New employee card merges residence and work permit

The long-awaited amendment to the Act on the Stay of Foreigners (Act No. 326/1999 Coll.) comes into effect on June 24th. It introduces an entirely new concept of  “employee cards”. The amendment will impact all foreigners from outside of the EU working in the Czech Republic.

The employee card is defined by the amendment as a permit for a long-term stay that authorises its holder for a temporary stay in the Czech Republic for more than 3 months for employment purposes. It will completely replace long-term visas and employment residence permits.

All about the Employee Card at the official Immigration Portal.

The employee card will have two forms – dual and non-dual residence permit.

1) The dual employee card, which will combine the work permit and residence permit in one authorisation, will be obtained by foreigners who conclude a local employment contract with a Czech employer. That means most of the foreigners from third countries (outside of the EU) working here will no longer have two documents (residence permit and work permit) – but only one.

2) If foreigners are sent by a foreign entity, e.g. a mother company, to work in the Czech Republic or complete tasks resulting from the activities of the corporate entity performed by the owner, statutory body or its member, foreigners will still have to apply for a work permit at the relevant labour office. Subsequently, the issued work permit will have to be appended to the application for the employee card, which, however, will have the non-dual form in this case (i.e. only the residence permit). In the same manner, as it has been until now.

The non-dual employee card will be issued to all foreigners who have free access to the labour market according to the Employment Act and don’t need a work permit. (Those are for example foreigners who graduated from a high school, college or university in the Czech Republic, those who are seconded to the Czech Republic to provide services by an employer residing in another EU member state, family members of EU citizens, and newly also family members from countries outside of the EU who reside in the Czech Republic based on a long-term residence permit to live together with a foreigner residing in the Czech Republic based on a long-term residence permit.)

The documents necessary for applying for the employee card remain the same as for the work permit and long-term residence. The exception is the obligation to provide employment contracts (or contracts for future contracts), containing provisions that indicate monthly salary of a foreigner not being lower than the basic rate of monthly minimum salary and weekly working hours not being less than 15 hours, regardless of the scope of work.

The contract concluded between the applicant and employer will determine the period of validity of the employee card. It may be issued for no more than 2 years. The effective period of employee cards of seconded employees is governed by the period of validity of the work permit.

The requirement for the recognition of education documents is newly mentioned directly in the text of the act; however, an original diploma issued by foreign academic institutions should suffice. The authorities should only require recognition (“nostrification”) of a diploma from a Czech academic institution in rare cases. As identified by the Ministry of Interior, this should apply only in cases when the officials have doubts as to whether the diploma is authentic or not.

Before the application for the employee card is submitted, the vacancy has to be announced by the employer at the relevant labour office. After 30 days after the announcement, the job gets registered in the central registry of vacancies. The first application is filled by a foreigner at a Czech embassy abroad; if the foreigner already legally resides in the Czech Republic, it is filled at the relevant Asylum and Migration Policy Department of the Czech Ministry of the Interior.

When the employee card is extended, the vacancy is no longer announced. The Ministry of Interior requests the opinion of the labour office regarding the question whether the vacancy can continue to be filled by a foreigner with regard to the state of the labour market.

This amendment will amend the current Employment Act (Act No. 435/2004 Coll.) which defines the issuance of work permits. The amendment defines the categories of foreigners who will not need the work permit, e.g. foreigners with permanent residency status in another EU member state or foreigners seconded by their employers for an increase of their qualifications, if this secondment does not exceed 6 months.

The green cards will be completely cancelled as redundant after the introduction of employee cards. The already-issued green cards will continue to be effective until their expiration date and subsequently will be replaced by employee cards. The blue cards remain in effect.

As part of the transitory provisions, the applications already filed in accordance with existing legislation will be completed under the same regime.

The amendment does not cancel work permits issued or long-term visas and long-term stays. The moment these permits expire, they will be replaced by the employee cards as part of the extension proceedings. The amendment does not apply to permanent residence permits or temporary residence permits.

About the author

Tomáš Petyovský is an attorney-at-law who works for Deloitte Czech Republic as the Manager of the Brno Immigration Team. He specialises mainly in employee, labour and immigration law, benefiting from his long-term experience in providing immigration services (in particular arranging work permits, visas, residence permits, and citizenship, acting as a lawyer in appellate procedures, etc).