Czech authorities move to simplify work permits for non-EU supra-national corporation employees

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

Following persistent complaints regarding the length of time it takes for foreign investors to bring highly qualified staff to run their businesses in the Czech Republic, Czech authorities have finally moved to ease the allocation of work permits for non-EU workers in foreign companies with over 250 employees.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
For workers from non-EU member states getting a work permit in the Czech Republic was often a nightmare experience. Surprisingly, this was also the case with employees of large international firms operating in management or specialist capacity whose presence in the Czech Republic was considered crucial to jump-starting the given company’s Czech branch.

For instance an Australian IT specialist working in Prague says that it took her four months of dealing with red tape to meet the required conditions – which included a copy of her diploma with a notary-verified translation into Czech as well as six pages of information regarding her qualifications and study results. Since she had already arrived in Prague, it was left to her family in Australia to collect all the required papers. Her colleague – also from a non-EU member state- says it took him half a year to complete the approval process and start work. For most foreign companies, used to a flexible attitudes elsewhere, waiting six months to take on an employee of their choice is simply unacceptable and may lead them to consider other investment locations.

Following numerous complaints, the Czech authorities have now moved to ease document requirements for highly qualified workers in foreign companies with over 250 employees. Such companies can now make use of so-called fast-track work applications which involve far less red tape and under which employees from non-EU member states can receive a work permit within one to two months rather than the standard four to six months that it would otherwise take.

Deloitte manager Miroslav Mejtský told Czech Television the move is long overdue. Skilled foreign workers in management and specialist capacities not only bring their skills to the Czech Republic but their presence here may be decisive to whether the foreign investment in question takes place or not.

The government’s council for human rights which pushed for the change in January of this year was also critical of the rules according to which work-permits are extended – by two years at the most. The council said such a decision should be made on a case-by-case basis with regard for the needs of the given firm and the situation on the labour market.

In Portugal or Sweden the process of acquiring a work permit for a non-EU national takes on average 4 weeks, while in Belgium or Denmark it can take up to six weeks. Austria –similarly as the Czech Republic – can make foreign employees wait for up to 24 weeks for a permit – but then a love of red tape in Prague and Vienna could be a throwback to their shared years in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.