Regional map of institutions and their characteristics
As already mentioned, from the perspective of foreigners, the most important task of a Voivode is to conduct procedures related to the legalization of stay and work of foreigners.
Arrival in Poland is possible under visa-free travel or entry on the basis of a visa. Visa-free travel allows one to stay in Poland for up to three months, without the right to work. The entry on the basis of a visa is possible for the period of the validity of the visa - one year at the most. In turn, the foreigner's entitlement to work depends on the type of visa. As a result, in practice, every person who intends to stay in Poland for more than a year needs a residence permit in Poland and a residence card confirming the fact of having that permit.
The key entities involved in the process of legalization of the stay and obtaining the card are:
Voivodeship Offices – Departaments for foreigners
Office for Foreigners
Polish consular offices abroad
other entities whose documents are necessary to conduct the proceedings (Tax Offices, Civil Registry Offices, employers).
A person who comes to Poland (and has documented reasons for doing so) needs to apply for a residence permit. The first permit one can apply for is a temporary residence permit. It can be issued for up to three years. Permanent legalization of stay is possible only after a certain period of stay in Poland, provided that the foreigner has a regular source of income in Poland (long-term EU resident status). Legalization of foreigners for permanent residence is also possible if they have family ties with Poland (e.g. children of Polish citizens and their spouses may obtain the right of permanent residence). Departments for Foreigners in Voivodeship Offices deal with applications for residence cards. So there are 16 of them in Poland. In some voivodeships, departments also deal with citizenship matters. In the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, it is the Department of Nationals' and Foreigners' Affairs.
Polish law provides that, as a rule, taking up employment in Poland by foreigners requires a permit. Citizens of six countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Russia, Armenia) can work for six months without a permit - only on the basis of the employer's declaration of entrusting work to a foreigner. The registration of these declarations is handled by the Labour Offices. They are also responsible for issuing information from the staroste (so-called labor market test) that there are no potential employees among Poles or other persons who have the right to work without a permit in Poland. The information of a starost is needed in the majority of cases of applying for a work permit considered by Voivodes.
A person dissatisfied with the result of the permit procedure has the opportunity to appeal - the second instance authority in procedures related to the legalization of stay is the Office for Foreigners.
The Voivodes (social policy departments) are also responsible for supervising the implementation of integration programmes for persons under international protection. These programs are planned and implemented at the poviat level - by Poviat or Municipal Family Assistance Centers. However, the Voivode's task is to accept the programmes prepared at a lower level and to make funds available for them.
The Voivodes are also the authority competent to grant Polish citizenship to foreigners.
Script „Work with a foreign client” Author: Agnieszka Kosowicz