How to obtain a residence permit in Poland

A residence permit in Poland is a legal document issued to citizens who reside in other countries and wish to stay in Poland for a specified period of time. With a temporary residence permit (residence card), you can stay in Poland from 3 to 36 months, while with a permanent residence permit (called Zezwolenie na Pobyt) you can stay in Poland indefinitely; the residence permit can be extended later for 10 years. The conditions for obtaining a residence permit are regulated by the Polish Act on Foreigners of 12 December 2013. The residence card allows free entry and exit from the country and short-term visits to other Schengen countries without a visa, medical care, education in Polish educational institutions, acquisition and rental of real estate and other property. Nevertheless, the residence permit provides the foreigner with a small part of the privileges granted by Polish citizenship.

The most common residence permits in Poland are:

  1. Temporary residence permit: granted to non-EU citizens who intend to stay in Poland for more than 90 days. It is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. The holder of the residence permit is entitled to work in Poland and benefit from public services, e.g. health care.
  2. Permanent residence permit (Permit to Stay): granted to non-EU nationals who have lived in Poland for at least 5 years on the basis of a permanent residence permit. It is valid indefinitely and allows the holder to work and travel freely in the Schengen area.

The residence permit in Poland gives foreigners the opportunity to integrate into Polish society without fear of deportation. It also helps them gain access to basic services and enjoy the same rights and obligations as Polish citizens.

Grounds for obtaining a residence permit in Poland

Polish resident status is granted in one of the following cases:

  1. Employment or work visa – if you have an employer in Poland who wants to employ you, you can apply for a type D work visa. This type of visa can also be used to obtain a residence permit.
  2. Study – you can obtain a student visa to study in Poland at an educational institution.
  3. Business – you can register your business in Poland and obtain a business visa.
  4. Family ties or marriage to a Polish citizen – if a close relative or spouse lives in Poland, you can apply for a visa to reunite with your family. If you marry a Polish citizen, you can also apply for a residence permit. You do not need to have an immigrant visa beforehand, but you must complete and submit the appropriate application for a residence permit.
  5. if you want to invest or run a business – you can obtain a national visa based on your investment in Poland or the establishment of a business.
  6. Political asylum – you can obtain a visa on the basis of political asylum in Poland.
  7. religious purposes – you can obtain a visa to carry out religious activities in Poland.

For each of the above-mentioned types of residence permits, certain documents are required, such as a passport, photographs, proof of health insurance, as well as proof of financial stability and purpose of travel to Poland. These documents must be submitted with the relevant application.

List of documents required to obtain a residence permit in Poland

You will need originals and copies of certificates and other supporting documents:

  1. An application for a residence permit in 2 copies.
  2. Passport valid for at least 3 months after the end of the requested period of stay in Poland. 2 copies of all stamped pages
  3. Two photographs measuring 35 mm by 45 mm.
  4. Birth certificate.
  5. Criminal records from all countries where the applicant has resided in the last five years.
  6. Proof of financial self-sufficiency (e.g. bank statements, employment contract, employment certificate, business certificate, list of assets and their valuation).
  7. Health insurance that covers the cost of medical care in Poland.
  8. A receipt confirming payment of the application fee.

Depending on the specific situation and purpose of the foreigner’s stay in the territory of the Republic of Poland and the place where the application is submitted, additional documents may be required. In such a case, it is advisable to contact the Polish consulate to obtain detailed information on the requirements for obtaining a residence permit.

IMPORTANT: Documents drawn up in a foreign language must be translated into Polish by a sworn translator.

IMPORTANT: If you are a board member of a company or sole proprietorship, you must have a Type B work permit.

The company owned by the board member must be profitable. The annual profit should be at least 12 times the average salary, i.e. as of February 2023 it is 8164.36 PLN, or 97972 PLN.

The company must employ at least 2 EU citizens for the next 12 months. Otherwise, it must submit a business plan.

Necessary requirements to apply for a residence permit

  • To apply for a residence permit in Poland, all foreigners must meet a number of requirements:
  • The intended stay in the country for at least 3 months must be justified by the purpose of arrival and the declared reason
  • The applicant must not be included in the list of foreigners whose residence in the Republic of Poland is undesirable or in the Schengen Information System for the purpose of refusing entry to a person
  • The foreigner must not have any debts, including tax debts
  • The foreigner is not a threat to state security
  • Applicant does not have a communicable disease
  • The applicant is residing in the country legally
  • The foreigner must provide correct personal and factual information in the application and submit original documents

Main steps in obtaining a residence permit

  1. Preparation of documents. It is necessary to collect a package of documents corresponding to the purpose of obtaining a residence permit in Poland.
  2. Registration for a visit to the voivodship. The documents are submitted to the Office for Foreigners in the voivodship where the stay is planned. It is necessary to make an appointment in advance. This can be done online, e.g. on the website of the Mazowieckie Voivodship if the documents are to be submitted in Warsaw.
  3. Submission of documents. The application for a residence permit must be submitted no later than on the last day of legal residence in Poland. The documents shall be submitted in person. During the visit, applicants for a residence permit abroad shall submit biometric data.
  4. Obtaining a residence permit. The time taken to process an application is determined by the Code of Administrative Procedure and the Act on Foreigners in Poland. On average, a decision on the application is taken within 1-2 months. Some voivodeships, e.g. the Mazovian Voivodeship in Warsaw, provide the possibility to monitor the status of applications on their websites.

