How is the Czech Ministry of the Interior (not) working: Thousands of immigrants´applications after the legal deadline in Prague

Fullfill the terms!

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).

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The Government Council for Human Rights dealt with immigrants´ rights issues

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.

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What does „citizenship“ mean?

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.

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ENAR´s Shadow Report on racism pictures Czech Republic´s background

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.

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New Czech Citizenship Bill

Stricter requirements and more uncertainty for Czech citizenship applicants – this is what brings the new Czech citizenship bill.

The government of the Czech Republic did not meet the requirements of many migration experts by approving a new bill on acquiring the Czech citizenship at the beginning of October 2012. It introduces several new conditions for those interested in becoming Czech citizen. At the same time the bill does not eliminate their legal uncertainty during the acquisition process as both the experts and representatives of migrants assisting nonprofit organizations have warned. They had suggested series of improvement proposals, but most of them hadn’t been accepted.

According to the new bill the Ministry of the Interior would still not be obliged to grant the citizenship of the Czech Republic to persons satisfying all legal requirements. Extensive powers of the government officials will be maintained.

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An interview with a Finnish expert on migration Prakash Dhakal

Prakash Dhakal

The anti-immigration program of the True Finns party attracted criticism from around the world even before the party received 19% of the votes in a recent general election in Finland. Yet, the current integration policies in Finland seem picture-perfect. This year’s Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) that was released last month positioned Finland in the fourth place among 31 countries in Europe and North America. Still, average unemployment among immigrants in Finland is almost 20%, while among Finnish citizen it’s barely 9%. A large number of the unemployed migrants are refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. The Finnish government has allocates a sizable amount of money to fix this situation. Last year it spent 35 million Euros on integration. This is more than ten times what the Czech Republic is willing to spend on integration efforts this year, while the number of migrants living in Finland is about half of those living in this country.

To get more of an insider view of the integration policies in Finland, we asked a Finnish expert on migration, Prakash Dhakal, who also spoke at a conference in Plsen on 19 April, entitled “Opportunities-Jobs-Integration”, which was organized by the European Contact Group (EKS). Read the rest of this entry »

Integrating immigrants: New study compares and ranks Czech Republic against other countries in Europe and North America

28 February 2011 – A new study published today by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group shows that the Czech Republic remains below the European average in integration of third-country foreigners. This group of 295,600 people represents 2/3 of all foreigners and 2.8% of the whole population in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is tied for 19th place in the ranking of the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX: MIPEX contrasts and compares integration policies across 31 countries in Europe and North America. The best overall score has been achieved by Sweden. The best ranking country of the Central and Eastern Europe is Slovenia.

The integration policies in the Czech Republic are rather unfavourable. According to MIPEX, the legal conditions in the areas of employment, family and education are well set up; however, the implementation and the discretion remain problematic. Access to the citizenship as well as political participation is also considered insufficient.

The study benchmarks whether governments grant equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all residents – international standards that have been agreed upon by EU Member States. These high standards are critical as successful integration helps create more competitive and cohesive societies. The major findings regarding the Czech Republic in this study include: Read the rest of this entry »

Czech government will give less than 40% of last year’s budget for migrant integration

According to the Czech Interior Ministry’s new conception of foreigners’ integration, which is currently in interdepartmental advisory proceedings, 10 million Czech Crowns (about 410,000 Euros) will be allotted to integration programmes for third-country nationals in the Czech Republic, which is less than 40% of last year’s budget for integration. The Interior Ministry, as the main coordinator of integration policies, will received 7.7 million Crowns (316,000 Euros), while the Education Ministry will receive 1.5 million (61,600 Euros), Regional Development Ministry 400,000 (16,400 Euros) and 150,000 (6,000 Euros) will go to the Ministry of Culture. The Czech Statistical Office is set to receive 250,000 Czech Crowns. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry declined to be considered in the appropriation of integration funds for administrative reasons. It is not yet clear how government officials will be fulfilling the goals of the conception with these funds. Read the rest of this entry »