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Czechia Reports a Shocking Number of Foreginers Applying for Permanent Residence

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The Ministry of the Interior has projected that approximately 30,000 foreigners will seek permanent residency in the Czech Republic this year, marking a notable 28% increase compared to the previous year. The exact reasons behind this influx remain a matter of speculation.

Foreigners from third countries who aspire to obtain permanent residence in the Czech Republic are required to pass a Czech language exam. Two years ago, the exam was made more challenging, leading the Ministry of Education to anticipate a decline in applications. However, the opposite has occurred.

Aneta Lednová, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, explains, “Interest in the exam has risen nearly tenfold compared to previous years, which unfortunately resulted in longer waiting times. Such high interest could not have been predicted, as it is impossible to know in advance whether a foreigner who has applied to the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior intends to stay in the Czech Republic, and if so, whether they would opt for permanent residency or continue to reside here on a long-term basis.”

The increased interest in the Czech language exam can be partly attributed to the arrival of foreigners under a program targeting highly skilled workers, which was introduced seven years ago.

Hana Malá, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, explains, “Until now, most foreigners have been living here on long-term residency permits, often based on employee cards. This allows the majority of them to apply for permanent residency after five years.”

The Ministry of Interior estimates that up to 30,000 individuals will apply for permanent residency this year, marking a 28% increase compared to the previous year. In 2022, the Interior Department recorded 23,428 applications, slightly down from 24,113 the year before.

Malá adds, “The ministry’s forecast considers the potential increase in applications resulting from a significant rise in labor migration, particularly among labor card holders after 2015, especially in 2018 and 2019.”

While the surge in applications is not directly linked to the conflict in Ukraine, it may have some influence. Prior to the war, Ukrainians represented the largest group of foreign citizens in the Czech Republic with various types of residence permits. Given the situation in Ukraine, its residents may now be more inclined to seek permanent residence in the Czech Republic.

Passing the Czech language exam is no easy task. It is not merely a matter of demonstrating proficiency at the A2 level. The challenge lies in securing an opportunity to take the exam at all. Currently, all available dates throughout the Czech Republic for the remainder of the year are fully booked.

Over 20 institutions in the country conduct Czech language exams for foreigners, including regional cities such as Písek, Břeclav, Kolín, and Klatoví. However, there are currently none available in Pardubice and Vysočina.

Lukáš Vlček, director of the Regional Center for Education and Language Schools in Plzeň, confirms, “We strive to provide as many opportunities as possible, but the demand is substantial.”

The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops has also impacted the situation. Teachers who typically administer exams for foreigners have now begun teaching Czech to students from Ukraine alongside their regular duties. However, not all teachers have enough time to organize the exams.

To alleviate the situation, the Ministry of Education is seeking solutions. They aim to introduce two additional types of exams through a change in government decree. These exams would enable foreigners to prove their sufficient knowledge of the Czech language relatively easily. The proposed exams include a test for doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, as well as a more advanced Czech language exam for citizenship. Taking the latter exam in advance would facilitate future citizenship applications and increase availability of exam dates.

The Ministry of Education highlights that these changes will reduce administrative burdens for all parties involved and result in cost savings, as stated in their explanatory memorandum. Furthermore, efforts are being made to expand the options for taking the Czech language exams. Under a recently approved amendment to the law on the residency of foreigners, universities will be permitted to administer the exams if their curriculum includes Czech as a foreign language. It is anticipated that foreigners will be able to take these exams as early as October of this year.

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