Tourist visa and work permit – what the Polish Border Guard say

As announced in our last post, we want to share with you some first-hand information on work and residence issues. It’s based not only on legal provisions and acts but most importantly, on how the rules are being interpreted and implemented in practice. Especially when it comes to the Border Guard’s practice and approach.

Below you can read a couple of things that we were assured by one of the Border Guard’s officer dealing every day with foreigners and their employment issues.


No matter what kind of tourist visa you have, whether it’s short-term or long-term, issued by the Polish embassy or not, you won’t have any chance to get a residence permit. What may happen if you decide to submit the application?
There are two scenarios. Either you’ll get rejected after your case is properly processed, or the application will be canceled without considering, and without the right to appeal.


In the Act on Foreigners (Article 99.1, paragraph 2) you can read what types of visa are not accepted to apply for a work and residence permit. It’s a Schengen visa issued for “humanitarian reasons or business of the state or international obligations”. As there is no mention of a tourist visa, it suggests that you can freely submit an application even with a tourist visa in your passport. That’s what we’ve heard many times consulting different Immigration Offices. The reason is that not only they have to abide by the Act on Foreigners, but they also have to obey the commands of the Border Guard.


Not everyone knows that the Act on Foreigners isn’t the only one that regulates these matters. The Border Guard’s approach is based on the Act on Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions. Article 87.1, paragraph 12 says: “A foreign person may perform work in the territory of the Republic of Poland if he or she holds a work permit and visa, except for visas issued for the purpose of tourism, temporary protection, humanitarian reasons, business of the state or international obligations.”
That’s one of two reasons why you may be stopped and interviewed by the Border Guard shortly after submitting the application.
Another reason is so-called “misusing the visa”. It happens when the declared purpose of visit differs significantly from your actual purpose of stay. For example, it occurs if you got a short-term tourist visa to Spain and the next day after coming to Europe you apply for a Polish work permit. As we were informed directly by the Border Guard officer, it has become a massive practice in the Schengen zone and all such attempts of evading the law will be regularly combated by massive controls of workplaces.

We were assured that it’s not possible to change any type of tourist visa into a work and residence permit. Since some time we’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries about refusals due to these particular reasons. We’ve also heard that someone got the permit even though he applied on a tourist visa.
The conclusion is: you can never be sure what happens in your case. Very often what seems to be illegal becomes legal and vice versa, what applies in one office does not in another. Even the two crucial offices handling foreigners matters can’t cooperate and miss coordination between each other. You can get two contradictory opinions on the same matter from your local Immigration Office and Border Guard officers.

When can’t you apply for a work and residence permit?

One of the most confusing issues we’ve been facing over the last months is whether it’s allowed to apply for a Polish residence or work permit while holding a tourist or student visa or  Schengen visa issued by other EU country.  We’ve checked what the Polish law says, then contacted directly officers from Polish public offices and embassies just to clarify this issue. Here’s the result.

When can‘t you apply for a TRP?

Let’s have a look at the Act on Foreigners. It states clearly (Article 99) in which cases the application will be turned down. This happens if a foreigner is residing in Poland on the basis of:

  • a Schengen visa issued for humanitarian reasons or business of the state or international obligations,
    • a temporary residence permit issued for the purpose of appearing in person before a Polish public authority,
    • a permit for a tolerated stay, a stay for humanitarian reasons, asylum, subsidiary protection, and temporary protection or has been given refugee status,

Or if a foreigner:

  • is seeking refugee status
    • has been stopped, placed in a guarded center or under arrest or is prohibited from leaving the country,
    • is serving a sentence of imprisonment or detention;
    • is obliged to leave Poland within 30 days from the date of receiving a negative decision concerning his application for a temporary or permanent stay in Poland;
    • is residing outside Poland.

The conclusion is that you can apply for a Polish TRP if you have any type of a Schengen or national visa, except for those mentioned above.

However, the mere fact that you are allowed to submit your TRP application doesn’t mean that it’s going to be positively considered. Especially that in recent times the Border Guard has become very restrictive when it comes to controlling the legality of stay. We’ve heard about a few cases when foreigners with a tourist visa (issued by Polish embassy) have been interviewed by the Border Guard directly after submitting their applications and they ended up being deported from Poland.

Why? Because the declared purpose of travel differed from their actual purpose of travel. Imagine, you were supposed to come for tourism to Greece and now you’re are trying to get a job in Poland. Is that ok?

According to the Act on Foreigners – yes. That’s why you can submit the application and no Immigration Office would make any problems about that. The problem may appear though if the Border Guard starts investigating your case.

You may ask now, what should I do if I have a Schengen tourist visa and found a company willing to hire me? Will I face a threat of being deported from Poland?

Well, I asked the same question talking to the Immigration Office (Urząd ds. Cudzoziemców) and the Department for Foreigners at Urząd Wojewódzki in Katowice. And I was assured that one can apply for a residence permit as long as they have a valid visa. No matter if it’s issued by a Polish or foreign embassy, if it’s tourist, business or student visa. Why then, I asked, people in Warsaw or Kraków are being deported and their visas canceled? The clerk from Urząd in Katowice just replied that it never happened at their office and told me I should contact the Border Guard directly and try to ask them.

