The Czech Ministry of the Interior’s proposal for mandatory integration courses for expats living in the Czech Republic was finally approved after a few months-long silence. The courses started taking place on January 1 as originally planned and are mandatory for some non-EU expats who have received or will receive a residence permit in the Czech Republic after January 1, 2021.
Finally More Information!
While in September, some basic information was released, there were no details available until the end of the year. These details were released only shortly before the courses for expats were supposed to start taking place. These details included, for example, the price of these courses, or whether the expats in question will have to pay for them from their own pockets. In fact, for a long time, it was not even clear whether they would be even introduced in the first place, as the proposal was not approved until late November. Eventually, the Ministry of the Interior’s proposal was indeed approved and so they could start taking place from January 1, 2021, as planned.
Later some new information was published on the Ministry’s website too. This means that we finally know, for example, whether expats will have to pay for them themselves, how much they will cost, and so on.
Who Are These Courses For?
The first question you need to know the answer to is which expats are these courses mandatory for. These integration courses are mandatory for all non-EU expats who receive either long-term or permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic from January 1, 2021. These expats have to undergo them within one year from the date they received their permit.
This specifically applies to foreigners who receive:
- Long-term residence permit;
- Permanent residence permit for humanitarian reasons;
- Permanent residence permit for reasons worthy of special consideration;
- Permanent residence permit for foreigners whose stay in the Czech Republic is beneficial for the country;
- Permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic, for children of foreigners with a permanent residence permit and if the reason for the application was the family reunification of these foreigners in the territory;
- Permanent residence permit after the previous permanent residency permit issued to this expat was revoked, when they resided continuously for a period of six years outside the territory of the Czech Republic, that is when they resided outside the territory of the European Union for a continuous period of more than twelve months;
- Permanent residence permit after four years of continuous living in Czechia, in case of a foreigner residing in the territory after the completion of the procedure for granting international protection.
And what are the exceptions?
Besides defining the groups of expats who will have to undergo these integration courses, the government also specified the groups of expats to which the obligation doesn’t apply. One of these groups is, for example, expats who already underwent the course in the past or those who received a long-term residence permit or permanent residence permit before January 1, 2021 (the residence permit must also be still valid as of January 1, 2021).
Please take note:
Third-country nationals who were originally exempt from undergoing the courses but changed the purpose of their stay (e.g. those who originally came to Czechia to study but ended their studies, changing the purpose of their stay to “other” or “work”) in 2021 must also undergo these courses.
Similarly, those who originally came to Czechia on a visa but in 2021 switched (or are planning to switch) to long-term residence permit, and at the same time do not fall under any of the other exceptions (e.g. holders of long-term residence permit for the purpose of study), will have to take the courses.
Additionally, If you’re coming to Czechia on a government program and you’re bringing your family, your family members – if they own residence permits – must undergo these courses as well.
The obligation also doesn’t apply to foreigners who are holders of:
- Long-term residence permit for the purpose of study;
- Long-term residence permit for the purpose of protection in the territory;
- Long-term residence permit for the purpose of investment;
- Long-term residence permit issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic;
- Card of an internally transferred employee;
- Card of an internally transferred employee from a different EU member state.
The obligation to undergo the course also doesn’t apply to expats who on the day their residence permit was issued did not reach the age of 15, or who on that day reached the age of 61. Holders of employee and blue cards issued under the government’s Highly Qualified Employee and Key and Scientific Personnel programs aren’t obligated to undergo adaptation-integration courses either.
Reminder: EU citizens and family members of EU citizens and Czech citizens do not need to undergo adaptation-integration courses.
More About the Courses
The integration courses will take place at the Centres for the integration of foreigners (“Centra na podporu integrace cizinců” in Czech). There are 18 of these centres in the Czech Republic in total and it is entirely up to the expats themselves to decide where they will undergo these courses. They are divided into two groups: Courses intended for the public and courses not intended for the public. In order to register for the courses for the public, expats must:
- Register on the portal http://frs.gov.cz;
- Pay the amount of 1 500 CZK and they will receive a confirmation of payment;
- Registers for a specific course and – they will then receive a confirmation by email.
Though these courses are for expats, they are conducted in the Czech language. On the other hand, the courses will be translated into nine languages by a skilled translator. These languages are:
Foreign course participants to be won’t be able to access any specific information about the courses – such as available dates, location of the venue, etc. – until they pay for the course.
The course takes four hours and once the expat completes it, they will receive a certificate. The good news is that there is no test or exam at the end of the course and it’s only necessary to attend, present a residence permit and sign the attendance list and be present from the beginning until the end. Should the expat decide they won’t attend the course at all, they may be given a fine of up to 10 000 CZK. And that is quite a lot of money for not attending a course that takes only four hours within one day.