Due to the start of the war in Ukraine, a special law (specustawa) was introduced to help people with Ukrainian citizenship. In this article we describe what rights are guaranteed by this law.
Legal residence in Poland
The special act (specustawa) grants legal residence status to the following groups of persons:
- to Ukrainian nationals and their spouses (regardless of their nationality) who entered Poland in a period from 24 February,
- to persons with Ukrainian citizenship, holders of the Card of the Pole, together with their closest family members, who entered Poland either directly or via another country,
on condition that they apply for a PESEL number.
Then they obtain a UKR residence title, which is confirmed by the PESEL number. Such a status ensures legal stay for 18 months from 24/02/2022. After 9 months of UKR stay in Poland, you can apply for a temporary permit for 3 years.
If a person who stays in Poland on the basis of UKR gives birth to a child in Poland, the child receives the same residence status.
Extension of residence status
If a person with Ukrainian citizenship already had a visa or temporary residence permit in Poland on 24/02/2022, this status is automatically extended until the end of 2022.
For a period of 18 months, a person who stayed in Poland on 24/02/2022 on the basis of a visa-free regime or Schengen visa is considered to have legal residence.
Deadlines for leaving the territory of Poland and deadlines for voluntary return are also extended by 18 months.
Documents such as residence cards, Polish identity cards of Ukrainian citizens, permits for tolerated stay – are extended automatically by 18 months if their validity period expires after 24/02/2022.
- an extended national visa/stay card/ stay based on visa-free regime does not entitle you to enter Poland;
- UKR status does not entitle you to enter Poland;
Persons with Ukrainian citizenship who reside in the territory of Poland legally, whether on the basis of a special law or not, can work without a permit.
If a person from Ukraine takes up employment, the entity commissioning the work is obliged to notify the Labour Office in accordance with the place of residence or registered office of the person taking up employment. The Labour Office must be notified via the website praca.gov.pl.
Persons with UKR status, who worked in Ukraine as academic teachers, can be employed at Polish universities without competition.
A similar rule applies to research workers – they can be employed without a competition in NAWA, scientific institutes or other research units.
A person who was qualified as a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife in Ukraine may obtain a permit to practice the profession and a conditional right to practice the profession, on condition that they meet certain criteria.
Labour office (Urząd Pracy)
A person with UKR status may also register at the labour office as an unemployed person or as a jobseeker. However, a person over retirement age (60 for women, 65 for men) can also register as unemployed.
A person with the status of UKR can carry out business activity in Poland under the same conditions as Polish citizens. In order to register your business you need a PESEL number.
If a person loses their residence status, their business activity will be deleted from the Central Register of Evidence and Information on Business Activity – i.e. it will no longer be possible to run a business.
A person with UKR status is entitled to the following family benefits:
- family allowance and supplements to family allowance (zasiłek rodzinny oraz dodatki do zasiłku rodzinnego);
- attendance benefits (świadczenia opiekuńcze): care allowance (zasiłek pielęgnacyjny), special attendance allowance (specjalny zasiłek opiekuńczy) and care benefit (świadczenie pielęgnacyjne);
- childbirth grant paid by municipalities (zapomoga wypłacana przez gminy z tytułu urodzenia dziecka);
- benefits paid by municipalities based on the analysis of local needs (świadczenia wypłacane przez gminy w oparciu o analizę lokalnych potrzeb);
- one-off childbirth grant (jednorazowa zapomoga z tytułu urodzenia się dziecka);
- parental benefit (świadczenie rodzicielskie).
In addition, a person is entitled to an upbringing benefit, a good start benefit, a family care capital, a financial contribution to the fee for a nursery, a children’s club or a day carer. These benefits are granted to parents and guardians for children living in Poland.
For each of these benefits, allowances, etc., a PESEL number is needed (if the benefit is for a child, both the parent/guardian and the child must have a PESEL number). For some of them you will also need a trusted profile.
Some of the benefits listed in the previous section are issued by Social Assistance Centres (OPS). The socio-economic situation of the family is assessed on the basis of a statement made by the applicant. No family interview is carried out unless there are doubts about the content of the declaration.
One-off cash benefit
A person with UKR status is also entitled to a one-off cash benefit of PLN 300 per person. This benefit is granted by the OPS.
A person covered by the special law can benefit from food aid organised by the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. The condition for receiving assistance is meeting the criteria of the Food Aid Operational Programme 2014-2020.
A person with UKR status has access to free state medical services (NFZ) on the same basis as if they had insurance. An exception is health resort treatment and spa rehabilitation.
A person with the status of UKR studying in Poland may apply for a social grant at his/her university, as well as for a student aid and a student loan. In the process of applying for them, person submits a statement about her family and material situation. In contrast to other students, the limit of 2 allowances per year does not apply to students with UKR status.
If a person who has studied in Ukraine does not have documents confirming the period of study, his/her previous educational achievements may be recognized on the basis of a statement and on the verification of learning outcomes. In case of programme differences, a student may be obliged to take certain exams and practices.
A person with UKR status loses all the rights it confers when leaving Poland for a period of more than 30 days. It is not clear whether the limit applies to a single trip or to all trips together.
Obtaining the UKR status in Poland also enables you to obtain temporary protection in other EU countries.
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