Not even within five months did Czech authorities give out 2,000 air tickets and envelopes with EUR 500 spending money that were to motivate foreigners who lost their temporary resident permit. Hundreds of foreigners, who – mainly because of crisis and lay-offs – lost their Czech resident permits are further staying in the country. They pass themselves off as students.
“Within the voluntary returns project, 1462 people have left the territory of the Czech Republic,” said Vladimír Řepka from the Interior Ministry referring to numbers from this year’s May. However, many more deprived foreigners stay in the country. And they are interested more in how to extend their stay here than in obtaining an air ticket to go back home. And mediators know this well. They have therefore inventively adjusted their services accordingly: instead of work they started offering student courses.
An Asian couple recently knocked on the door of Jan Kubíček’s office in the Counselling Centre for Integration. They came to introduce a plan to him on how to help foreigners with no job. “They suggested to me they would found a school or a retraining programme,” Kubíček said. The clients of the counseling centre were to be the future students. A school enrolment is namely a way for foreigners without job to legalise their stay in the country. “Of course the foreigners would have to pay for it. It wouldn’t be help in the true sense, rather a way to profit on people who have problems as a result of the economic crisis,” Kubíček said.
Dream of a castle
A firm called Kolp, which according to the business register has been involved in mediatory activities for 16 years, came up with a much more ambitious safety plan.
“We can offer long-term help when it comes to school entrance exams and paying of tuition fees. At the same time foreigners will be able to acquire temporary jobs, we will provide boarding for four years and all that for free,” said the offer that the firm’s executive director Zdeňka Kmošková sent directly to the Mongolian community in Plzeň.
She wanted to accommodate 100 people at a castle. However, in another email the offer had more realistic colours. “We would want USD 11,000 from each person and for that we will provide everything for free,” said Kmošková on the price of the four-year “all-inclusive” programme.
When the weekly Týden (pretending to be looking for accommodation for three foreigners) was interested in the details of the offer, she refused to help. “I need a bigger working group,” the firm’s reply said. As an initial input USD 1,400 per one person would be sufficient. “I would help them to get a bank loan and also a scholarship, I will help with paying off the debt,” said Kmošková promising that she would take good care of the castle’s tenants: she offers to pay them for the maintenance work on the former noblemen’s seat as studying would be only a marginal activity.
Not even experts are able to judge, whether the entrepreneur is rather a philanthropist or a gold miner. “Generally, I would warn foreigners against falling further into debt,” Tomáš Haišman from the Interior Ministry commented on the firm’s acting.
Import of technologists
Also analysts from the Interior Ministry have noticed the rising popularity of student visa. “Some embassies and consulates have been recording an increased interest in student programmes at certain educational institutions in the Czech Republic,” said a ministry report monitoring the awarding of student visa. In Vietnam, for example, applicants for courses are queuing in the Na Trang centre where the Technical University of Liberec is recruiting its students. And it is this university that has been recording an increase in the number of foreign students each year. The experience of Czech embassies and consulates abroad is that 70% of students know in advance that they will not complete their studies.