Refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine may have the opportunity to extend their temporary protection in the Czech Republic for another year, until the end of March 2025. This possibility is outlined in an amendment to the law known as lex Ukraine, which the Interior Ministry presented for inter-ministerial comments today. Temporary protection provides refugees with access to public health insurance, education, and the labor market. The proposal’s authors emphasize that given the current state of the war, it is unlikely that these individuals will be able to return home in the near future.
EU working groups reportedly support extending temporary protection until March 2025, and a political decision on the extension is expected at the EU level by the end of October. However, due to the timeframe, the legislative process cannot wait for the official decision of the Council of the European Union, prompting the timing of the amendment.
The Czech Republic has already granted temporary protection to approximately half a million refugees from Ukraine, with about one-third of them having returned to their home country. As of June 18 this year, 344,800 people, mostly women and children, had been granted protection visas from Ukraine.
Earlier reports indicate that about one-third of the refugees are children and young people under 18, while over two-thirds of the adults are women. The exact number of Ukrainian refugees currently residing in the Czech Republic remains unknown. Per capita, the Czech Republic has received the largest number of refugees from war-affected Ukraine among all Central and Eastern European countries. In terms of absolute numbers, the Czech Republic ranks third after Poland and Germany.
Temporary protection is currently indicated by a visa sticker in the refugees’ documents, valid until March 31, 2024. The Ministry of the Interior intends to follow the same procedure for the next extension, as it has proven effective this year. The proposal foresees a two-stage and longer extension process due to the significant number of individuals affected. Refugees will be required to register electronically by March 15, 2024, and schedule an in-person visit to the Ministry of the Interior office to obtain a visa label certifying their temporary protection until March 31, 2025. Failure to register by the specified date or to appear for the visa sticker marking by the end of September 2024 will result in the expiration of temporary protection.
Additionally, a questionnaire for statistical surveys will be a mandatory part of the registration process for the extension of temporary protection. The questions will pertain to the stay of those holding temporary protection in the Czech Republic.
The proposed amendment also addresses changes in the education system and the increasing demand for assistance from foreigners seeking to return to Ukraine. The Ministry of the Interior aims to establish a separate special program to facilitate voluntary returns and plans to seek approval from the Government for this initiative.