Residence Card (residence permit) in Poland for Ukrainian refugees

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What is a residence card for Ukrainian refugees? Who, when and how can I get this type of residence permit?

A special law aimed at protecting Ukrainian citizens provides for preferential legalization. This is talked about a lot and often, but another aspect, which promises to become extremely relevant after some time, is not discussed actively enough yet. I am talking about the residence permit and the residence card confirming it, which according to the same law Ukrainian refugees can get, and for three years at a time.


This article will consolidate all the available information on residence cards for Ukrainian refugees. The basis is the provisions of the Special Law (Spezustava).

However, it is clear that some aspects will be refined over time. There is still plenty of time to do this (we will see next that the nearest map may not be received until the second half of November 2022). When (and if) changes occur, this material will be updated.

For readers who have recently arrived in Poland and are still not familiar with the local terminology, let us remind you: a residence permit is a permission to stay in Poland for a long time, and a visit card is a document (plastic card) confirming this residence permit. It should be understood that in the following text both of these terms will essentially mean the same thing.

Who can get a residence permit for Ukrainian refugees?

In accordance with ust.1, art.38 Specustawy, persons whose stay in Poland is or was legal on the basis of ust.1, art.2 of the same law can count on this card. Recall that ust.1, art.2 are Ukrainians legalized according to the norms of the Special Law (received special PESEL / UKR status).

Two fundamental points are contained here at once:

  1. Firstly, only persons who have previously obtained the UKR status can obtain this residence permit. This is important because. Some refugees have obtained legalization of stay even without a special PESEL. Such people will not be able to apply for this type of residence card.
  2. Secondly, the norm applies both to those who have UKR Status (at the time of application) and those who had it earlier.

The second point is not very clear yet. On the one hand, the law explicitly says “there is or was a legal status” (jest lub był uznawany za legalny). On the other hand, how one can apply for a card if the status was (i.e. it is now gone) is not explained.

We can only speculate for now. Let’s immediately note the various trespassers, criminals, etc. – then we’ll see that they’re not entitled to a residence permit. That leaves those who, for whatever reason, have lost status. These can be persons of two main categories: those who left Poland for a period of more than 30 days (ust.2, art.11 Specustawy), and those who gained some other status during that time. Apparently, they can also count on residence permits for Ukrainian refugees.

Can non-citizens of Ukraine obtain this residence permit?

To answer this question, it is necessary to recall the provision ust.2, art.1 Specustawy:

“Whenever “citizen of Ukraine” is mentioned in this law, it is also understood to mean a non-Ukrainian citizen – the spouse of a Ukrainian citizen, provided that he or she came to Poland from the territory of Ukraine due to hostilities.”

There is also a separate indication for non-citizens of Ukraine who are family members of a Ukrainian citizen – holder of a Pole card.

To put it simply – if a foreigner is not a citizen of Ukraine, but on the basis of the norms of the Special Law received the UKR Status, he can count on a residence card for Ukrainian refugees.

How long do Ukrainian refugees get a residence card?

This question is pretty straightforward. The term of the possible map is explicitly stated in ust.4, art.38 Specustawy is three years from the date of the decision (decisia). It is emphasized that this type of residence permit is granted once.

What’s important here:

  • It does not say “up to 3 years”, but specifically “for 3 years”. That is, a lesser term is not implied.
  • You can only be issued a visit card once. Those who wish to stay further will have to find other ways to legalize.
  • The deadline will be counted from the date of the decisional release. Here, as in other cases with the cards, the concept of decisión is used, but further on we will see that there are differences in the very way of decision making, and they are very significant.

Another thing you should definitely pay attention to is the starting points for the various deadlines. In this case it is the moment of decisional release, but in other cases it will be other benchmarks.

When can I apply for residence permit for Ukrainian refugees?

This is an important point, and just addresses the timing confusion. Apply for a residence card for Ukrainian refugees (ust.7, art.38) Specustawy) can:

  • Not earlier than 9 months from the date of entry into Poland.
  • No later than 18 months elapsed from 2/24/2022.

Obviously, depending on the date of entry, for a particular foreigner it can be a different time interval, which will end for all at the same time: 24.02.2022 + 18 x 30 (according to the civil law of the Republic of Poland, a “month” in the laws is always 30 days) = 07.10.2023. If no changes to the Special Law are enacted.

Documents for obtaining a residence card for Ukrainian refugees

At the moment – this is the most uncertain question. The Special Law (indirectly) only mentions the statement. There are no other documents in question. But based on the logic of the process, and based on the norms of ust.2, art.38 Specustawy establishing that all unsettled points are resolved under the Aliens Act, it can be assumed that it will be required:

  • Application (which form will be used is not yet known).
  • Passport or (presumably) other identification document.
  • Document on the assignment of the UKR Status (special PESEL).
  • Photo.

On the need for residence, melding, insurance documents, income, stamp duty, card making fees, etc. – is unreported at this time.

Perhaps the most difficult will be the issue of a foreign passport. It is not a secret that many refugees entered Poland without this document and were able to apply for the UKR Status using internal Ukrainian passports or other documents. Whether it will be possible to apply for a card according to similar rules will be known later.

Who will not be issued a residence permit for Ukrainian refugees, and whose card can be canceled?

The following persons are not eligible for this type of residence permit (ust.4, art.38 Specustawy):

  1. Recognized as a threat to national security and public safety.
  2. Listed in the lists of persons whose stay in Poland is undesirable.
  3. Applied outside the statutory time limit (before 9 months from the date of entry or after 18 months from 24.02.2022).

In case of occurrence of the grounds specified in p.1 or p.2 during the validity of the already issued residence permit. Will lead to revocation of the residence card (ust.6, art.38 Specustawy).

How the request will be reviewed and a decision will be made (decisional)

The decision-making process on residence cards for Ukrainian refugees will be based on a specific technology, different from many other cases:

  1. Only two categories of questions should be considered: whether the applicant qualifies for the card (has or had UKR Status) and whether there are no grounds for refusal. The rest should not be taken into consideration (ust.5, art.38 Specustawy).
  2. The request is examined by the voivode in the place of the applicant’s actual residence (ust.8, art.38). Specustawy).
  3. The decision (decisio) is issued by the voivode on the day of the applicant’s application (ust.8, art.38). Specustawy).

That is, there should be no lengthy review. Immediately upon application, they will check for eligibility, contraindications, and if there are no grounds for refusal, they will issue a decisio.

There is no direct indication of this in the Special Law, but it is easy to assume that the absence of a complete package of necessary documents will be a reason for the inability to issue a decisión “here and now”.

Another point of principle is established by ust.9, art.38 Specustawy. Appeal to the Head of the Office for Foreigners, otherwise presumed ust.2, art.22 Ustawy o cudzoziemcach, it is not possible to use this residence card. The decision of the voivode cannot be challenged in higher instances.

Is it possible to work with a visit card for Ukrainian refugees?

Employment can be done without the need to obtain a work permit (of any type). This possibility is established for the entire duration of the residence permit, which is explicitly stated in art.39 Specustawy.


The Polish refugee card for Ukrainian refugees is a very convenient tool for those who meet the conditions and decide to stay in Poland for a long time. Not all the nuances are procedurally regulated yet, but they will be clarified over time. As soon as new information becomes available, this article will be updated and expanded.