Ukrainian refugees with visas now eligible for financial benefit, easier employment process

Ukrainian refugees

From Monday, refugees from Ukraine are able to ask for an emergency humanitarian allowance of CZK 5,000. The funds are available to those Ukrainians who have secured special visas. Further measures include easier access to employment and social services.

The CZK 5,000 allowance is part of a package of laws commonly referred to as “Lex Ukraine”. These range from visa and employment rules to social security measures and access to healthcare, education or social services, the Czech News Agency writes.

The Czech government has handed out over 200,000 visas since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. According to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, around 270,000 Ukrainians have fled to the Czech Republic thus far. Half of them are children and 80 percent of all the adults are women.

Refugees will be able to apply for the cash benefit via a special online app, developed for this purpose by the Labour Ministry. The application is available in four languages – Czech, Ukrainian, Russian and English. The money is allocated for securing basic needs and is payable for the month in which the individual secured their visa. If necessary, it can be collected for a period of up to six months. However, it is necessary to possess a Czech bank account in order to be able to receive the money.

Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

The application has been developed to simplify and speed up the process. The ministry hopes that it will also ease the burden on labour offices, which have been subject to long queues in recent days.

The new package of laws also makes it possible for Ukrainians with visas to look directly for employment rather than having to visit labour offices first. Refugees can also get registered in the country’s unemployment database after which they get access to advisory services and, if they fulfil the necessary conditions, to social support and requalification schemes. Labour Minister Marian Jurečka highlighted that Ukrainians do not have to rely on intermediaries when looking for employment and that inspectors will crack down on any cases of exploitation.

Many Ukrainian refugees are still finding it nigh impossible to exchange their own country’s currency for Czech crowns and they also encounter challenges when trying to set up a Czech bank account without possessing a biometric passport or a permanent address. The managing director of the Czech Banking Association, Monika Zahálková, told Czech Television that banks will begin exchanging hryvnas once an exchange rate is set by regulators.

The new legislation is set to remain in force until the end of March next year.

More information can be found in Czech and Ukrainian on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: https://www.mpsv.cz/

Author: Tom McEnchroe
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