Qualified Worker Programme for non-EU foreigners partly restored

Illustrative photo: Lucie Hochmanová, ČRo

Monday did not just see the Czech government remove a wide-range of travel restrictions. A green light has also been given for workers from some non-EU states to apply for work in the Czech Republic. This is particularly relevant when it comes to Ukraine, the Czech Republic’s second largest source of foreign labour. However, restrictions for applicants from a number of other countries are still in place.

Illustrative photo: skeeze/Pixabay,  CC0

Thus far, applying for a work visa to secure employment in the Czech Republic has been either impossible or restricted to specific positions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, as of Monday, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has restored the Qualified Worker Programme, which provides support to employers operating in the Czech Republic who wish to employ qualified foreign workers, specifically when it comes to Ukraine, with certain capacity also allowed for applicants from Serbia, Montenegro, Mongolia and Moldova.

Tomáš Zelený, the Director of the Trade and Services Facilitation Department at the Czech Chamber of Industry, explains.

“From Monday, June 15, we have fully relaunched the Qualified Worker Programme for all professions in Ukraine.

“However, that does not count for all countries in the programme, because, for example in India, the Philippines, or in Belarus, our embassies are not yet fully in operation.

“We were primarily interested in Ukraine, because that is where we register the largest amount of applicants. I can confirm that in this country, it is possible for medium-skilled workers to apply as of Monday.”

Other states whose workers are included in the programme are Mongolia, Serbia, Philippines, India, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro and Kazakhstan. However, Ukrainians are far ahead of the others when it comes to the numbers of citizens actually working in the Czech Republic.

Last year, the Czech Labour Office registered 144,114 Ukrainian workers, their number only second to EU member Slovakia. In terms of countries which are part of the programme, Ukraine came far ahead of second placed Mongolia with just 6,176 registered workers.

It is the latest stage in restoring labour opportunities for Ukrainians hoping to work in the Czech Republic to the pre-coronavirus situation.

Restrictions on some applicants had already been lifted earlier, says the Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Press Department Zuzana Štíchová.

Illustrative photo: Michael Gaida/Pixabay,  CC0

“The visa processing had to be stopped during the pandemic, both due to the measures in the Czech Republic but also in the individual countries of origin of the workers that are heading to work in the Czech Republic.

“First of all we were able to accept applications for example in the Ukraine from workers in priority fields such as agriculture. This week we also added other sectors.”

According to Mr Zelený, around 200 employers are currently looking for roughly 1,000 Ukrainian workers.

Asked about why foreign labour is being sought abroad at a time when unemployment is expected to rise, Mr Zelený says that it is about the positions which businesses are looking for.

“We are talking about positions in construction and machine manufacturing such as metalworkers, welders and these sorts of craftsmen. There is a long-term lack of these professionals in our country.”

Mr Zelený says he does not know when exactly the Qualified Worker Programme will be fully restored for applicants from countries such as India and the Philippines, because the situation is very much dependent on external factors such as the development of the pandemic.

Information on the specific the current status and capacities of the Qualified Worker Programme can be found here: https://www.mpo.cz/en/foreign-trade/economic-migration/qualified-worker-programme--248608/