Coronavirus – how to extend your legal stay in Poland

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in the world. In turn, since March 14, 2020, an epidemic emergency has been introduced in Poland, which entails various types of restrictions. One of them is the closing of borders, which resulted in cancellation of international airplane flights. For foreigners who have a limited period of legal stay in Poland and, on the other hand, whose return home requires air travel and who have not left Poland by March 14, 2020, the situation has become complicated. Therefore, when coronavirus rules our lives, how to extend the legal stay in Poland? The following guidelines will also be useful when the epidemic is gone.

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Several options for extending the legal stay

The way you extend your legal stay will be different depending on where you come from. Are you from a visa-free travel country or did you come on a Schengen or national visa.

If you are a citizen of a country with no visas, you have one option, you must apply for a temporary residence permit. The form can be downloaded here.

On the other hand, when you came to Poland on the basis of a national or a Schengen visa, you have to options:

  1. apply for an extension of your visa (forms – extension of a national visa, Schengen visa) or
  2. submit an application for a temporary residence permit (form).

Where to submit the application

All of the above-mentioned application, both for the visa extension and temporary residence permit, must be submitted to the voivode. In practice, you submit applications to the voivodeship office in the place where you live.

So, for example, if you stay in Warsaw and the surrounding areas, it will be the Mazovia Voivodeship Office, if you are in Silesia – the Silesian Voivodeship Office. Note, offices in large voivodeships have branches in addition to the headquarters. For example, if you are in the vicinity of Bielsko-Biała, you should submit the application at the headquarters of the Silesian Voivodeship Office in Bielsko-Biała, and not in Katowice.

When and how to submit the application

Regardless of which application you submit, remember about the deadline. To effectively extend the legality of your stay, you must submit an application no later than on the last day of your legal stay. If you miss this day, your stay in Poland (after exceeding the permitted period) will be treated as illegal. So check it carefully when you can legally remain in Poland on the basis of the already owned documents.

As a rule, the applications should be submitted in person to complete all formalities at the same time. At present, however, this is not possible, the authorities have suspended the admission of any people, even to the registry office. Outside the epidemic, submitting your application in person is also very difficult. Coronavirus is keeping you in Poland, offices are closed, so how to extend your legal stay in Poland? The only way out is to download the appropriate application from the Internet, print it, fill it out and send by post (to the address of the relevant office).

However, you cannot use any postal or courier company. In order for there to be no doubt as to the date of the submission of the application, you must send it by Polish Post, as a registered mail, preferably with confirmation of receipt. Confirmation of postage (and receipt) will be your only proof that you sent the application on time (during your legal stay). Sending the application by Polish Post (no later than on the last day of legal stay) guarantees that the office will consider that you have met the deadline and that your stay will be legal.

Is sending the application form all I have to do

No, that’s not all. Your application may not have any formal deficiencies. They will be slightly different for each application. It is important to complete and sign the form legibly with your name. The key is to correctly complete your data, in particular the address of your stay in Poland, which is equally important for all applications. If you are not sure how to fill in one of the fields correctly, arrange legal advice or leave this field blank, you will complete it later.

Application for visa extension – basic requirements

The following should be attached to the application:

– current photograph,

– a copy of the passport – a notarized copy can be attached (the office will later request the passport for inspection),

– confirmation of payment (except for the application for the extension of the Schengen visa, if the application is submitted due to force majeure; an outbreak of coronavirus that caused you to stay in Poland is certainly a force majeure),

– documents confirming the purpose and conditions of the planned stay, financial resources for further stay and return journey (or a purchased ticket),

– confirmation of having health insurance or travel medical insurance.

Application for a temporary residence permit – basic formal requirements

The formal requirements necessary for initiating the procedure itself, apart from completing the application form, are not very numerous and differ depending on the purpose of the stay. Currently, when voivodeship offices are closed to clients, you will certainly not fulfil one of the most important formal requirements, which is the submission of fingerprints.

Other formal requirements that you must meet regardless of the purpose of your stay are certainly attaching a photograph and paying the application fee (in principle, PLN 330, in some cases PLN 440 or PLN 170).

How to check if I have fulfilled all formal requirements

Each application has its own formal requirements. If you did not meet them when sending the application (e.g. you did not attach a photograph or confirmation of payment), but provided your personal data and address correctly, you will receive a letter from the office. Read it carefully. It will be a call to supplement the so-called formal deficiencies, which will be provided in writing. You will get 7 days to supplement them. This is a very important deadline that you must absolutely meet. Otherwise, the office will leave your application without consideration and your stay will be considered illegal.

How will the legality of my stay be extended

If you applied for a visa extension or a temporary residence permit during your legal stay in Poland. This application was complete (there were no formal deficiencies, or you filled in the deficiencies within the time limit specified by the office), your stay will be considered legal from the date of submission of the application until the final decision in the matter. The stay will be legal, even if the decision is refused.

The above guidelines apply not only when coronavirus resulted in closing the national borders. They apply always if you want to extend your legal stay in Poland.

Legal status as of March 2020.

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