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Continuous residence in Poland. What does that mean?

 When preparing a set of documents to the application for the long-term resident's EU residence permit or permanent residence permit (in some cases) a foreigner must meet the requirement of having a 2, 4, 5 or 10-year continuous residence in the territory of Poland and begins to wonder what is a continuous residence according to the law. As a rule, the list of documents includes the entry "documents confirming that the stay with the territory of Poland was continuous or documents confirming the reasons for interruptions in the stay". What kind of documents?

 The definition of continuous residence can be found in Article 195 (4) of the Act on foreigners and it reads as follows: if none of interruptions in stay was longer than 6 months and all breaks did not exceed a total of 10 months in the periods that form the basis for granting the foreigner a permanent residence permit, or no interruptions" unless the interruption was caused by:

  • performance of professional duties or the provision of work outside Polish territory under a contract with an employer whose registered office is located on Polish territory, or
  • accompanying a foreigner referred to in paragraph 1, by his spouse or minor child, or
  • special personal situation requiring the presence of the foreigner outside the territory of the Republic of Poland and lasting no longer than six months, or
  • leaving Polish territory in order to pursue internship or participate in the activities provided for in the course of studies at Polish universities.

This means that a foreigner cannot stay outside Poland for more than 10 months in the 2, 4, 5 or 10-year period before the submission of the residence application, if the departure is not documented for the reasons justified above, and none of the trips can be longer than 6 months.

Before submitting the application, the foreigner should make sure that all previous stays in Poland were on the basis of:

  • temporary residence permits,
  • pending of decision mentioned above,
  • visas,
  • visa-free travel regime,
  • documents mentioned above extended because of the pandemic special act.

In addition, you should be aware of the fact that not all the bases of stay are taken into account, and some of them are counting for half. So, for example, do not count as a continuous stay the following bases:

  • who is an employee delegated by the provider for the cross-border provision of services or a provider of cross-border services;
  • who resides in the territory of the Republic of Poland on the basis of the Schengen visa authorizing only the entry to the territory of the Republic of Poland and stay on that territory, issued for arrival due to humanitarian reasons, the interest of the state or due to international obligations, or
  • during the period of his studies in the Republic of Poland;
  • who was obliged to return and the period of voluntary return specified in the decision in this case has not yet expired, also in the case of an extension of that period;
  • who is obliged to leave the territory of the Republic of Poland in case of refusal or withdrawal of a residence permit, or in case of refusal or withdrawal of international protection, or
  • who is a member of a diplomatic mission or consular post of a foreign country or another person treated equally under the laws, international agreements and generally recognized international customs;
  • on the basis of a permit for temporary residence due to circumstances requiring short-term residence, or
  • in the course of the proceedings on granting the refugee status, if those proceedings were concluded with a refusal to grant the refugee status or subsidiary protection;
  • on the basis of permit to cross the border under the local border traffic.

For half of the period of residence in the territory of Poland is residence on the basis of a visa or permit for temporary residence permit issued for the purpose of study or vocational training, or in the course of the proceedings on the granting of refugee status.

It should be remembered that the document on the basis of which the foreigner resides in Poland is taken into account, and not the actual activity that he performs. This means that a working student who holds a residence permit for the purpose of studying at a university will have half the period counted, even if he works at the same time. If he has a temporary residence permit based on the work undertaken and in addition is a student - this period counts in full.

Visas, stamps in the passport, decisions of the Voivode are considered as confirmation of continuous residence. Sometimes it is worth keeping an old and invalidated passport, which contains the necessary visas and stamps as proof. In addition, the foreigner's trips are checked by the border guard at the request of the provincial office, to which an application for a long-term EU resident residence permit is submitted.