Temporary protection. How to get, extend or terminate it?

How to stay legally in the Czech Republic if you have fled the war in Ukraine? Apply for temporary protection status or its extension. It will bring you a range of benefits – from access to the labour market to free movement within the European Union. In cooperation with Mária Fančovičová and Matěj Šulc from the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU), we have summarised a few things you should know about temporary protection.

Temporary protection is the best option for a residence permit

Compared to other types of residence permits, temporary protection gives you several advantages. “You automatically have access to the labour market and are entitled to humanitarian benefits, you get access to medical care, you can receive social benefits and gain access to the registry of applicants at the Labour Office,” says lawyer Mária Fančovičová from the OPU. Moreover, it is currently not possible to apply for a traditional visa. “In most cases, a standard visa is granted within the territory of the home country. Given the situation in Ukraine and the desire to protect consulate staff, such a procedure is now impossible outside of student visas. Moreover, the granting of long-term residence permit or a long-term visa does not usually guarantee free movement throughout the EU or automatic access to the labour market,” explains Fančovičová. Temporary protection status is therefore the most advantageous – and basically the only way – to stay legally in the Czech Republic after arriving from Ukraine.

Temporary protection is an EU crisis mechanism that is activated in exceptional circumstances in the event of a mass inflow of people, with the aim of providing immediate and collective protection to displaced persons and reducing pressure on national asylum systems in EU countries. Most often, these are nationals, members of their families or permanent residents if they were residing in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 or left Ukraine shortly before that date,” adds lawyer Mária Fančovičová from the OPU.

However, if you do not qualify for temporary protection, for example because you are overlapping in another country or because you do not meet other conditions, you can also apply for a “bridging visa”. “A bridging visa is granted to people who cannot return home because of an obstacle beyond their control, such as war. However, entering the labour market is more complicated in this case, and it is granted rather exceptionally,” adds Mária Fančovičová.

Did you know that…

Temporary protection status is set out in a 2001 European Directive. It was adopted in the context of the large-scale displacement that occurred as a result of the armed conflicts in the Western Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo,” says Mária Fančovičová from the OPU. For a number of lawyers and state employees, this is a completely new situation and they are learning to work with the measure as they go along. “New specific cases, for which there is no precedent, are constantly emerging. It is also difficult to predict how the state will treat people, who forget to renew their temporary protection but still remain in the Czech Republic. What will the penalties look like? No one has any idea yet, although the law is clear: the right to extend temporary protection in such a case expires, and so does the protection itself. People may thus fall into illegal status,” warns lawyer Mária Fančovičová of the OPU.

Is this your first time applying? Visit the contact points in person

You can apply for temporary protection at one of the Regional Assistance Centres for Ukraine. Remember that you are only eligible if you have lived in Ukraine until 24 February 2022, or left Ukraine shortly before that date and arrived in the Czech Republic after that date. You are also entitled if you were granted international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022. In such cases, the application for temporary protection and its extension is also possible for your relatives, who stayed with you in Ukraine and subsequently left the country together with you.

You may also be granted temporary protection if you were in possession of a valid permanent residence permit in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, and you are unable to travel to the country of your nationality or part of its territory, and are therefore at risk of danger.

Have you already got temporary protection? Don’t forget to extend it in time

Those who arrived in the Czech Republic after the outbreak of the war are eligible for an extension of their temporary protection status at any time until the end of 2022 – for them, temporary protection will now expire in March, and all of them will have to extend it for another year. In comparison, people who arrived from January 2023 onwards will automatically receive extended temporary protection until March 2024,” Fančovičová summarises.

You must apply for an extension online via the Ministry of the Interior’s information portal no later than 31 March 2023, after which you will be allocated a date for a face-to-face meeting. “When registering, you will need to provide your personal details, your place of registered residence in the Czech Republic, and, if applicable, the address and name of the school or kindergarten where your child is registered for compulsory attendance. Alternatively, you can also provide contact to the person under the age of 18 for whom you are applying for an extension of temporary protection,” says Matěj Šulc, social worker at the OPU, providing examples.

When you meet in person at the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (OAMP), you will be asked to show your travel document to prove your identity, provide proof of residence in Ukraine and proof of accommodation. This can be, for example, a lease agreement or a written confirmation from the owner. “If you represent a person under 18 years of age, you must submit a document proving such authorisation,” says Šulc.

It is important to remember the PIN from the email that the portal generates after registration. “It acts as an imaginary password for the OAMP meeting and can be used, for example, to change the date of the meeting. Nevertheless, we do not recommend postponing the visit if possible, as the capacities of the individual offices are very limited,” emphasises Šulc. By registering and booking an appointment, the temporary protection is extended until 30 September 2023.

Do you have a person in your network who doesn’t use online tools?

The Caritas of Archdiocese of Prague is present at the OAMP workplaces (Lublaňská 5/57, Cigánkova 1861/2 and Žukovského 888/2. Please consult with them about the next steps.

Will temporary protection status be extended beyond March 2024? No one knows yet

“All procedures and legal matters depend on geopolitical events and the development of the war,” says OPU lawyer Mária Fančovičová. “No one can predict the development of the conflict, including whether the temporary protection status will be extended again. Another question is how the Czech Republic will treat those, who want to stay in the country after the conflict ends,” Fančovičová adds. For example, whether the person concerned has mastered the language and the extent to which he or she has integrated into Czech society could play a role. Another factor is whether he or she has children who attend Czech schools.

What if you want to end your temporary protection status?

Complete the declaration, a sample of which can be found here. “It is not a problem to reapply for temporary protection. However, it is essential to withdraw in time, so that the person concerned does not incur any debts in the Czech Republic and accrue a debt with, for example, a health insurance company,” advises lawyer Mária Fančovičová.

What about trips outside the Czech Republic?

Ukrainian nationals are considered to be visa-free travellers. You can move freely within the European Union under the temporary protection status. You can spend up to 90 days on the territory of other Schengen countries every 180 days. “The same rule also applies to a visit to Ukraine. If you are going to Ukraine for more than 30 days, you must report this at least to the insurance company or the Labor Office, especially if you are self-paying health insurance and could increase your debt,” Fančovičová recommends. Before going to Ukraine for an extended period, always call the Ministry of Interior information hotline. More information can be found here.

Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU)

If you need advice on a residence permit or work-related legal issues, you can contact the OPU. “We offer consultations on the rights and obligations of people who have fled the war, opportunities for legalisation of residence and other areas, including visas or asylum. Each case is examined according to local and international law. For us too, the war-related situation in Ukraine is new, which is why we analyze every case individually,” says legal expert Mária Fančovičová on behalf of the OPU. The organization also focuses on the victims of other international conflicts, and offers assistance to third-country nationals who are afraid of persecution. Besides, it covers cases of more vulnerable clients, such as those whose sexual orientation is different. Here is a list of places where you can reach OPU.


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