visible the practical loss of the entitlements arising from the inclusion in the Special-purpose Act.
This revision will also be made when information is provided that a Ukrainian citizen is in possession of exclusionary documents from the scope of the Act (residence permit, international protection, etc.) or that an application for international protection has been submitted.
However, the UKR status can be restored if the person to whom the PESEL number was assigned confirms that his/her residency outside Poland did not last longer than 1 month.
If the foreigner’s departure is within the Schengen area, then a change of status may take place on the basis of a declaration after departure for a period of more than one month, made by the person to whom the PESEL number has been assigned or the person representing him/her. This solution seems to make it possible to practically waive temporary protection in Poland for persons who, having obtained a PESEL number in Poland (with the UKR designation), would like to make use of this protection in another EU country.
The above statement should include: name, surname, PESEL number, country and date of departure, type of departure and a statement of the veracity of the data contained in the application and a clause stating: “I am aware of the criminal responsibility for making a false statement”.
In the case of departure from Poland across the external borders of the Schengen area, the change of UKR status may also take place on the basis of the above statement. In such a case, the Chief Commander of the Border Guard provides the possibility to verify the date of departure.
The legislation also provides for the possibility of re-establishing UKR status as a result of arrival on the territory of the Republic of Poland from the territory of Ukraine in connection with hostilities conducted on the territory of that country. This entry should then be documented or registered in the register of Ukrainian nationals who arrived on the territory of the Republic of Poland from the territory of Ukraine in connection with military operations conducted on the territory of that country, kept by the Chief Commander of the Border Guard.
If this entry has occurred across the Polish border, which is the external border of the Schengen area, the re-establishment of UKR status is automatic.
Re-assignment of status can also occur as a result of a renewed application for a PESEL number.
The authority competent to register the above data is any municipal executive.
Concerning the loss of entitlements under the Act as a result of departure from Poland for a period of more than 1 month, it is also specified that this provision will not apply to persons directed to perform work or services outside the Republic of Poland by entities operating in the territory of the Republic of Poland.
Furthermore, it was indicated that data on the departure of a person covered by the Act for a period of more than 1 month will be transmitted by the Chief Commander of the Border Guard to the Social Insurance Institution determining the foreigner’s entitlement to benefits. (Article 1(13)(b) of the amending Act)
(This is detailed in Article 1(4)(b) and (6) of the amending Act)
MONETARY ALLOWANCE FOR THE PROVISION OF ACCOMMODATION TO A CITIZEN OF UKRAINE
The amendment specifies the deadline for submitting an application for the above cash benefit. This application must be submitted within one month of the last day of the period covered by the application. Submission of the application after the deadline will result in it being left unprocessed.
Applications covering the time period up to the date of entry into force of the amending Act must be submitted by July 31, 2022. However, applications covering a period prior to April 30, 2022 may be submitted within 14 days of the date of entry into force of the amending Act, on the form in force prior to April 30, 2022.
Failure to comply with the above deadlines is to result in the application being left unprocessed. (Article 1(9) and Article 8 of the amending Act)
IMPORTANT AMENDMENTS TO THE ACT ON FOREIGNERS
EXCLUSION OF THE APPLICATION OF THE PROVISIONS ON THE OBLIGATION TO LEAVE THE TERRITORY OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND AND THE OBLIGATION TO RETURN IN SITUATIONS WHERE THE FOREIGNER’S ENTITLEMENT TO LEGAL RESIDENCE ON THE TERRITORY OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND IS ALSO BASED ON ACTS OTHER THAN THE ACT ON FOREIGNERS
The first specifies the obligation to leave the territory of the Republic of Poland before the expiry of the visa validity period, following a decision to refuse a residence permit or international protection. Article 299(8) of the Act on Foreigners stipulates that this provision shall not apply in a situation where the foreigner holds a valid document authorising him/her to stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland or where it follows from this Act that his/her stay in that territory is considered legal. The above amendment establishes that the entitlement to legal residence precluding the application of this provision may also arise from other laws, so, for example, the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine. The same change has been introduced in Article 302(3), i.e. the decision on the obligation to return shall not be issued if the foreigner holds a valid document entitling him/her to reside on the territory of the Republic of Poland or it results from this Act or other Acts that his/her stay on that territory is considered legal. (Article 5(4) and (5) of the amending Act)
ACCEPTANCE OF CERTAIN VISA APPLICATIONS OUTSIDE THE QUEUE
The new regulations grant the Minister in charge of foreign affairs the possibility to determine the professions, types of contracts or activities of the entity entrusting work to a foreigner, for which applications for visas to perform work will be accepted out of turn. The Minister responsible for foreign affairs also has the possibility to determine the countries from which applications for work visas will be accepted outside the queue. (Article 5(1) of the amending Act)
FREE POLISH LANGUAGE TUITION FOR PERSONS SUBJECT TO COMPULSORY EDUCATION
The Act amends the Act of December 14, 2016 – Education Law, granting the entitlement to receive free Polish language education to persons subject to compulsory education who are not citizens of the Republic of Poland and who do not speak Polish or do not speak it sufficiently to benefit from the education, for a maximum period of 24 months. (Article 7(1) of the amending Act)