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Poland’s legislators continue to work on draft new Foreigners Act

The Sejm committee is working on the draft new Foreigners Act. In the course of the committee’s work in the last week, Sejm deputies incorporated in the draft several recommendations presented by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Association for Legal Intervention.

One of the most important amendments brought forward by the NGOs and adopted by the committee is the provision which gives foreigners subject to return proceedings the right to court. The draft law provides that an expulsion decision shall be suspended automatically in the event a complaint against it is filed with an administrative court, together with an application to suspend its execution.

“This is a significant change since it had been proposed for many years by non-governmental organisations who claimed that the expulsion of a foreigner before their case is heard by the court deprives them of the right to court, which is guaranteed in the Polish Constitution”, says Ewa Ostaszewska-Żuk, HFHR’s lawyer.

The draft law also limits the possibility of expelling a foreigner working illegally in Poland in the situation where an employer misled them or abused their subordinate position. The currently applicable law results in the fact that foreigners hardly ever report violations of their rights by employers to state institutions, for example to the National Labour Inspectorate.

“We believe that this amendment will help to better protect this group of foreigners and to punish dishonest employers”, explains Ewa Ostaszewska-Żuk.

The draft law also abolishes the requirement that permanent and long-term EU residence applicants must have a knowledge of Polish confirmed by a certificate.

However, although some recommendations suggested by NGOs were included in the draft law in the course of the committee’s work, the Act does not significantly change the model of Polish immigration policy. Besides, not all amendments proposed by the HFHR and ALI have been approved by the committee.

First of all, the committee did not adopt a complete ban on the detention of children, which the organisations have been suggesting for years. Further, it did not limit the requirements for obtaining a work permit, which still bind the employee to a particular job, nor did it adopt a permanent mechanism allowing, in special cases, for legalisation of stay of foreigners who do not have a visa or a residence permit.

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