Lower house passes wide-ranging amendment to law on foreigners

Photo: European Commission

In response to directives from the European Commission, the lower house of Parliament has passed new legislation regarding the employment and residence of foreigners in the Czech Republic. Foreigners will be required to have sufficient health insurance and their residency permits will have to have biometric information, such as fingerprints. Also, foreigners facing deportation will be able to request an asylum hearing. To find out more about the new bill and what it will mean for foreigners in the Czech Republic, Radio Prague spoke to Lucie Sládková who heads the International Organisation for Migration.

Photo: European Commission
“Well, the amendment had 380 paragraphs of changes, so I cannot go into detail. The important thing is, for example, that it implements a directive that puts the responsibility for the work of migrants on the employers, which means that he or she will be published if illegal work is done by a migrant worker; it will be the ultimate responsibility of employers, not agencies, and that is a good thing.”

Why is that a good thing from your point of view?

“Because there must be responsibility on the part of those who really need workers and not on the recruitment agencies so that when something happens and migrants do not have a good contract or are not given the right wages, the employer can’t say, ‘Well they’re not my employees, they’re the employees of the recruitment agencies.’ Now the law will state that the responsibility is with the employer and not the agencies.”

Illustrative photo: Czech Television
The proposal also puts forward the idea of turning the Foreign Police into a civilian agency. Do you see that as having any practical effect on foreigners in the Czech Republic?

“I would like to correct you slightly: it is not going to be a sort of civil authority, the Foreign Police will always be the Foreign Police, but the number of policemen will be reduced and they will be moved to the regions. But permanent residence and long-term residence applications will be considered by the Ministry of the Interior, which is the civilian sector.”

There is also this idea of introducing a “blue card” for foreigners to authorise their long term residence and employment in the Czech Republic; what exactly is the purpose of that when foreigners can already live and work here?

“The blue card is a European matter – the Czech Republic previously introduced green cards, which has nothing to do with the American green cards. The blue card says that there will be differences between highly educated or highly skilled migrants who will get residency, and the only purpose is for it to be quicker than the normal applications for long-term stays for purposes of employment.”