What is the legal situation of people who, at the outbreak of war, were staying outside Ukraine and instead of returning to a country at war, they came to Poland? If they did not “flee Ukraine” are they covered by any protection?

Update: 16.06.2023

According to the content of the Act on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine, the stay of a citizen of Ukraine in Poland is considered legal for a period of 18 months counting from 24 February 2022, if the citizen of Ukraine, in the period from 24 February 2022, came to Poland legally from the territory of Ukraine due to military operations conducted there and declares his/her intention to stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland. 

The legislation directly implies the obligation of coming from the territory of Ukraine – directly or through other countries. However, reading the provisions of the Act literally, it should be recognized that legal residence in Poland for a period of 18 months will not apply to Ukrainian citizens who have travelled after 24 February 2022 to Poland, but not from the territory of Ukraine (either directly or indirectly).