The requirements regarding work permits for Poland vary depending on an expat's nationality.
European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens do not need a work permit to be legally employed in Poland, while non-EU citizens are required to hold a work permit to do so.
Since Poland officially became part of the EU in 2004, efforts have been made to standardise the work permit process. Rules and regulations are becoming more closely aligned with the directives used by other continental European countries.
Types of work permits for Poland
There are a few types of work visas for Poland, but most new arrivals wanting to work in Poland will apply for a Type A visa, which allows expats to work in Poland if they are employed by a Polish company. Expats who sit on management boards typically apply for a Type B visa, which allows them to live in Poland for six months or more during the course of a year. Otherwise, the Type C work permit allows expats to work in Poland for a company that is not Polish.
Applying for a work permit for Poland
Most employers apply for their employees' work permits on their behalf, as it is necessary for an employer to first establish an expat's "permission to work" from a provincial government office, known locally as a voivode office. This application must also be made at the office in the district where the expat is to take up employment.
For this reason, most of the burden of organising the work permit falls on the shoulders of the hiring company. The company must present a good deal of documentation, detailing its legal status, its income and losses, information relating to the company's number of employees, and most importantly, the fact that there are no other qualified Polish workers who could adequately fulfil the position in question.
Although this removes a lot of pressure from expats, it also means that companies often choose not to hire foreigners, as the process of filing paperwork can be resource consuming.
Work permits are issued for a maximum of three years, at which point they can be renewed accordingly.
One large restriction that many expats are unaware of is the fact that work permits for Poland are job- and employer-specific. Consequently, if an expat wishes to change employers while living in Poland, it's necessary to reapply for a work permit.
Once "permission to work" is granted by the voivode office, expats can apply for a formal visa at the Polish Consulate in their home country, or apply for a residency card within Poland.
*Regulations for work permits are subject to change at short notice and expats should consult their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
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