How is the Czech Ministry of the Interior (not) working: Thousands of immigrants´applications after the legal deadline in Prague
The ministry wasn`t in time to deal with almost 17 thousands of long-term residence and more than 7 thousands of permanent residence (i.e. long-term residence according to EU terminology) before the legally set deadline. The Department for Asylum and Migration Policy has 30 or 60 days to issue or prolong any visa or residence permit; however, in practice it takes many months or even years to do this. Migrants are waiting in doubt for half a year and sometimes even longer. How many applications were delivered and how many of them weren`t processed in a proper time you can see in the graph below. Part of this amount may consist of documentation of interrupted processes.
The long executive process has very negative influence on migrants` lives and also on their integration to the Czech society. If they are for example applying for permanent residence with the purpose of family reunification, very often they can`t live together with their relatives and they have to deal with the family situation provisionally. In the case that married couple has a newborn child during the long period of processing the residence application, the baby is coming to an uncertain space. The baby cannot obtain any residence status because the one of its parents are still not being processed. It makes difficult or even impossible any travels (to see for example the rest of their family abroad). You can hear more details in a radio feature about family whose children was waiting more than year to get a visa here (available in Czech only).
During three weeks of September and October, an intermediary agency called Cizinky na úklid (Foreigners for cleaning) was marketazing its services: they were offering services of migrant women for the households – discretely, for a really cheap price and without unnecessary bureaucracy. It was supposed to start its activities on the 15th of October. Fortunately it did not happen because the agency is not real.
It was “established” by non-profit organizations Association for Integration and Migration and People in Need, commentator Kateřina Kristelová and creative agency Ogilvy&Mather and Mather Advertures as part of a campaign promoting the rights of migrants-domestic workers and aiming to reach wider public. We would like to apologize to those who received untruthful or zero information in a few past weeks. Also we would like to explain our motivation.
The Council of the Government of the Czech Republic for Human Rights dedicated the latest meeting at 7th of October 2013 to the issues of immigrants´ rights. Topics such as migrant’s access to the health insurance, restrictions connected with employment of international workers and functioning of VISAPOINT system for visa applications in foreign countries have been discussed.
The proposal of the new Czech citizenship law caused a lot of controversy between the representatives of the Ministry of Interior, responsible for the proposal and migration specialists, NGO’s and activists. Although the proposal certainly brings few very welcome positive changes, like the possibility of double citizenship, some paragraphs have been criticized from many different points of view. But all of the critics agree in one point – a discussion about the very concept of citizenship must be opened and questions like „what does citizenship really mean?“ and „who’s entitled to be a citizen of a nation state?“ must be raised.
ENAR (European Network against racism), released the annual report on “Racism and related discriminatory practices in the Czech Republic” for the year 2011-2012; emphasizing public authorities´ main lacks and contemporary challenges.
The Report´s first aim is to investigate Czech society´s concerns (diversity perception, social welfare´ access, schooling, and so on) about Roma community and also migrants; giving, at the same time, an eye to Islamophobia and Muslims as a comparison between the minorities.
The final pronouncement of the European Justice and Home Affairs Council finally arrived: the “Smart Borders Package” will be adopted, together with the SIS II system. No chance for Bulgaria and Romania to enter in the Schengen zone, instead.
Last Thursday, the European Justice and Home Affairs Council was called to decide about the adoption of two innovative systems aimed to improve third country nationals´ mobility towards Europe: SIS II and the “Smart Borders Package”.While the adoption of those two items was more or less taken for granted, there was a bigger suspense regarding the Schengen enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania.
Next 7th March 2013, the Justice and Home Affairs Council will be called to make a core decision about the institution and the functioning of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), but it is also expected to discuss other topics like border controls for third country nationals or accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Area.
ILO´s Domestic Workers Convention has been ratified by first European country. Italy took the lead to improve its domestic workers living conditions and to protect their rights. A brief overview of Italy´s social and economic context that induced this decision is presented below.
´´Today, we are taking a historic step forward in the protection of workers´ rights, as we are legally recognizing the domestic work as a real and effective professional activity´´. With these words, Giulio Terzi, the current Italian Foreign Minister, has welcomed the Domestic Workers Convention. It is claimed to be a device for social cohesion and protection, but also an expression of civility for all the domestic workers.
Visapoint is an electronic system which register applicants for a long-term visas and residence for an appointment in the embassies of many countries. It has been available since 2009 with the aim to prevent long queues and untransparent procedures. However, the problem is that it is the only way to apply for a Czech visa – a method that is not always functional.
The problems of Visapoint have been present from the beginning. Mr. Pavel Pořízek from the Secretary of Public Defender of Rights wrote in an article on the web portal MigraceOnline about the functionality of Visapoint , saying: “It turns out that the problem with the functionality of Visapoint applies in particular to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (for certain types of visas and stays, as well as in other states, e.g. Vietnam). As one of the most striking cases, we can mention the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Lvov, with regards to application for visa/long-term stays for the purpose of family reunification (similar to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Vietnam). In the interim, ten attempts to register to apply for this type of visa/stay showed that it has not been possible to submit the application form since 1.4.2011, when the system was first Visapoint checked at the end of 2011.”
At a meeting on 8th August, the Senate Committee on Health and Social Policy refused to ratify the Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers, issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which the Czech government had previously recommended not to ratify. Legislators defend the decision by pointing out that “domestic workers are only a marginal group on the Czech labor market and that this issue relates more to developing countries.”
According to information from non-profit organizations, including the People in Need, however, domestic workers are by no means a “marginal” group. On the contrary, the number of foreigners working in Czech households is in the tens of thousands and likely to increase in the future.