The Polish government is drafting changes to the Special Act on assistance to citizens of Ukraine in connection with the armed conflict on the territory of that country  of 12th March 2022. Some of the proposed changes are for the better while others are questionable.

The draft version of the changes:

  • extending the range of people who can benefit from the Special Act BUT beneficiaries are to not include parents of minors from Ukraine who are themselves not Ukrainian citizens. This could lead to peculiar situations where the mother of a Ukrainian child born and raised in Ukraine who is herself Belarusian or Russian is subject to different legal rules than her child after fleeing to Poland;
  • introducing a requirement to confirm one’s identity using a valid travel document – this might make it impossible for people who do not have such a document or are incapable of acquiring it to benefit from the Special Act;
  • making access to some benefits (financial aid) dependent on the child receiving education in line with the Polish educational system. Children benefitting from the Special Act were allowed to receive education within the Ukrainian educational system remotely. If the planned amendment of the Act comes into force, it will result in unequal treatment of children whose legal situation is the same, i.e. children benefitting from the Special Act will be divided into those studying under the Polish educational system and those under the Ukrainian educational system;
  • according to the draft amendment, it will be possible for Ukrainian citizens benefitting from temporary protection in Poland to receive a temporary residence permit which is great news in and of itself BUT this will only be possible for people who, as of 4th March 2024, had UKR Status. Some people who fled the war in Ukraine did not have UKR Status as of 4th March 2024. It would be more reasonable to make it possible for Ukrainian people to exchange their temporary protection for a temporary residence permit based on them having spent a certain amount of time in Poland rather than introducing criteria based on a specific date.

Another proposed change is the withdrawal of the financial benefit for board and accommodation provided to refugees from Ukraine (known as 40+).

The draft amendment is quite extensive and still subject to change. We hope that the government will not pass regulations which might lead to unequal treatment of people benefitting from the Special Act.

Our comments, which we presented in the course of our consultations at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration (MSWiA), and submitted to the Polish government can be found HERE.