This post deals with the issue of acquiring permanent residency in Poland based on marriage to a Polish citizen.
What are the main conditions for applying for permanent residency as the spouse of a Polish citizen?
When it comes to applying for permanent residency in Poland based on marriage to a Polish citizen, the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland summarises the main conditions in this document (in English).
Section V1, Chapter 1, deals with the Permanent Residence Permit.
Point 1/(4) of Article 195 states that:
A permanent residence permit shall be granted to a foreigner for an indefinite time, at his/her request, if the foreigner had been married under Polish law to a national of the Republic of Poland for minimum 3 years prior to the date on which he/she filed an application for a permanent residence permit, and, immediately before filing such a permit, resided uninterruptedly in the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period of no less than 2 years on the basis of a temporary residence permit granted in connection with being married to a national of the Republic of Poland …
Well, my wife and I got married in 2015. It’s been around 22 months since she applied for a temporary residence permit. Hence, she’s within her rights to apply for a permanent residence permit, right?
I recently visited the Office for Foreigners in Gdańsk to see how soon my wife could apply for permanent residency. I assumed that the period of my wife’s temporary residency in Poland had begun on the day she received a stamp in her passport to confirm she’d submitted all the documents (March 10, 2020). However, the period of temporary residency begins on the date the permit is issued.
My wife’s temporary residence permit was issued in early December 2020 – nine months after she submitted her application. This is a ridiculous law. Still, I’m sure there are much worse cases of excessive processing times for residence permits than my wife’s.
How do the authorities define an”uninterrupted stay”?
A foreigner’s stay in Poland, which is the ground for granting him/her a permanent residence permit, is considered uninterrupted if a single stay outside Poland was not longer than six months at a time, and all the intervals did not exceed a total of ten months.
However, there are some exceptions which can deem these intervals void:
(1) performing professional duties or work outside the territory of the Republic of Poland, under an agreement entered into with an employer established in the territory of the Republic of Poland, or
(2) accompanying a foreigner referred to in subparagraph 1 by his/her spouse or a minor child, or
(3) exceptional personal situation requiring the foreigner’s stay outside the territory of the Republic of Poland, and lasted no longer than 6 months, or
(4) departure outside the territory of the Republic of Poland in order to attend internships or participate in classes provided for in the course of studies at a Polish university.
Which documents does the foreigner need to submit to get permanent residency in Poland based on marriage to a Polish citizen?
The procedure for obtaining a permanent residence permit takes place at the voivodeship Office for Foreigners competent for the foreigner’s place of residence.
A foreigner legally residing in Poland must submit the application no later than on the last day of a legal stay. In other words, the foreigner should apply for permanent residency on or before the last day of validity of their temporary residence card or visa.
The set of documents necessary to submit a complete application for a permanent residence permit through marriage to a Polish citizen are as follows:
- A completed application form – fill in the application legibly in Polish and in block letters
- A photocopy of a valid travel document (original available for inspection)
- Four current, undamaged, 35 x 45 mm colour photographs taken in the last six months on a uniform bright background, in good focus and clearly showing the eyes and face from the top of the head to the top of the shoulders, so that the face is 70-80% photography; the photographs are to show a person without a hat and dark glasses, looking straight ahead with open eyes, hairless, natural facial expression and closed mouth; the photographs should be permanently attached to the application by sticking them in a designated place
- Confirmation of payment of the stamp duty
- Current copy of marriage certificate – registered in the Polish Civil Registry Office (Urząd stanu cywilnego) and not older than three months
- Photocopy of your Polish spouse’s ID card
When applying for a permanent residence permit through marriage to a Polish citizen, can you do anything to shorten the time needed to process the case?
It is absolutely essential to submit the first four documents in the list above. These are a completed application form, a valid travel document, four colour photographs and evidence that you have paid the stamp duty.
As for the other three documents – confirmation of payment, a current copy of your marriage certificate and a photocopy of your spouse’s ID card – it is wise to submit them together with the ‘essential’ documents so as to reduce the amount of official correspondence and shorten the time needed to process the case.
My wife also submitted two photocopies of all the pages in her passport with stamps, annotations and entries. Sooner or later, the authorities will ask to see documents confirming that your stay on the territory of Poland was uninterrupted. If applicable, you should also submit documents confirming the reasons for staying outside Poland for longer than the interval periods previously mentioned.
Key recommendation – Enclose documents proving you and your spouse lead a shared life
Some seven months after filing her application, my wife received a letter from the Office for Foreigners in Gdańsk asking her to prove, through documentation, that she leads a shared life (wspólnego życia rodzinnego) with me. The following circumstances count as evidence that you lead a shared life with your spouse:
- Joint bank account
- Joint loan
- Evidence of joint ownership – car or property
- Photographs from various periods
- Child’s birth certificate
The letter also stated the following:
Nieusunięcie wymienionych braków w wyznaczonym terminie spowoduje rozpatrzenie wniosku na podstawie zgromadzonego w sprawie materiału dowodowego.
In other words, failure to comply with the Office for Foreigner’s request within the prescribed period (14 days in this case) will result in the application being considered on the basis of the evidence already collected.
What are the fees for a permanent residence permit in Poland?
At the time of submitting the application, the fee is 640 PLN. You can pay online to the Finance Office of the Voivodeship in which they live.
When the authorities have reached a decision regarding the application, 100 PLN should be paid for the issuance of a permanent residence permit.
If you have a representative, the stamp duty for representation is 17 PLN.
How long is a permanent residence permit valid for?
A permanent residence card is valid for ten years from the date of issue. After ten years, it has to be replaced. However, applicants do not have the need to repeat the entire procedure again to obtain a permit.
A permanent residence permit allows you to work in Poland without the necessity of having to provide additional documents. The annotation dostęp do rynku pracy (access to the labour market) is added to a permanent residence card.
Gaining permanent residency in Poland based on marriage to a Polish citizen entitles the foreigner to travel to Schengen countries for the purpose of tourism for up to 90 days during the period of 180 days.
On the basis of a permanent residence permit issued in Poland, the foreigner may not work in any country other than Poland.
The fee for replacing a residence card in the case of loss or damage is 200 zl.
In the event of subsequent loss or damage to a residence card, the fee is 300 zl.