On Saturday, 28th January 2023, another law came into force, amending the so-called ‘Special Act’ on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with armed conflict on the territory of that country, regulating, among other things, the rules of their stay in Poland. At the same time, the amendment introduced provisions changing some 20 other laws. Below we present the changes important from the perspective of HR law, in particular concerning the legalization of residence and work of Ukrainian citizens, already in force or soon to come into force.

Diia.pl electronic document

At the statutory level, the Diia.pl electronic document has been legitimized as a residence permit. Together with a valid travel document, it entitles, among other things, to repeatedly cross the external border and internal borders of the Schengen area, as well as to stay in the territories of other Schengen countries. The previous wording of the regulations was not sufficiently detailed, as a result of which, in practice, there were discrepancies in their application. This is important, for example, in the context of business travel of Ukrainian citizens.

Applications for temporary residence permits for working Ukrainian citizens

As of 1st April 2023, the amendment will introduce the possibility of applying for temporary residence permits by Ukrainian citizens providing work or conducting business in Poland. The condition will be the possession of a PESEL number with UKR status and recognition of stay on Polish territory as legal.

Eliminate the institution of the simplified residence permit

In the current legal status, people fleeing the war use the institution of temporary protection. The amendment abrogated the provision under which citizens of Ukraine, after the expiration of 9 months from the date of entry to Poland, would have the opportunity to apply for a temporary residence permit (applications submitted so far will remain unprocessed). The exception would apply for Ukrainian citizens who provide work or conduct business activities, as mentioned above.

In addition, under the amendment, citizens of Ukraine who benefit from temporary protection in another EU member state will lose their entitlements under the Special Act.

Shorter deadline for submission of PESEL number applications

Citizens of Ukraine fleeing the war will have 30 days (instead of the previous 90) from the date of entry into Poland to apply for a PESEL number. Submission of the application within the 30-day deadline will result in recognition of the Ukrainian citizen's continued stay as legal.

Ukrainians who have not submitted an application for a PESEL number before the date of entry into force of the law will have 30 days to do so from 28th January 2023.

Extension of residence titles for citizens of Ukraine....

The period of validity of stay on the basis of a national visa is extended until 24th August 2023, if the last day of the period of stay of a Ukrainian citizen on the territory of Poland falls within the period from 24th February 2022 (previously extended to 31st December 2022).

...and the other foreigners:

Under the amendment, on 24th August 2023, provisions of the so-called "Covid Law" (the Law of 2 March 2020 on Special Arrangements for Preventing, Countering and Combating COVID-19, Other Infectious Diseases and Emergencies Caused by them), among others, extending the validity of foreigners' residence titles will be repealed.

Consequently, despite the announcement of the end of the epidemic emergency state by the end of March this year, any residence titles (visas, residence permits, etc.) that expired during the epidemic or epidemic emergency state will remain valid until 24th August 2023.

Changes related to assistance allowances

The amendment changed the previously existing rules for providing assistance in so-called collective accommodation for Ukrainians by public entities. There are added provisions obliging Ukrainian citizens to participate in the costs of food and accommodation, as well as specifying the maximum period for providing such assistance. The assistance shall be provided for no longer than 120 days from the date of the first entry to the territory of Poland.

After 120 days from that date, it can be provided if a Ukrainian citizen (with a PESEL) will cover in advance 50% of the costs of such assistance (no more than PLN 40 per person per day), and after 180 days - 75% of such costs (no more than PLN 60 per person per day).

The provisions include a catalog of people to whom the above-mentioned rules will not apply - this includes people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, people in difficult life situations that prevent them from contributing to the cost of assistance.

Most amendment's provisions came into force on 28th January 2023. But for some, the amendment provides a longer vacatio legis. This applies, among others, to the provisions on the possibility of applying for a residence permit for working Ukrainian citizens (enter into force on 1st April 2023), or those repealing "Covid Law" provisions (on 24th August 2023).