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Foreign Doctors Will Not Have to Pass Czech Language Test for Permanent Residence

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In an upcoming shift in policy, doctors, dentists, and pharmacists from abroad applying for permanent residency in the Czech Republic will no longer be required to undergo a Czech language examination, starting from next year. The proposed amendment suggests that their existing approbation exam, a prerequisite for practicing their medical professions, will suffice to demonstrate their language proficiency. The government is expected to discuss this amendment to the regulation on language proficiency for permanent residence permits in the near future. The primary aim of this amendment is to simplify and enhance the situation for foreign medical practitioners and their families while streamlining administrative processes. According to official documents, there is substantial foreign interest in these exams, though the waiting period currently spans approximately five months.

Additionally, the amendment outlines a cessation of reimbursement by the Interior Ministry for the Czech language examination for permanent residence, effective from next year. Presently, the ministry provides CZK 2,500 for this purpose, with the fee set to rise to CZK 3,200 from January. Consequently, foreign applicants will be responsible for this expense.

Eligible for permanent residence permits after five years of residence in the Czech Republic or with a blue card, foreigners must substantiate their qualification through a Czech language exam demonstrating A2 level proficiency. Certain groups are exempt from this two-hour examination, including children under 15, individuals over 60, persons with disabilities, and those who have attended Czech schools for a minimum of one year or hold a high school diploma or state exam in Czech.

For medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, the amendment could enable recognition for permanent residency through an aptitude test specific to their fields, commencing next year. This step, as proposed by the Education Ministry, aims to enhance accessibility for foreign medical practitioners within the Czech healthcare system.

The aptitude test evaluates candidates’ knowledge of the Czech healthcare system and legal framework, as well as their professional expression in Czech. Comprising written, practical, and oral components, the examination involves responding to 200 questions in a two-hour written test. Dentists and pharmacists complete an oral examination within a day, while doctors’ oral exams extend to two days. Recent statistics indicate that 66 individuals passed the approbation exam last year, with 113 the preceding year. In 2020, the count reached 130, and in 2019, the total was 174.

The proponents of the proposal emphasized the need for a high level of Czech language skills to pass this exam. They noted that doctors and pharmacists consistently demonstrate fluency and clarity across various topics, surpassing the language proficiency required by the current examination.

However, the Czech Rectors’ Conference (CRC) raised concerns regarding the proposal. The CRC argued that the approbation exam signifies relevant education rather than linguistic competency. The CRC stated that the approbation exam holds a highly specialized nature and should not be equated with a Czech language exam.

The amendment’s foundation lies in the surge of doctors arriving in the Czech Republic through the highly qualified staff program, initiated in September 2019. This program replaced the earlier Ukraine quota scheme for workers, active since 2016. Proponents of the proposal believe this change will enhance conditions for foreign doctors, leading to improved benefits such as non-commercial insurance for them and their families upon obtaining permanent residency. This enhancement is anticipated to provide substantial cost savings and enhance the overall experience of residing in the Czech Republic for these medical professionals.


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