IMPORTANT: If a foreigner’s visa entitling him/her to stay in the country expires, the voivodship official inserts a special stamp into the passport when applying for a residence permit. This stamp allows the foreigner to officially stay in Poland for the duration of the application and while the decision is being processed.

Possibilities of obtaining a residence permit

As we mentioned above, a residence permit in Poland can be obtained in various ways, depending on the purpose of the foreigner’s stay. The options for obtaining a residence card vary in terms of cost, time of issuing the permit, as well as the nuances of application processing. Let us take a closer look at the different options.

Residence permit through employment – A residence permit for an employed person in Poland may be issued to persons who have an employment contract with a Polish company, as well as to representatives of foreign companies. The condition for granting the permit is to stay in the country for at least 90 days. After receiving an invitation and signing a contract, it is necessary to apply for a D visa with registration on the Polish website for foreign workers. Upon arrival in Poland, you will need to register with the Office for Foreigners and apply for a residence permit. You will need to provide copies of documents proving your ability to support yourself and pay for housing, medical insurance, etc. The D visa is valid for 6 months, after which you must apply for a temporary residence permit. Eventually, after 5 years of residence in Poland on the basis of a temporary residence permit, it is possible to apply for permanent residence.

NOTE: In case of dismissal, you will have to reapply for a residence permit in order to work in Poland.

Residence permit on the basis of undertaking business activities – foreigners who wish to carry out business activities in Poland are entitled to a residence permit. This permit is also granted to persons who intend to run a limited liability company (spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością) or a joint-stock company (spółka akcyjna) as general partners or proxies. To obtain a residence permit by establishing a company, you must meet certain conditions. You must register the company in Poland and have sufficient funds to operate the business. Once the company is registered, you must apply and submit documents for a residence permit.

Residence permit through studies – it is possible to apply for a Polish residence permit for citizens of other countries if they want to study at a university in the Republic of Poland. For this purpose, proof of enrolment at a higher education institution is required. A residence card on the basis of studies is issued not only to students, but also to those attending preparatory courses which require the foreigner to stay in the country for longer than 3 months. During studies, it is possible to work without additional permits. In order to apply for a residence permit, it is necessary to submit documents confirming financial independence and registration on a course or at an educational institution in Poland. After examining the application, the consular authorities may require additional information or documents. Local graduates interested in employment have the possibility to apply for a residence permit valid for 9 months.

Residence permit with the Card of the Pole – The Card of the Pole makes it much easier to obtain a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Poland. The card is issued to persons who have documented their Polish ancestry. The main advantage of this option is the possibility of obtaining a permanent residence permit in Poland upon arrival in the country and obtaining Polish citizenship after one year.

Residence permit on the basis of marriage with a Polish citizen – a foreigner with minor children has the right to obtain a residence status on the basis of marriage with a Polish citizen. Family members of Polish residents or persons who plan to legally immigrate to the country may also apply for the residence permit. A marriage certificate is required when submitting the application.

Residence permit for the purpose of acquiring real estate – a residence permit for the purpose of acquiring real estate in Poland is granted only to persons who are citizens of the European Union. In other cases, the purchase of real estate by a foreigner in the country does not constitute grounds for obtaining a residence permit. The government allows citizens of other countries to purchase real estate, but does not provide for any privileges with regard to the legalisation of residence in the country. A residence permit will have to be issued on a different basis.

Residence permit for the purpose of repatriation – repatriation concerns the return to the territory of Poland of persons of Polish origin who before 1 January 2001 lived in the countries of the Asian part of the former Soviet Union (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and as a result of exile, deportation or other national or political persecution could not return to the territory of Poland. Persons meeting the legal requirements may acquire Polish citizenship immediately after moving to Poland, without applying for temporary or permanent residence.

Refusal of a residence permit

Poland has strict rules regarding the granting of residence permits, there are several reasons why a residence permit may be refused:

  1. Unproven immigrant status – if the applicant does not provide sufficient evidence that they are an immigrant or do not meet the criteria for a residence permit in Poland, they may be refused.
  2. Irregularities – if the applicant has broken the rules of residence in Poland or does not meet other requirements, they may not be granted a residence permit.
  3. Insufficient income – if the applicant does not have sufficient income to support themselves and their family, they may face refusal.
  4. Problems with the migration office – if the applicant has problems with the migration office or other authorities that may affect their ability to obtain a residence permit in Poland.

In each case, the decision to issue a residence permit in Poland is based on a number of different factors and each application is considered individually.

NOTE: If an application for a residence permit is rejected within 14 days, the applicant has the right to appeal to the Head of the Office for Foreigners in the selected province.

In order to minimise the risk of receiving a negative decision, we recommend that you seek the assistance of a lawyer or a company formation agency in this matter to ensure that all necessary steps are taken properly and in a timely manner, as well as the preparation of the package of documents required in the procedure.

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