Workers from Ukraine return to the country for fear of losing their livelihoods. There are no official announcements from the Polish authorities to this group

According to the new law, foreigners may remain in Poland even after the expiry of their visas or residence permits. Nevertheless, many Ukrainians, who constitute the largest group of foreigners living in Poland, have left or are carried away with the intention of leaving after the opening of the Polish-Ukrainian border. The Polish authorities, although for years hiding from the relocation of the refugees by the million workers admitted from the eastern border, forgot to take care to send them reliable information about the coronavirus.

  • The extension of the legal stay of a foreigner staying in Poland on the basis of a national visa and a temporary residence permit will concern situations in which the last day of legal stay will fall within the duration of an epidemic emergency or state of epidemic. Therefore, it will be the period from 14 March 2020, when an epidemic hazard state was declared. Then the period of legal residence in Poland will be extended by virtue of the law until the 30th day following the day of cancellation of the last such state, which was in force," explain experts from the Office for Foreigners.

Prolongation of the legality of the stay will enable the fulfilment of the existing purpose of the stay in Poland, i.e., work. This is because the work permits, seasonal work permits, as well as the period of work will be extended on the basis of a statement on entrusting work to a foreigner. The Act also postpones the deadlines for submitting applications for residence permits, visa extensions and visa-free residence.

According to various sources, there are from several hundred thousand to over a million Ukrainians in Poland and they are the largest group of foreigners in Poland. Only in 2019, according to the data of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, almost 330.5 thousand Ukrainian citizens were granted work permits. However, out of fear of the coronavirus pandemic, many of them returned to the country. This was clearly demonstrated by the crowds at the borders, when on 27 March their closure was announced, although only for a week. One in five Ukrainians arrived on the basis of a biometric passport, entitling them to stay without a visa for up to three months within half a year, and a total of up to six months within a year, and these people were probably the majority of those leaving.

  • We must remember that the presence of Ukrainians in Poland after the crisis will still be very important. The pandemic is a test of our solidarity with those who live and work alongside us. It is important that our relations remain good, so that the crisis will not be followed by a second crisis caused by the absence of Ukrainians who have left and do not want or can no longer return," writes the authors of the study "Ukrainians in Poland during the coronavirus epidemic" conducted by IRCenter.com at the end of March.

The study shows that 52% of workers from abroad have a work permit or a work visa, 22% have a permanent residence card, and 64% have a visa. - The study shows that 52% of workers from abroad have a work permit or a work visa, while 64% have a permanent residence card and 64% have a permit to stay in Poland for more than six months, which should not affect their plans. At the time of the survey, 83% also wanted to tie their future with Poland, and 12% were considering leaving.

Some people lost their jobs overnight, when companies were forced to reduce employment or cut wages, others lost their jobs (e.g. people usually working in the grey market, cleaning or caring in private homes), and others - a roof over their heads after closing their accommodation. Although the government relaxed its position and introduced changes to the regulation, allowing the planned stay of persons in delegations and those who use accommodation services as part of their work duties (e.g. construction workers) and who were accommodated in an accommodation facility before 31 March, the above mentioned study shows that employees from Ukraine are confused because they did not receive any official information from the Polish government in Ukrainian, Russian or English. They draw their knowledge mainly from their compatriots, from Ukrainian media and from social media.

In a situation where even Poles find it difficult to keep up with the information flowing down the avalanche, it is difficult to estimate whether workers from the East have been informed about extending their stay in Poland on the basis of visas or permits up to 30 days after the end of the epidemic and the validity of already issued work permits, seasonal work permits and declarations on entrusting work to a foreigner.

  • Every second Ukrainian assesses positively the actions of the Polish government directed at them, while the Ukrainian government is assessed in such a way by every third respondent - this is again the IRCenter.com survey. - How we will survive the pandemic together also depends on our relations in the future - concludes its authors.

/ Source Newseria

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