A Polish residence permit (residence card) is issued for stays exceeding 3 months and it entitles to:
- reside in Poland legally,
- in some cases also to work,
- travel to other Schengen countries** for the period of 90 days within each 180-day period and cross the Polish border without the need to obtain the visa.
Note: even though you can travel to other European countries, the Polish residence permit does not guarantee you the right to work in these countries. You should check the law in another Schengen state as it may be required to obtain a work permit or a residence permit of that country.
Residence permits are issued by Voivodeship Offices (pl. urząd wojewódzki) competent for the region of your place of residence in Poland, following a positive decision on the residence permit application. The plastic card is issued usually a month after the decision.
When and how to apply
You can apply for the residence permit at any time within your legal stay in Poland, at latest on the last day of the stay, that is on the last day of visa or previous residence permit validity date, or last day of the stay within the visa-free travel.
Note: it is highly recommended to submit the application form as early as possible as the procedure lasts several months. You are allowed to continue your legal stay and employment while waiting for the residence permit on condition that you have submitted the application during your legal stay in Poland.
How to apply:
- the application have to be submitted to the Voivodeship Office cempetent for the region (voivodeship) of your residence in Poland;
- register in the on-line system of the Office (if there is one) and reserve a visit at the Office;
- if there are no available dates before your legal stay expires, you need to send the application documents by post; this way prolongs the procedure;
- the minimum required documents to send by post are: the application form together with the required annex(es), copy of your travel document (passport), 4 photographs and the proof of fee payment. After up to three months the office will ask you to come to a meeting to bring all the required documents and leave fingerprints.
Types of residence permits
There are different types of residence permits that can be used in case of international scientists staying in Poland. The below permits are the most relevant options, also for PhD candidates and researchers' family members. When taking the decision which residence permit to apply for, you should consider the requirements, needed documents, as well as additional benefits that some permits result in.
This is a residence permit most suitable for scientists who are employed in Poland based on a work contract or carry out a scholarship/research project based on a different kind of agreement. In order to apply for this permit you need to:
- have a university title/degree (e.g. Master's) enabling commencement of a doctoral proigramme, and
- sign a specialcontract/agreement with a Polish research institution acknowledged by the Ministry of Interior and Administration - more about the contract.
The cost of residence permit application is PLN 340. In the residence card there is an annotaion: researcher andaccess to labour market.
The benefits stemming from having this type of permit are:
- family members (a spouse or adult children) can work in Poland in any profession without a work permit,
- scientists who have this type of residence permit with annotation researcher can travel to other EU countries for the purpose of conducting part of their scientific research for more than the standard 90 days. They can be acompanied by a family member,
- scientists who are about to end/have ended one research project can look for another job in Poland and for this need to obtain a special residence permit for 9 months.
This permit is also an option for scientists as it is not limited to any specific profession. The requirements are:
- a university degree,
- a minimum 1-year work contract,
- a remuneration that is not lower than 150% of the average salary in the Polish economy in the year preceding application for the permit; for applications filed in 2023 the salary should amount to PLN 9 500 gross monthly;
The application fee is PLN 440.
- this permit is grantred for a period of 3 months longer than the period of work,
- family members (a spouse or adult children) can work in Poland in any profession without a work permit
It is a common residence permit suitable for various types of jobs. The minimum remuneration has to be equal at least to the minimum salary for work in Poland which is currently in the year 2023 PLN 3600 gross per month (even on part-time employment and regardless of a contract type).
The application fee is PLN 440.
There are no specific benefits related to this residence permit as in the case of other permits above.
The residence permit for the purpose of study is dedicated to:
- full-time students in first-cycle, second-cycle, or long-cycle studies,
- doctoral candidates at doctoral schools or for doctoral studies,
- also for participants of preparatory courses for education at these studies.
All other forms of education at universities, such as part-time higher education, postgraduate studies, MBA programmes require applying for the residence permit due to other circumstances.
