Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ombudsman: CzechRep breaches EU law over foreigners' stay

12 September 2012

Prague, Sept 11 (CTK) - The Visapoint system via which foreigners make appointments with the office at which they apply for permanent residency is at variance with the Czech Republic's EU commitments, Pavel Porizek, from the ombudsman's office, said Tuesday.

Some steps cannot be taken in certain countries while elsewhere the possibilities are limited, Porizek said.

He said the ombudsman has therefore turned to European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malstroem with a request for assessment of the system.

The applications should be settled within 60 days, but foreigners sometimes wait even half a year or one year, ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky said.

He said 203 complaints about inactivity in proceedings were filed last year, adding that he expects the number to further rise.

This is expensive for the state, Varvarovsky said.

Porizek said people in Kazakhstan or Ukraine are among those who may have problems if they want to join their spouse in the Czech Republic or want to study in the country.

He said Visapoint often makes it impossible to get registered in these countries.

Under EU legislation, the foreigners who live in the Czech Republic for more than 15 months and meet all conditions set are entitled to family reunification, Porizek said.

"The Czech Republic clearly breaches the EU law. The member countries may not subject family reunification to any conditions," Porizek said.

Last year some 200 foreigners turned to the ombudsman's office over their problems with Visapoint.

The ombudsman office's employees tried to get registered several times and they informed the foreign affairs and interior ministries several times about the problems uncovered, but to no avail, Porizek said.

He said at some places, the registration has been allegedly impossible for several months.

It was even feared that fraudsters mediate the registration for a fee, which would be absurd because Visapoint was introduced in 2009 precisely to prevent the black market and long waiting lists.

Porizek said another problem is that the system is not transparent. The potential applicants do not have any possibility to see the quotas for foreigners' moving to the Czech Republic.

"It is really no transparent system of controlled migration. The situation in other countries is different, it is a shame," Porizek said.

He said Visapoint can by "circumvented" by sending the permanent residency application by post and that the diplomatic mission may decide not to insist on he condition that foreigners must submit the applications personnally.

It is precisely the bad functioning of the system that can justify such a decision, Porizek said.

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