How to accelerate the issuance of a residence card?

The problem of extending the issue of temporary or permanent residence permits is one of the biggest inconveniences faced by migrants when legalizing their stay in Poland for a longer period. The Foundation Ukraine together with Maciej Stasierski have prepared a short article-guide on accelerating the issuance of a residence card.


In recent years, there has been a significant growth in migration to Poland. Of course, this phenomenon applies not only to Ukrainian citizens, but they certainly a large percentage of foreigners coming to the country. There is a huge variety of reasons for migration, from work, through studies, to marriage and tourism. However, let’s face it – most foreigners come to Poland to work in order to find a secure source of income. It is obvious that the influx of people to work or willing to learn can only be positive for the Polish economy and the social structure of our country. Unfortunately, the authorities have not prepared well to receive so many migrants, which results, for example, in problems with obtaining residence permits on time. In large cities, such as Wrocław, Warsaw or Poznań, issuing residence cards within statutory deadlines can be considered a miracle.


Deadlines and delays


In order to examine the timely obtaining of residence permits, we should start with the deadlines themselves – what are they and why are they not met?


Basically, in matters related to the legalization of stay, we are interested in 3 basic deadlines. The first is a monthly period, which in special cases may be extended to 2 months – it refers to the time in which a decision should be issued by the authority of the first instance, i.e. usually a specific voivode or, in very rare cases, the border guard commander.

What are these special cases? Those that require additional proceedings, e.g. the officer in the case is obliged to ask for additional documents or conduct the interviews (e.g. in a situation where we are dealing with a case concerning spouses).


The next one-month period relates to cases on appeal. We appeal the decision that for some reason we consider incorrect, e.g. it is too short or, which is much more frequent, the authority refuses us a residence permit. There may be several reasons for such a decision, but the most common is the lack of submission of the necessary documents. If such a decision is issued, the foreigner must appeal it, and the authority that examines the case has one month to issue a decision in which it indicates whether the appeal was justified.


The third period we are interested in refers to the time in which the authorities (the police, border guards and the Internal Security Agency) evaluate the application – they have 30 days to do so. What happens during such an evaluation? Usually, various types of foreigner registers available to these services are checked, or in extreme cases, the interviews are conducted, during which officers visit foreigners in their apartments or houses and check the purpose of their stay.


As can be seen, in theory, residence procedures should be short and transparent. The reality is more complicated – the periods in which foreigners wait for decisions are becoming longer every year. It happens that you have to wait even a year, two or three years for a residence card. Why is this happening? On the one hand, of course, due to the accumulation of cases. However, the main reasons are different – many years of backlog, low employment in offices and high volatility of employees are just a few of them. An example of the last phenomenon are the cases of foreigners in which, during the proceedings lasting several months, the change of the officer conducting the case occurs many times.


How to deal with such situations? The most important thing is to know your rights and use them effectively. There are a number of regulations that can help to make things faster and you shouldn’t be afraid to apply them. An important rule to remember is that a complaint or a reminder should be always filed when one of the deadlines I mentioned has been exceeded. Then you need to start actions to speed up the matter.


Complaints and reminder


Complaints and reminders are the most common types of letters that can be submitted in administrative proceedings, i.e. before the “final act”, which is the court, is brought.


An administrative complaint is usually the beginning of the road. You file a complaint about the actions of a manager or a specific inspector who handles the case. Such a complaint clearly constitutes a specific rule of procedure – during its duration, at least in theory, the foreigner should be entitled to actively participate in the process. In other words, as the “ruler” of the case, you can submit documents, make changes, complain about the breach of regulation. One of such breaches is the delay.


This type of complaint can be addressed at any stage of the case. Importantly, the authority should not ignore it. Depending on the degree of formalization of the letter, the inspector will either not react to it at all or will be forced to react. Nevertheless the importance and impact of this kind of complaint is limited, because the authorities usually dismiss it with a simple statement that it is “unfounded”.


Such a thing cannot be done with the reminder, which is therefore much more effective, if not fully effective, in speeding up the process. The most important rule about how to conduct the reminder is as follows: the deadline for their consideration is very short. For reminders, there is 7 days for its handover and 7 days for the evaluation. Unfortunately, these deadlines are also pure fiction. The impact of reminders on the procedure is critical due to the fact that they are the best of accelerating the procedure, simply by reminding the officer that the case exists and should be evaluated – in the matter of cases that are “sitting”  and waiting for their turn several months, it is a significant impact.


Complaint to the Administrative Court 


However, this impact of reminders is by no means comparable to what the complaints to administrative courts can “do”. There are two rules regarding this method of speeding up the cases that must be strictly adhered to – firstly, in order to be able to file a complaint at all, you must exhaust all the possibilities offered by the administrative procedure, that is, in fact, to submit a reminder. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the request to force the body to do something is a necessary element of the complaint – in the case of cases for residences, the most common demand is to oblige the authority to issue the decision and state the deadline to do so. The court, if it finds that the foreigner is right, sets the deadline to deal with the subject and sometimes imposes other obligations on the authority, e.g. it orders the payment of compensation. If we reach for this measure of acceleration, we can be sure that the authority will take us seriously. The reason is simple – the court is not to be disregarded, especially the one that may impose financial penalties.


Therefore, an important appeal and information at the end: if you really want to speed up the process, you must do it using all means of pressure on the offices available in the law. I know from experience that foreigners are afraid to do it, because the authorities “may take revenge” or “take offense” and will not issue a decision. You can’t worry about it. You have to fight for your rights, because with the current state of immigration offices in Poland, without filing various types of complaints, you can wait forever for residence cards. And this is an unacceptable situation for anyone.


If you need help with writing complaints or reminders, we invite you to sign up for free legal consultations with our specialists, look for contacts on our social media.


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