Application fee is PLN 340.
- full-time and doctoral students are allowed to work in Poland in any profession without work permit,
- holders of the residence card with annotation student can travel within the European Union for the purpose of study for a period longer than the standard 90 days.
A holder of a temporary residence permit for the purpose of conducting scientific research who has completed scientific research or development work may apply for a temporary residence permit due to "other circumstances" dedicated to their situation. Similarly, students who have obtained the university title of bachelor, engineer, master, master of engineer or the degree of doctor, can apply for the temporary residence permit due to other circumstances dedicated to graduates of Polish universities.
This temporary residence permit is granted for 9 months for the purpose of looking for a job or in connection with setting up a business in Poland, provided that the application is submitted immediately after the completion of research or study, during a legal stay in Poland.
The purpose of the permit is to enable the continuation of the stay to get acquainted with the situation on the Polish labour market or complete the formalities related to starting a business.
Application fee: PLN 340
A temporary residence permit for the purpose of family reunification can be granted to spouses (based on marriage recognized by the Polish law) or minor children of non-EU foreigners who, among other things:
- hold the temporary residence permit or a national visa for the purpose of conducting scientific research,
- temporary residence permit for the purpose of long-term mobility of a researcher,
- hold the EU Blue Card residence permit,
- the long-term EU resident's permit or the permanent residence permit,
- have the temporary residence permit due to other circumstances - for the purpose of searching for a job after completing research work in Poland,
- have been residing in Poland for at least 2 years on the basis of subsequent temporary residence permits issued for at least 1 year each.
In the application form for this residence permit, in the "Purpose of stay" section, you need to tick the box "stay with a foreigner" (pl. pobyt z cudzoziemcem). The residence permit can be applied for also in case when the spouse or children are outside of Poland. It requires having spouse's written consent to submit the application in Poland on her/his behalf. Then after arrival, it is still required to go to the Voivodeship Office in person to submit the application documents and finger prints.
The residence permit for family reunification gives spouses the right to work in Poland in any profession without the work permit.
In case of partners in informal relationships(not married) the residence permit for the purpose of family reunification cannot be granted. It requires applying for the temporary residence permit due to other circumstances, which requires more documents and does not provide the benefit to the partner of working without the work permit.
In the application form for this residence permit, in the "Purpose of stay" section, you need to tick the box "other circumstances" (pl. inne okoliczności).
Application fee in both cases: PLN 340
There are two types of residence permits issued to non-EU nationals allowing permanent residence:
1. A long-term EU resident's permit - issued to non-EU nationals who have resided legally and continuously in Poland for a period of at least 5 years; gives the right to stay for indefinite period on conditions of having:
- adequate income,
- health insurance and
- knowledge of the Polish language at at least B1 level.
2. Permanent residence permit - is issued only in specific cases, for instance to persons married to Polish citizens, children of Polish citizens, are refugees or have the Pole's card.
The below list includes the documents required for EACH temporary residence permit type:
- an application form together with the annex(es) - filled in in Polish; it is helpful to use the on-line application form of the Office for Foreigners. Remember to print it out to submit it at the Office meeting;
- 4 up-to-date photographs,
- copy of your travel document (passport); the original document to be presented during the appointment,
- payment confirmation: PLN 340 or 440 depending on the permit,
- proof of having health insurance and having paid the most recent monthly contribution - ask your employer to obtain the documents,
- proof of having enough financial resources to cover the costs of living in Poland. The required minimum monthly amounts are: PLN 776 for a single person or PLN 600 for each family member living in Poland; these are net amounts excluding the costs of acommodation;
- proof of acommodation and its costs: e.g. apartment rental agreement together with the most recent monthly bills such as electricity, gas, water, etc.
