The provisions of the Act of 20 April 2004 on employment promotion and labor market institutions set out a general prohibition for foreigners to work in Poland. Nevertheless, this prohibition is not absolute. Further special provisions of the Act specify a closed catalog of categories of foreigners who may gain access to the Polish labor market. These categories can be divided into three groups:
1. foreigners who can use the freedoms of the EU internal market (i.e. access to the labor market is granted under EU law),
2. foreigners whose right to work depends on the issuing of an administrative act in an individual case (decision on granting a work permit, certain types of residence permit, granting refugee status, etc.), and
3. foreigners exempted from the obligation to have a work permit under the Act or other legal provisions.
The following list includes only some, most common in practice, cases of foreigner's access to the labor market in Poland.
Foreigners enjoying the freedoms of the EU internal market
Foreigners referring to this category have the right to work in the territory of the Republic of Poland on the basis of EU regulations or international agreements, which parties are, among others, EU countries. The Act does not impose on these foreigners the obligation to obtain a work permit beforehand or issue another administrative act confirming their right to access the labor market in Poland.
The category includes:
- citizens of EU Member States,
- family members of an employee of a citizen of an EU Member State (spouses and descendants below 21 years of age or a dependent of a foreigner and ascendants of a citizen of an EU Member State or his dependent spouse),
- citizens of EEA Member States and their family members (on similar principles as citizens of EU Member States).
Foreigners, whose right to work depends on the issuing of an administrative act
Within this extensive category of foreigners, the following groups can be distinguished:
1) foreigners benefiting from protection on the territory of the Republic of Poland:
- having refugee status,
- for which subsidiary protection has been granted,
- having a permit for tolerated stay,
- benefiting from temporary protection.
There should be also mentioned foreigners whose case for granting international protection has not been resolved in a timely manner. They may work in the territory of the Republic of Poland provided that they obtain a relevant certificate from the Head of the Office for Foreigners.
2) foreigners who have obtained a work permit and at the same time staying in the territory of the Republic of Poland on the basis of:
- visas with the exception of a tourist visa, as well as issued in connection with the use of temporary protection or issued for humanitarian reasons,
- stamp imprint on the foreigner's travel document confirming submission of a complete application for a residence permit,
- a temporary residence permit, in addition to a temporary residence permit issued due to circumstances requiring a short stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland (in connection with the obligation to appear in person before a Polish public authority or when the exceptional personal situation of a foreigner requires it or the presence of a foreigner requires the interest of the Republic of Poland),
- on the basis of a visa issued by another Schengen country,
- on the basis of a residence permit issued by another Schengen country,
- as part of visa-free travel.
The above list implies the principle expressed in the provisions of Polish law that work performed by a foreigner is legal only if the foreigner stays legally in the Republic of Poland.
3) foreigners for whom an administrative act other than that indicated in item 1) or 2) has been issued, namely who has:
- permanent residence permit in Poland,
- long-term resident's EU residence permit,
- temporary residence and work permit,
- temporary residence permit for the purpose of highly qualified employment (UE Blue Card),
- temporary residence permit for the purpose of performing work under an intra-corporate transfer,
- temporary residence permit for business purposes,
- a document authorizing the use of short-term mobility of the researcher,
- a document authorizing the use of student mobility.
Foreigners exempted from the obligation to have a work permit under the Act or other legal provisions
The Act on employment promotion and labor market institutions also provides for the possibility of exemption from the obligation to have a work permit for foreigners:
- with a temporary residence permit or national visa for the purpose of scientific research and development work and their spouses,
- being a spouse or descendant of a Polish citizen or a foreigner benefiting from protection on the territory of the Republic of Poland, holding a permanent residence permit or long-term resident's EU residence,
- possessing a temporary residence permit granted in order to reunite the family,
- who have a valid Pole's Card (Karta Polaka),
- employees of an employer based in the EU or EEA and temporarily delegated to provide services on the territory of the Republic of Poland.
A work permit is not required also in the case when the employer, before the commencement of work by the foreigner, registered a declaration of entrusting the performance of work in the poviat labor office. This mechanism was provided only for foreigners who are citizens of one of six countries: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova.
Exemptions from the obligation to obtain a work permit are provided not only in the abovementioned Act, but also in the Regulation of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of 29 April 2015 on cases in which entrusting work to a foreigner on the territory of the Republic of Poland is permissible without the need to obtain a work permit. These include the following cases:
- foreigners who are foreign language teachers who work in kindergartens, schools and other educational establishments,
- foreigners who are regular correspondents of foreign mass media, who have been accredited by the minister of foreign affairs,
- foreigners performing artistic services individually or in teams, giving scientific papers, athletes performing work in connection with sports competitions, if these circumstances last up to 30 days in a calendar year,
- foreigners who are full-time students or participants in doctoral studies,
- foreigners who are graduates of Polish upper secondary, full-time university studies or full-time doctoral studies,
- foreigners delegated by a foreign employer to the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period not exceeding 3 months in a calendar year in order to carry out assembly, maintenance or repair work on delivered devices, structures, machines or other equipment, if the employer is their producer, to collect equipment made by a Polish entrepreneur, training employees of the Polish employer who is the recipient of equipment, assembly and disassembly of exhibition stands and maintain them.
We encourage Polish and foreign entrepreneurs to contact our Law Firm's lawyers regarding employment issues and legalization of foreigners' stay in Poland: email@example.com