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Employing Foreigners in Poland (Part 2). EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens

Anna JELIŃSKA
Tax Consultant at RSM Poland

In the previous article from a series dedicated to employing foreigners in Poland. we discussed hiring third-country nationals. We have explained that this involves a range of obligations both for the employer and the employee, and any failure to meet these obligations results in certain penalties. Today we are going to analyse whether hiring a foreigner who is a citizen of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland (hereinafter referred to as an EU citizen) is indeed a less complicated procedure. Does the employer face penalties if he or she fails to observe the procedures related to a foreigner’s stay on the territory of Poland?

Entering the territory of Poland

One of the fundamental principles of the European Union is the principle of the free movement of employees, meaning that EU citizens have the right to travel and reside freely on the territory of the EU. It means that such activities as entering, residing and working on the territory of Poland do not require a foreigner to have a visa, a permit for temporary residence in Poland (confirmed by a residence card) nor a work permit.

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A stay of up to 3 months

An EU citizen may enter the territory of Poland on the basis of a valid travel document or another important document confirming their identity and citizenship. If an EU citizen does not have such a document, they may cross the Polish border, provided that they prove that they are entitled to exercise the freedom of movement of persons in another, indisputable manner. An employee who is an EU citizen may reside on the territory of Poland for a period of up to 3 months without the need to observe the terms and conditions of residence.

A stay of over 3 months

Any longer stay of a foreigner from another EU country on the territory of Poland must be justified and registered. The registration shall be made by the foreigner, no later than on the day following the lapse of 3 months from the date of entry onto the territory of Poland. A province governor competent for the place of residence of an EU citizen is authorised to register their stay.

However, if a foreigner entered the territory of Poland in order to look for a job, they may stay here for a maximum period of 6 months. If after this period a foreigner proves that they are actively looking for a job and have a real chance of finding one, the time of stay may be extended.

If there are any restrictions on the access to the labour market that apply to an EU citizen pursuant to international agreements, the foreigner is granted the right of residence for a period longer than 3 months once he or she receives a promise of a permit to work on the territory of Poland.

Furthermore, a foreigner may reside on the territory of Poland for a period longer than 3 months if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • is employed or self-employed on the territory of Poland,
  • has sufficient financial resources to support themselves and members of their family on the territory of Poland so as not to be a burden for social welfare, and is covered by public health insurance or entitled to these benefits,
  • is studying or undergoing vocational training and has sufficient financial resources to support themselves and members of their family on the territory of Poland, and is covered by public health insurance,
  • is married to a Polish citizen.

An EU citizen is granted the right of permanent residence after 5 years of uninterrupted stay on the territory of Poland. An uninterrupted stay shall be considered a stay in which the breaks did not exceed a total of 6 months per year. The province governor competent for the place of residence of an EU citizen shall issue a document attesting the right of permanent residence immediately after the said EU citizen has applied for it.

When are penalties applicable?

An entity (employer) who employs an EU citizen is not liable for any irregularities related with the stay of a foreigner from the EU, EEA or Switzerland on the territory of Poland, including the failure to register the stay. The relevant obligations apply only and exclusively to the foreigner and there are fines for non-compliance.

In the next article of our series, we are going to dispel some further doubts concerning employing a foreigner in Poland. We will discuss who is responsible for submitting an application for a work permit and when an employer may employ a foreigner on the territory of Poland without a permit. I encourage you to read about it!

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