On 23 March 2023, the act amending the Act on Foreigners was published in the Journal of Laws. The amendments are primarily aimed at adapting Polish law to two regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU):
- Regulation (EU) 2018/1860 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 November 2018 on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals;
- Regulation (EU) 2018/1861 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 November 2018 on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System in the field of border checks, and amending the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, and amending and repealing Regulation (EC) No. 1987/2006.
Both regulations are linked to the Schengen Information System (SIS).
The first regulation relates to the exchange of information on return decisions issued to third-country nationals who are illegally staying in the Schengen Area and the efficient monitoring of whether third-country nationals subject to return decisions have actually left the Schengen Area.
The second regulation sets out the procedure for entering information on the refusal of entry and stay in the SIS to improve consultation between Schengen Area countries. This concerns, in particular, situations where a third-country national holds, or is in a position to obtain, a valid residence permit or long-stay visa granted in one Schengen Area country and another Schengen Area Country intends to enter or has already entered an alert in the SIS concerning a refusal of entry and stay. The effect of these changes is to streamline procedures for people entitled to enter the Schengen Area and to effectively prevent the entry of third-country nationals who do not have the required permits and documents.
In addition, the amendments introduce significant changes for foreigners wishing to obtain a Polish travel document in Poland. To date, such documents could only be issued to unaccompanied foreign minors in Poland, to foreigners without citizenships, and to foreigners with a certificate confirming that they have been a victim of human trafficking.
A temporary and simplified procedure is to be introduced andwill apply to nationals of the countries specified in a decree of the minister responsible for internal affairs, which is likely to indicate, among others, citizens of Belarus. Under this procedure, it will also be necessary for the foreigner:
- to meet the deadline for applying for the travel document, and
- to have an appropriate residence permit or to be staying in Poland for humanitarian reasons.
There will also be an important facilitation for Ukrainian citizens residing in Poland on the basis of the Act on Assistance to Ukrainian Citizens. As a result of the amendment, they will also be able to download the Diia.pl electronic residence permits for their children.
In addition, the amendment will transfer some of the competences hitherto held by the Head of the Office for Foreigners to the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard, as a higher authority in relation to commanders of branches and posts of the Border Guard. Above all, this concerns decisions on the deadline for voluntary entry into Schengen Area, the prohibition of voluntary entry into Schengen Area or consents related to tolerated stay and stay for humanitarian reasons. According to the legislator, the transfer of these competences is expected to have a positive impact on the existing workload of the Offices for Foreigners and their handling of other residence cases.
The amendment will enter into force on 6 April 2023. However, this is not the end of the changes concerning immigration processes in Poland. A bill on the employment of foreigners has also been published on the website of the Government Legislation Centre.
We invite you to follow our blog, where information on upcoming changes to the legalisation of the employment of foreigners will soon appear.
Justyna Helbing, Paralegal