CZECH REPUBLIC – Extensive Changes to Work Permit Applications
On 17 August, the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs issued a new 12-page guideline #19/2012, effective immediately, which makes significant changes to the application process for new work permits and work permit extensions. Many of the changes are positive and should decrease administration and processing time. However, the new regulations are not good news for non-EEA national dependents of EEA nationals, for whom processing times prior to commencing work have been greatly extended.
New Maximum Validity of Work Permits
Work permits can now be issued for a maximum initial period of 24 months (previously the maximum initial length of the work permit was 12 months), depending on the educational level of the applicant, as follows:
- Educational level lower than secondary education: maximum initial validity of work permit up to 6 months.
- Educational level up to secondary education: maximum initial validity of work permit up to 12 months.
- Educational level up to college or higher vocational level where studies lasted at least 3 years: maximum initial validity of work permit up to 24 months.
Note that exceptions may be made on a case by case basis.
- The new regulations make it possible to apply for work permits for top level employees (International Standard Classification of Occupations, or ISCO, level 1, i.e. executives and senior managers) without the need to submit a diploma certificate as supporting evidence of skills and qualifications. Instead, a confirmation of competence form the employer may be sufficient. Normally, a legalized diploma will be required for all work permit applications.
- For ISCO level 1 where the application is supported by a diploma, nostrification (the process whereby the diploma is compared to an equivalent Czech qualification) will not be required.
- For applications for positions with an ISCO classification at level 2 or below and for which the job description, as posted with the labour office, requires higher education does not specify a certain field, the proof of equivalency from NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) should be acceptable, as opposed to requiring nostrification from a university. This distinction is important because it is our understanding that the processing times by NARIC are subject to the general guidelines for administrative proceedings, which allow 30 days for processing an application and 60 days for exceptionally complex cases. Nostrification by a university should follow the same guidelines but in practice can take much longer; for example two to three months during the summer holiday period.
Non EEA Dependents of EEA Nationals
The changes are not positive for non-European Economic Area (EEA) dependents of EEA nationals coming to the Czech Republic. The new rules make it possible for such individuals to register with the labour office only after the EU residence permit has been obtained.
Since work cannot be legally commenced until the labour office registration is complete, and since it takes two to three months to obtain the EU residence permit, this measure in practice means that non-EEA national dependents of EEA nationals must now start their immigration process two to three months in advance of starting work, as opposed to just a few days previously.
Work Permit Extensions
The new rules finally confirm that nostrificiation of diplomas is not required for work permit extensions, which is excellent news, and addresses serious concerns. The previous change, whereby nostrification became a requirement, caused major issues since the nostrification process took several months and made it practically impossible to secure work permit extensions prior to expiry date of the previous work permit.
Note, however, that applications for work permit extensions filed between 25 May and 17 August will be processed in accordance with guideline #14/2012 which means that a nostrified diploma is still required.
- Note the new maximum validity for initial issuance of work permits
- Note that nostrification of diploma will no longer be required for work permit extensions or for work permit applications where the position to be filled is at ISCO Level 1
- Note that diplomas may not be required at all for work permit applications where the position to be filled is at ISCO Level 1 and where the employer can certify relevant competence
- Be aware of greatly extended lead times for non-EEA dependents of EEA nationals