UK Citizens living in Poland look set to go through the potentially tiresome process of applying for residency permits when their country leaves the EU on March 29th.
Citizens of Austria, Italy, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Czechia, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Romania, France, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland can all be registered as legally resident in Poland in as little as a few minutes.
The same currently applies to UK nationals. However if there is a ‘No-deal Brexit’, UK citizens will need to get themselves residence permits just like all the other foreigners from outside the EU/EEA living in Poland.
If a revised version of Teresa May’s unpopular deal somehow gets passed by the House Of Commons, freedom of movement would continue until December 2020. UK nationals would nonetheless need residence permits to stay beyond that time.
Either way, the Polish Government need to decide how to deal with the issue and they published a draft bill on the subject of UK citizens’ residency rights earlier this month.
Jakub Krupa from the Polish News Agency revealed the key details of the proposals on Twitter. The draft bill states that UK Citizens officially resident in Poland at the time of Brexit will have a grace-period of 1 year (after the Brexit date) to get their Karta Pobytu (residence permit).
British citizens will also need to have their residency status confirmed ASAP as after the bill is signed the one year grace period will not apply to anyone unregistered. Applications still in progress at that time will also become void.
However, given that it is taking the best part of a year for Poland’s Regional Offices to process residence permits for ‘3rd country nationals’, UK citizens may well have to get their applications in as early as possible.
The Polish Government do plan to employ an additional 43 people to deal with the applications. Even so, with an estimated 6,000 UK citizens currently living in Poland, each new employee will likely have to deal with a large number of applications. This is estimated to cost Poland 28.5 million zł over the next 9 years.
UK nationals who have been officially resident in Poland for under 5 years will be able to apply for a 3-year Karta Pobytu. Those that have had the same status for over 5 years will be granted a 5-year residence permit after applying.
The cost of making the application is not mentioned in the draft bill. Non-EU citizens currently have to pay 390zł for their residence permits (340zł for the application + 50zł on reception of the card).
Even if UK citizens are afforded a ‘fast-track’ process to get their 1st residence permit, Jakub Krupa understands that they will have to apply for their next one on the same basis as any other non-EU country.
If that turns out to be the case, UK nationals can expect the same long wait that many of our readers from non-EU countries are all too familiar with. Crucially, it also indicates that UK nationals will not have the permanent right to stay in Poland.
There seems to be some confusion about the three year temporary permit: as I understand it, it can be extended/renewed at the end of it, under the same rules that apply to all non-EU migrants, so one can build up to five years and then get a permanent permit.
— Jakub Krupa (@JakubKrupa) January 12, 2019
Earlier this month Britain’s ambassador to Poland, Jonathon Knott, said that Poland’s Prime Minister wants to secure the rights of UK citizens living in Poland.
However, the draft bill only secures the most important rights – the right to live and work in Poland. According to Jakub Krupa, the bill does not include access to the pension system, which he says “will probably be regulated in a separate way”. Krupa also states that the right to vote in local elections is not yet confirmed in the bill either.
The draft proposals will now be discussed with various government departments, as well as organisations such as the Polish-British Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, it is not impossible that the UK’s relationship with the EU may be something other than ‘No-deal’ or ‘May’s deal’. The political situation in the UK is anything but clear and there are countless predictions about what could happen. If the situation were to change substantially and an agreement to continue freedom of movement was reached, the residence permits would not be necessary.