Rights of foreigners applying for international protection

A person who has fled their country in order to avoid repressions and persecution can apply for international protection in Poland. Before they get said protection, however, they’d have to spend months waiting for it in uncertainty. According to Uchodźcy Info, 14.5 months passes on average before a decision in protection procedure is given.

What are the rights of foreigners applying for international protection?

Health care

Foreigners who’ve applied for international support have a right to medical care – it is provided by a private company Petra Medica Sp. z o.o. This company guarantees:

– primary health care – tests and consultations with a physician, a pediatrician.

– specialist health care – tests and consultations with other medical professionals, including psychiatrists, dentists, etc. 

– psychological support – meetings with a psychologist.

– rehabilitation and hospital stay carried out based on a referral given or officially approved by Petra Medica.

People who apply for international protection are not entitled to health care provided by NFZ (National Health Fund, government-led universal health provider). However, they can access emergency medical services (pogotowie ratunkowe) by calling 112 or 999 in case of an urgent health-related situation.

Legal support

When a person receives a negative decision in the protection procedure or a decision about leaving the case unresolved, they are entitled to legal support free of charge. The support includes consultations with a lawyer for informational services as well as filing an appeal. Important! The right to free legal support is reserved for decisions given by the first instance. The decision of the second instance (the one that comes after an appeal) does not entitle a person to free legal help.

The demand for free legal assistance should be voiced to the worker of the foreigners facility who leads your case.


A person who has applied for international protection is not allowed to work for the first 6 months of the procedure. They have to get by with the social support they receive (accomodation and food at the foreigners facility or a paycheck for sustenance outside of it). Only after the six month period is a person allowed to get a job permit and find legal employment. They then have the same rights and obligations as any other foreigner with access to the labor market.


After making an international protection application, a foreigner is placed in one of the foreigner facilities. There are several of them in Poland. Most of them are located in small towns and villages or at a larger city’s periphery, which doesn’t make integration easy. As for positives, there are Polish language classes taught at the facilities.

The reception facilities (those, where the immigrants are placed at the beginning) organize educational meetings in which people can learn about Polish culture and the international protection procedure.

If the facility to which a person is admitted to is not a closed one, then they can, with regard to the facility’s regulations, leave the place for walks, traveling around the city and beyond it. It’s an opportunity to explore the new place of living, to meet new people – and possibly create social support networks.

Moreover, a person can apply to live outside of the facility. If the permission is granted, they receive a paycheck for covering housing and feeding expenses. In this situation a person has more freedom, which can make integration easier. However, there are also barriers – first and foremost financial difficulties and all that comes with it. Poor knowledge of Polish language and law may make foreigners more vulnerable to exploitation and fraud.

Social support

A person in protection procedure who lives at the facility is guaranteed accommodation and food. They have a right to a one time paycheck meant for buying basic necessities (such as clothes, shower gel, toothbrush, etc), as well as a monthly paycheck for hygiene products (PLN 20) and an allowance (PLN 50). Food is provided at the facility’s cantine or as a daily financial equivalent.

If a person wants to live outside of the facility, they receive a paycheck for individual maintenance. One person receives PLN 750 a month, and in case of families, the sum gets lower for every additional person. In a 4-person family, for instance, the paycheck is PLN 375 a month for a person.

What rights an asylum seeker does not have?

A person who applied for international protection does not have a right to social support that is not specifically dedicated to them. Such social aids as 500+, 300+, tourist bonus or Social Help Centers’ (Ośrodek Pomocy Społecznej) services are only available for people who have a residency permit or citizenship.

During the first 6 months of the procedure, a person does not have a right to legal employment. They are also not eligible to register in the Labour Office (Urząd Pracy) – this is also not available to them after 6 months.

International protection applicants are not allowed to leave Poland. They can apply for help in returning to the country of origin, under the condition of withrdawing their application for protection.

In the Help Center for Foreigners we offer services of Magazin, free legal support that’s available for any foreigner, psychological help and support of cultural mentors. If you need help, just contact us via email.

Get it done with us!

Do you have questions about the rights of people in international protection procedure? Would you like to use your right but don’t know how? Do you need legal support, a psychological consultation or material aid? Contact CPC.

In the time of coronavirus, our Help Center for Foreigners will help you remotely! Send an e-mail to: [email protected] and briefly describe your problem. If you want us to contact you quickly, you can also send us your phone number – it will make communication easier and shorten the waiting time for our response.

The assistance we provide is free of charge. However, please note that we do not provide technical support for websites and services. This text serves informational purposes only – we do not mediate organizational issues.