Unlocking opportunity: student residence cards in Poland demystified.

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In Poland, any form of study is a basis for legalization of stay in the country. The easiest and most logical way is to obtain the appropriate visa. However, time passes quickly, and the first year will fly by, the visa will expire, and the student will again face the task of extending their stay in the country.

If we consider the option of getting a new visa, it would require returning home, submitting documents, waiting in line for an appointment at a visa center or embassy, and then waiting a long time for the application to be processed. Besides, there is always the risk of mistakes or failure, in which case you will have to start all over again. Vacations, which should be a time of rest, turn into a source of constant anxiety, and there is far from a 100% chance of making it back in time for the start of the new school year.

As an alternative, you can consider obtaining a residence permit – Karta pobytu (obtaining a karta pobytu). Who is eligible for a residence permit and how and where can I get this card? We will provide detailed information about it in this article.

Can I get a stay card based on my studies?

The ability to get a stay card depends on the type of education, and some questions can be answered unequivocally. Before we get into the details of stay cards for students, let’s take a look at the classification of institutions.

Students and other learners

In this context, the division of educational institutions and their students into different classes is not so important. The important thing is that training can take place:

  1. At the university as part of a full-time program. This also includes postgraduate and preparatory courses at these universities. Hereafter, we will simply refer to such students as “students”.
  2. Other types of study that do not fall under the definition of full-time study at a university (including postgraduate study and preparatory courses). Such learners will be referred to as “other learners”.
Everything that follows regarding students is precisely defined by the legislation. In cases involving other students, these rules apply in most cases. However, there may be nuances and internal regulations of voivodships or poviats that may significantly change these norms. In some cases, this may even result in the inability to obtain a residence card.

Grounds for obtaining a residence card for a student in Poland.

According to the legislation, there are certain grounds for obtaining a temporary residence permit:

  • Legal stay at the time of application (visa/no visa, previous cards).
  • Reasons for staying in Poland for at least 3 months (e.g. agreement with the university, study schedule, study program, etc.).
  • Availability of means to live and return home (income in Poland, money in the account, sponsorship, etc.).
  • Place of residence (rent, hostel, dormitory, etc.).

The exceptions are in cases of admission under visa-free stay. In this option, it is recommended to collect and submit documents immediately upon entering the country. The alternative would be to go out and open a visa.

How can a student get a residence card?

At this stage, the main difference between students and other students is the possibility to apply for a Zezwolenie na pobyt czasowy (temporary residence permit). Students are clearly entitled to such authorization, while other students must first inquire about the possibility of obtaining such a card from the Township Superintendent’s Office.

If it is possible to claim a residence card, the further steps and procedures are the same for all cases.

Step 1. Determining where to go

A residence permit card is a document that confirms the status of a foreigner. The status itself is called a temporary residence permit. This is also referred to as a temporary residence permit.

We need all this legal “mess” for one thing – to understand that we are talking about granting a residence permit, and the Office for Foreigners under the Voivode deals with this issue. This is where you should apply for the issuance of a residence card.

Why do we focus on this seemingly trivial fact? Many students, especially those who are new to Poland and do not yet know the language well, orient themselves by looking for the words “urząd” or “cudzoziemiec” and come to the offices of the headmen/poviats. There are also certain departments dealing with foreigners, but they do not deal with residence permits.

Issues related to obtaining an hourly residence card are dealt with only in the urząd do spraw cudzoziemców przy Wojewodzie. Even if the specific name of the office/department is slightly different, you need to understand - the granting of residence permits is handled by the Voivod.

Step 2. Filing the necessary documents

The first and foremost document is the application form – the so-called “application form”. Wniosek. This is a rather lengthy document, the form of which can be obtained from the ujenda.

There are precise rules for filling out the form, so before filling it out, carefully read the instructions (they are on the last pages of the form itself).

In addition to the application, the reasons for the stay and other parameters will need to be documented. The basic package looks like this:

  • I put it on my credit card.
  • Photo (4 pcs., up-to-date, taken according to visa rules).
  • Passport (copies are provided and the original is shown).
  • A document from the educational institution confirming enrollment or continued enrollment.
  • Proof of tuition if the type of study involves it.
  • Valid insurance.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to live, study and return home.
  • Availability of housing (rental agreement, etc.).

It should be understood that the Ugendas have the legal right to request additional documents if they deem it necessary. Also, the list may be adjusted depending on the Province.

One more point that we would like to draw attention to. There are discrepancies in the explanations of the specialized ministry. For example, proof of tuition is listed for students only. Confirmation of housing, on the other hand, is only with other students. Nevertheless, Ujendas require both documents in most cases, but can make do with the availability of financial resources if they will cover the potential costs.

