Yesterday, i.e. on March 3, 2022, a draft law was released to regulate the situation of people fleeing from Ukraine.
The act covers many important issues, such as legalization of stay, access to medical care and facilitation of legal work performance. Many solutions contained in it should be assessed positively. The draft, however, has significant gaps that should be corrected at the stage of proceedings in the Parliament. Together with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, we presented comments on the project
1. Regarding the situation of third-country nationals who are also fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, we call for:
– to regulate the stay of third-country nationals who are family members of Ukrainian citizens, as well as their dependents, who are their dependents and persons residing permanently in Ukraine, in the same way as citizens of Ukraine. There is no rationale for the status of family members to be governed by different laws.
– extension of the stay of third-country nationals currently residing in Poland on the basis of a 15-day consent of the Commander of the Border Guard Post after crossing the border after February 24. This will make it possible to take steps to legalize their stay in Poland for those who need it or cannot return to their country, and to organize a return trip for others.
2. We believe that it is a mistake to exclude from the scope of the Act Ukrainian citizens who have applied for international protection. This will unreasonably limit their rights to work and other benefits vis-à-vis those who have not submitted these applications. We also do not know what will be the practice of Polish authorities in the field of granting protection to Ukrainian citizens
3. We propose that persons covered by the Act should be able not only to work legally, but also to run a business in Poland.
4. We would like to draw your attention to the need to clarify the deadlines for extending visas and temporary residence permits so that persons covered by the Act are not treated worse than other foreigners legally residing in Poland and can still benefit from the extension on the basis of special provisions related to COVID-19.
5. Moreover, we believe that in any situation where the law provides for an extension of stay, the beneficiaries of such extension should be entitled to obtain a certificate confirming the validity of the visa or permit.
6. We consider it unjustified to limit the right to cross the border in relation to people staying on the basis of extended visas and permits – this solution is argued against by the situation of an armed conflict, which caused refugees to scatter across Europe, and thus an increased need to cross borders in order to connect with relatives.
7. We postulate that in a situation where a foreigner applying for a temporary residence permit is not able to present a passport (often in the case of children), it is possible to present other documents confirming the identity of such a person.
8. We propose that persons covered by the Act may apply for a Polish foreigner’s travel document.
9. We propose to introduce changes that will allow persons covered by temporary protection in Poland to apply for a temporary stay in Poland and for a long-term resident of the EU on the usual terms.