CZECH REPUBLIC - Multiple Visa Extensions Necessary Due to Biometric Residence Permit Delays
Foreign nationals working and residing in the Czech Republic are being required to make multiple visa extension applications after a delay in the introduction of biometric residence permits. Visa extensions are being granted in increments of up to six months only, pending the issuance of the new residence permits. Since personal appearance is required to submit new visa extension applications, this is causing significant trouble for foreign national assignees in the Czech Republic.
Why is the Czech Republic Introducing Biometric Residence Permits?
The move to introduce residence permits with a biometric component (in this case, a biometric photograph and a chip containing fingerprint details) is the result of a European Union (EU) regulation. All European Union member states were required to implement biometric residence permits by 1 May 2011 and most are on the way to doing this; however, many have experienced delays. EC regulations 1030/2002 and 380/2008. The biometric residence permits are supposed to be more secure than previous documents, plus must be issued in a uniform format across the EU.
What's Causing The Problems?
The equipment for the new residence permits is not yet ready, and so the Czech Ministry of the Interior is not yet in a position to issue new permits. However, an internal deadline of June 2012 has been imposed, by which time the new residence permits should be available. In an attempt to prevent a dual system where some foreign nationals hold visas and some the new residence permits, the Czech authorities have decided to issue visa extensions in increments of up to six months only (or the validity of the work permit, whichever is shorter) - so that the holders of the visas are required to apply for the new residence permits sooner rather than later.
Holders of the six month visas have been advised that they should submit their biometric data no later than two months prior to expiry of the current visa. The issue is that there is currently no mechanism in place for submitting biometric data and it is debatable whether the equipment will be ready in time or not. If not, it is likely that further extensions of six months will be issued.
Rule Changes in January Adding To The Issue
The problem is further compounded by the fact that, since 1 January 2011, long term D visas for the Czech Republic have been issued with validity of six months only (previously, such visas were valid for one year).
Timing visa extensions and work permit renewals has thus become a challenging puzzle. For example, a foreign national with a work permit valid from January 1 to December 31, and an initial long term visa valid from 1 February to 1 August will need to apply for a visa extension from 2 August. However, since there are only five months between August and December, and since a work permit renewal cannot be processed so far in advance, the visa extension will only be granted for five months - meaning that yet another visa extension, with personal appearance, will be required just two or three months later, once the work permit is renewed.
A Reminder of Additional January Changes
Further changes in January 2011 included the following:
- The issuing authority for visas and residence permits was changed from the Foreign Police to the Ministry of the Interior
- The medical insurance requirement for long term D visa applications increased to EUR60,0000 (from EUR 30,000)
- Medical insurance policies are now required to specifically state that they will pay out even if the holder has been injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or has self-harmed.
- Personal appearance by the applicant is now required both for the visa application, and for registering the visa and submitting visa extensions once in the Czech Republic.
- Note that visa extensions are being granted in increments of up to six months only, or the validity of the work permit, whichever is shorter, Thus, careful planning is required to minimise the amount of applications necessary
- Biometric residence permits should be introduced in the coming months and by June 2012 at the latest; Peregrine will keep you updated.