As a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine, since the beginning of the war, more than 2 million Ukrainian citizens have crossed the Polish border in search of shelter. Taking into account such a huge influx of refugees, on 12 March 2022 Polish authorities adopted a special Act on Providing Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine (the “Act”). Due to complex and dynamic situation the Act was subsequently amended on 26 March 2022. The Act regulates the rules of legal residence of Ukrainian refugees and their right to work and social benefits and has retroactive effect – from the date of the outbreak of war, i.e. 24 February 2022.
Temporary right of residence
In accordance with special regulations provided in the Act, Ukrainian citizens who came to Poland (directly or indirectly) from Ukraine after 24 February 2022 as a result of the armed conflict and declare the intention to stay on the territory of Poland, may stay in Poland for a period of 18 months (counting from 24 February 2022). After the recent amendments to the Act, the direct crossing of the Polish-Ukrainian border is no longer required. This means that the solutions guaranteed by the Act may be used by Ukrainians who crossed, for example, the Ukrainian-Moldovan border and then traveled to Poland.
Under the Act the permitted stay may be extended by the Ukrainian citizens for even 3 years on the basis of a temporary residence permit.
In addition, the Act has extended legality of the residence of Ukrainians currently residing in Poland. This applies to persons whose last day of legal residence in Poland falls after 24 February 2022, in particular:
- residence based on a national visa or a temporary residence permit which has been extended until 31 December 2022; and
- residence based on:
- a residence card, Polish ID of a Ukrainian citizen or a permit for tolerated stay;
- a Schengen visa;
- a visa issued by another Schengen State; or
- residence under visa-free regime
which has been extended for a period of 18 months (counting from 24 February 2022).
Right to work without obtaining a work permit
The Act has reduced formalities concerning not only legal residence, but also the possibility of taking up legal employment by citizens of Ukraine. Legalization of work without additional work permits applies to Ukrainian citizens:
- entering Poland after 24 February 2022 on the basis of special rules resulting from the Act (please see above); and
- remain legally in Poland on the basis of existing regulations.
To ensure the legality of work the employing entity must notify the competent labor office about entrusting work to a foreigner within 14 days from the moment of commencement of work. The notification may be sent electronically and the employing entity should fill in a special form, which includes the following information:
- data concerning the employing entity;
- data concerning the Ukrainian citizen;
- type of contract concluded;
- job position or type of work performed; and
- place of work performed.
Legal work may be performed on the basis of employment contracts as well as civil law contracts (a mandate contract or a service agreement).
Ukrainian citizens also have the right to conduct business activity under the same principles as Polish citizens. For this purpose they just need to obtain a special identification number (so-called PESEL number).
Ukrainian refugees may also benefit from the right to temporary protection in Poland on the basis of Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 of 4 March 2022, which includes the provision of immediate protection, the right of legal residence and access to the labor market.
Do you have questions on the Act or need employment-related advice? Contact our experts at Ellint’s Polish member firm Zawirska Ruszczyk Gąsior.