On December 14, 2022, the Parlament of the Republic of Poland passed an act amending the act on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with the armed conflict in that country and certain other acts, which provides for many unfavorable changes in the legal situation of Ukrainian citizens covered by the Special Act. We directed our comments on the draft of this amendment already at the stage of government work and in the Parlament.
The Parlament quickly adopted the act in practically the same shape as it had been presented to it. The main problems we fought to change, unfortunately, remained enacted in the amendment, including:
1. Withdrawal of the possibility for Ukrainian citizens to apply for a temporary residence permit for 3 years in a simplified procedure, without the need to document the specific purpose of stay and the possibility of living in Poland (Article 1 point 17 of the amendment).
2. Introduction of fees for the use of assistance in the field of accommodation and food by Ukrainian citizens in the amount of 50% (not more than PLN 40 per day) after 120 days from arrival in Poland, and after 180 days – in the amount of 75% (not more than PLN 60 PLN per day) (Article 1 point 8 letter b of the amendment).
3. Repeal of the provisions extending the legality of stay and the validity of residence documents of all foreigners (not only citizens of Ukraine) for the duration of the state of epidemic or epidemiological threat in Poland (Article 17 of the amendment). However, the entry into force of this regulation has been set for August 24, 2023.
However, the adopted amendment provides for the possibility for citizens of Ukraine falling within the scope of the Special Act to apply for a temporary residence and work permit. In the current legal status, this is not possible due to the fact that the stay under the Special Act is understood as the use of temporary protection, and in this case the possibility of applying for a temporary residence permit is excluded. In our comments to the Senate, however, we propose to extend the catalog of persons entitled to apply for this permit to include minor children and spouses of foreigners residing in Poland on the basis of a temporary residence permit. The solution adopted by the Sejm will lead to a situation in which a parent or spouse of a Ukrainian citizen is or will be entitled to obtain a temporary residence permit for a period of up to 3 years, but the legal stay of his child or spouse will expire with the end of the Special Act. This will result in the necessity to return the foreigner with the child or spouse to Ukraine, and thus prevent the actual use of the granted permit, or lead to the need to separate the family.
The Amendment also unifies the deadline for extending the validity of the grounds for legal stay in Poland (e.g. visa, temporary residence permit, visa-free travel) and residence documents of Ukrainian citizens, which in all cases ends on August 24, 2023 (Article 1 point 20 letters a-c of the amendment). The relevant provisions in this regard are to enter into force retroactively from 1 January 2023.