Following the Russian invasion and the start of the war in Ukraine, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision activating temporary protection in March this year. In this respect, the Czech Republic adopted the Act on Certain Measures concerning the Armed Conflict in the Territory of Ukraine caused by the Invasion of Russian Federation Troops (the so-called Lex Ukraine Act), by which it granted Ukrainian citizens, their family members and other listed categories of individuals the right to temporary protection under the Act on Temporary Protection of Foreigners. Under the legislative framework, the Czech Republic has granted temporary protection to almost 470,000 refugees to date.
The Lex Ukraine Act is effective until 31 March 2023, which is also the date when the validity of visa stickers evidencing temporary protection expires.
Given the recent situation in Ukraine, European Union leaders have announced that the temporary protection of Ukrainian refugees will be extended until at least March 2024. This European agreement has been incorporated into the draft amendment to the Lex Ukraine Act.
The amendment to the Lex Ukraine Act was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in a state of legislative emergency on 13 December 2022 and is now in the Senate which will express its view after the New Year.
How to extend temporary protection?
Foreign citizens who reside in the territory of the Czech Republic under temporary protection and wish to remain here after 1 April 2023 must register electronically for a personal appointment at the Department for Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of Interior to have a new visa sticker attached by 31 March 2023 at the latest. The reservation system will be launched at the beginning of 2023. The form itself should be simple and contain only basic information about the applicant. After completing the form, the system will generate a successful registration confirmation which can be used to prove the legitimacy of stay in the Czech Republic until the new visa sticker is attached, for instance in relation to the employer.
The visa sticker must be attached to the travel document by 30 September 2023 at the latest. To attach the visa sticker, the foreign citizen must submit proof of accommodation (e.g., extract from the Cadastre Register evidencing ownership of the real estate or a copy of a lease agreement) unless they have been provided with emergency accommodation, temporary emergency shelter or have applied for temporary protection after 27 June 2022 and the place of their residence has not changed in the meantime.
Once the new visa sticker is attached, the temporary protection will be extended until 31 March 2024. In the event of any extraordinary situation, for instance, another wave of refugees, the government can set out in a decree that the registration itself is considered an extension of temporary protection and no visa sticker needs to be attached.
If the foreign citizen does not register for an appointment in the reservation system in time, then temporary protection will automatically expire on 31 March 2023. Should they fail to appear on the agreed date to have the new visa sticker attached, a new appointment can be booked through the system. However, the last day to attach the visa sticker is 30 September 2023, otherwise, the temporary protection expires on that day.
For further information, please contact:
Roman Norek, Bird & Bird