There are also other specific documents required depending on the type of the permit - see the grey tabs
an agreement/employment contract for the purpose of conducting scientific research or development works, concluded with a scientific institution approved for this purpose by the minister for internal affairs. The contract should specify:
- title or purpose of the scientific research or development work or its subject matter,
- obligation of the researcher to participate in the scientific research or development work,
- obligation of the scientific unit to provide appropriate conditions to fulfil their commitment,
- start and end dates or the duration of scientific research or development work,
- the salary of the researcher and other conditions of their work.
a written statement of the scientific institution to cover the costs related expulsion of the foreigner in case of their illegal stay in Poland;
an employment contract concluded for a period of at least 1 year and the grossmonthly or annual remuneration indicated in this contract, that is not lower than the equivalent of 150% of the average salary in the national economy in the year prior to signing the contract;
a document confirming higher professional qualifications, i.e., a university diploma or a document confirming at least 5 years of relevant professional experience;
- documents confirming that your employer has the financial means or sources of income necessary to cover the obligations related to your employment also confirming that they conduct statutory activity.
- a certificate from the university/doctoral school on admission to studies or continuation of studies, together with a printout of the student's periodic achievements card.
- in case of a researcher: a document issued by a scientific unit confirming the completion of research; regulations do not specify strictly the form and elements that this document should contain;
- in case of an alumni: a higher education diploma issued by a Polish university in the period immediately preceding the application. The document should confirm the fact of completing the studies/doctoral school allowing to obtain the respective professional title;
in case of both: documents confirming the fact of active job search on the Polish labour market (e.g., registration of a CV on recruitment portals, confirmation of sending job offers, confirming interviews with potential employers / contacts on employment) or the intention to start a business in Poland (e.g., business plan, starting activities to start a business).
- the marriage certificate (in case of married couples) recognised by the Polish law together with its translation into Polish made by a certified translator,
- the residence permit of the foreigner residing already in Poland (if received) - the one required as described above,
- a document confirming possession of health insurance e.g. covered by the foreigner's work contract,
- a document confirming a source of financial resources - e.g. spouse's work contract; in case of partners (not married) it is more complicated - see below*;
- a document confirming acommodation e.g. an apartment rental agreement where the family member's name is also mentioned,
- proofs of staying of the family members in a common household e.g. photos, bills, etc.,
- in case of the spouse staying outside of Poland - a written consent to submit the application on his/her behalf;
* In case of partner relationships (not married) it is required also to present as proof of financial resources: an annuity agreement concluded with the working partner, reported to the tax office together with documents confirming the amount of income earned by the partner.
- the documents should be submitted in the original or as a copy certified by a public notary,
- documents in a foreign language have to be presented together with a certified translation into Polish,
- submitted documents should be valid throughout the whole procedure.
Travel within the European Union
As a general rule, all non-European citizens who hold a residence permit or a visa issued by one of the 27 Schengen countries** can move freely within the Schengen area for up to 90 days within each 180 period. After the 90 days pass, one needs to return to the country that has issued the residence permit/visa.
In addition to the general rule, scientists (and their families) who hold a residence permit/visa with annotation "researcher" issued by one of the European Union member state are allowed to travel for even longer periods for the purpose of conducting part of their scientific research in another European Union* country. The periods are: up to 180 days (within 360-day period) within a short-term mobility rule and up to 360 days within the long-term mobility rule, respecting to the validity dates of visa/residence permit.
This means that having the Polish visa or residence permit (with annotation "researcher") allows you to travel to other EU countries to fulfill your research duties or participate in the study programme. Note that there are different requirements and procedures in each EU country concerning the use of the mobility rules, meaning that it may be required to either notify their immigration authorities before arrival or to apply for a residence permit upon arrival. Please check with the destinationa country.
A similar mobility rule up to 360 days is addressed to full-time students, including PhD candidates, who posses a residence permit/visa with annotaion "student".
* European Union (EU)
27 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
** Schengen area
the Schengen area includes 23 EU member states plus 4 members of the European Free Trade Association: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland (the last 4 countries do not belong to the European Union).