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HFHR addresses Ministry of Interior in the case of foreigners without travel documents

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights sent a letter to the Minister of Interior calling for explanations regarding the situation of foreigners without a valid travel document issued by their home country. The absence of such a document substantially hinders the process of obtaining a fixed-term residence permit from the Polish authorities.

Under article 60(5) of the Foreigners Act, a foreigner applying for a fixed-term residence permit must produce a valid travel document. If the person does not have or cannot produce a valid travel document, he or she may present other valid identity document. However, from observations of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, public administration bodies recently have been demanding that the applicants prove their inability to obtain a passport by producing a relevant certificate from the embassy of their country.

In a letter dated 18 September 2012, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights pointed to the fact that embassies of many countries decline to execute such certificates and only verbally refuse to issue a passport. At the same time, administration bodies do not accept verbal explanations from foreigners. The refusals of a travel document are based, for example, on the applicant’s failure to perform the obligatory military duty in his country of origin, which often happens when he had left the country as a minor registered in the parent’s passport.

If the Polish administrative body decides that a foreigner failed to prove that he or she has been unable to obtain a travel document, the application is not reviewed because of its formal defects that cannot be remedied in due time. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights knows about cases where the long-term, legal stay of a foreigner has been terminated because of this practice. The letter emphasised that the presented problem is of a systemic nature. In consequence, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights urged the Minister of Interior to take action to solve the problem.

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