Step 3. Waiting and status of the foreigner at this time

After submitting the documents comes the waiting stage, which is the easiest but longest. During this period, the Voivode has the right to request additional documents and/or clarifications and to verify the actual place of residence.

It is important to know the alien’s status before making a decision. If the documents are accepted for processing, the foreigner’s stay in Poland is legal, even if other types of permits (visa, visa waiver) are not available or have expired.

The Voivode shall confirm this status with the appropriate stamp in the passport. However, sometimes the stamp may not be stamped immediately but later (usually at the same time as the submission of biometric data), but the date on the stamp should correspond to the date of submission of documents, not the date of actual stamping.

A stamp in your passport represents convenience, especially during inspections. However, the temporary absence of a stamp does not make it illegal to stay in the country. In such a case, the foreigner, including students and pupils, may be issued a separate certificate of acceptance of documents or a copy of the entered application with a corresponding mark.

Step 4. Timeframe for review and readiness check

The processing of applications for residence permits takes a considerable amount of time. While “significant time” is not a legal term, we do not have specific data to provide. Due to the high workload of the ujendas across the country, especially in major cities, complaints about long processing times come from all sides.

Some voivodships are making attempts to remedy the situation, but there is no information yet on the concrete results of these efforts.

The actual waiting time for a decision on a residence permit application varies from 2-3 months in small communities to a year or even longer in large metropolitan areas. Previously, maximum time limits of 3 months were set, but officials often failed to meet them. In the latest editions of normative acts the terms are specified using “tricky” formulations, for example, “the review shall be conducted not less than one month”. However, there are a few proven ways that can help speed up the process of applying for a residence card.

You should use the methods provided by the appropriate agency to check the status of your request. This can include online inquiries, using the phone, or even visiting the office in person. Depending on the specific organization, different methods are available to clarify the status of your request.

Step 5. Decision

Decision on a request for a residence card is a positive decision. This document contains the information that the card will be issued, including the basis, date of receipt, and the next steps required to process the card. So far we are not reviewing rejections, so we assume the decision is positive and the foreign national will receive their card soon.

Step 6. Card payment

A fee of PLN 340 must be paid for consideration for a residence permit. Also, an additional payment of PLN 100 is required for the production of the plastic stay card itself.

Payment can be made in a variety of ways at different stages of the process. Usually the request fee is paid at the beginning of the process and is non-refundable even in the case of a negative decision. Payment for the card is made after a favorable decision (decisión).

Step 7. Obtaining a document and foreigner status

Having received a positive decision and paid for the card, the foreign citizen can pick up his document and receive congratulations from less fortunate acquaintances. He now has a Polish residence permit.

What it provides:

  • Unimpeded stay in the country without the need to obtain or extend a visa.
  • Unlimited number of entries – exits.
  • Visiting other Schengen countries in the 90/180 regime.
  • Other rights.

For how long do I get a residence permit on the basis of study?

It is again necessary to divide foreign nationals into students and other students and to specify that we will operate with the categories “in most cases”, taking into account the possibility of exceptions.

For other students, cards are issued on a common basis related to their education. Usually, the first card is issued for a maximum of one year.

Full-time residential students (and doctoral or pre-medical students) may receive cards for the foundations period plus three months. At the same time, the first card, for multi-year training, will be issued for 15 months rather than 12 months.

Grounds for refusal

We have already looked at the grounds and norms that need to be met for students to obtain a residence card. Violation or absence of these grounds may be cause for denial. The main reasons for rejection include:

  1. Incomplete paperwork.
  2. Incorrectly filled out application.
  3. Submission of forged documents.
  4. Loss of grounds (e.g., expulsion from an educational institution).
  5. Violation of the law.

It is also possible to be rejected by mistake. In such a case, there is an opportunity to appeal the decision and details of this are contained in this article.

Is it possible to extend the residence card?

You can, and often should. It has already been reported that the first card can be issued for no more than 12-15 months, but training can take several years.

If the grounds for the card are still valid, you can apply for a new (renewal) card. This document can already be issued for up to 3 years. If, for example, you have been expelled from the university – then you need to apply for the annulment of your residence card, because. there is no longer any reason to stay in Poland.


To summarize, the first step is to find out if there is a possibility of obtaining a stay card in a particular case. If a student has the opportunity to obtain a residence permit, it is recommended to take advantage of this opportunity.

Submit the necessary paperwork, communicate with the institution on any questions you may have, wait for decisio, and enjoy your college years.