At first, the Border Guard officer told me exactly the same – there are no obstacles to apply for a residence permit in Poland while holding a Schengen visa issued by Germany or any other EU country. When I mentioned a story of those who did so and then ended up being deported, she got quite confused and started consulting the issue with someone else. In the end, I found out the following rule:

you can apply for Polish TRP having a non-Polish Schengen visa, but, on the other hand, when you overuse that procedure, then the Border Guard may interfere and cancel your application or even ask you to leave the country.

What does it mean to overuse the procedure? And why something that is legal and allowed by the Act on Foreigners is considered not fully legal by the Border Guard?

For example, you get a Schengen visa at the embassy (other than Polish) and then come directly to Poland in order to apply for TRP.  The Office for Foreigners accepts your application because your stay is fully legal. But is your visa being used for the same purpose you declared while applying for it? It’s clearly not. That’s the position of the Border Guard.

Accordingly, one cannot come to Poland with a student visa and after a month or two apply for a work permit.

At the end of our conversation, the officer advised me that the best way to get a work TRP is to get a work visa based on the previously issued work permit.

And here comes another point that for many remains totally unclear and confusing. Why my work visa got rejected after I submitted all documents including original work permit?

We heard about such stories happening in India, Morocco, Jordan and some other Middle Eastern countries. Of course,  such cases are outside of the  Border Guard competence so we needed to contact a Polish embassy official. We managed to talk to the Polish Consul in one Middle Eastern country and now we can share with you a first-hand knowledge.

Basically, a work visa may be rejected in three cases:


  • if  the work contract differs from in terms of conditions from what’s specified in the work permit;
  • if the conditions of employment are against the Polish Labour Code (Kodeks Pracy)
  • if the employer has a record for breaking the local labour law, falls behind in tax payment, employs illegally etc.


My question was, why the embassy puts itself in the role of the Labour Inspection that is intended to control the legality of employment? And why Urząd Wojewódzki is issuing a work permit if the conditions contained therein are against the labour law? He said that Urząd doesn’t care about that and therefore the embassy checks the conditions of employment and the credibility of the hiring company. If there’s something one may have reservations over, the visa is being rejected. Even if all the documents and original work permit were properly submitted.

All the above-mentioned stories, examples and information come down to one conclusion. It’s not the law nor this or that office that is to blame. The biggest problem is the disparity between theory and practice as well as striking lack of coordination between different Polish offices.  This poses a real challenge for all the foreigners who wish to stay and work in Poland, but this is exactly why we set up our office. If your case is one of the complicated ones, you can always contact us.

Anyway, we hope you find this short article helpful and useful with your current and future dealing with Polish embassies and offices.




2018 turns out to be a year of many changes in the Polish Act on Foreigners. On the 1st of January we had a partial implementation of new rules and now comes their complement with a bunch of important novelties.


1. One of them is the introduction of new types of a temporary residence permit for non-UE intra-corporate transferees (ICT). In layman’s terms, it’s dedicated to managers, specialists or trainee employees with an at least 12-month period of employment (6 months in case of trainee employees) whose parent company is located outside the UE and who are transferred to work in the company’s branch located inside the UE.

The maximum validity of the new permit is 3 years for managers and specialists, and 1 year for trainee employees.

Once obtaining an ICT permit in Poland you will automatically get the right to work in all UE branches of your parent company for maximum 90 days (short-term mobility permit). The only exceptions are Great Britain, Denmark, and Ireland that still haven’t implemented the Directive.

Accordingly, an ICT permit issued in any other UE country will allow you to be transferred to the Polish branch and work here for 90 days without the necessity of any additional permits.

However,  in order to be entitled the right to a long-term mobility (more than 90 days), you would have to apply for another type of residence permit that has just been introduced into the Act on Foreigners – a TRP for the purpose of exercising the long-term mobility in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer.


2. Another important change is abolishing the requirement to attach to the application for a work and residence permit the so-called „Informacja starosty” from a local Labour Office. Until today this was the crucial document that had to be submitted at the very beginning of the application process. Now, it can be done during the examination of your application.


3. Attaching a work contract to the application for a work and residence permit is no longer required at all. 


4. Graduates of Polish universities seeking a job don’t have to present a source of stable and regular income while applying for a temporary residence permit anymore. It will be required, however, to have financial means sufficient to cover the cost of living in Poland.


5. An EU long-term residence permit will be granted only to those applicants who are able to confirm their fluency in the Polish language at least at the B1 level with a relevant certificate. This rule doesn’t apply to minors under the age of 16.





If you were thinking of starting your own business in Poland, you must have heard about jednoosobowa działalność gospodarcza, which is basically a one-person business activity or self-employment. This type of company is by no means the most popular among both Poles and foreigners. By the end of 2017, a 3 millionth działalność has been registered, which is the highest score in Polish history! What makes it so attractive and can it be set up by everyone?


First of all, działalność is… not really a company. It has no legal personality (unlike LLC for example) nor it has to be registered in the National Court Registry (KRS). Simply because in the light of the law you and your działalność are one and the same natural person. This fact entails two very important points. First, while running this type of business activity you are liable for your debts and obligations with your entire property. Second, no corporate tax is applicable to działalność gospodarcza – you pay only a personal income tax (PIT).

Since we’re on the subject of taxes, we cannot forget to mention ZUS (The Social Insurance Institution). Each month you are obliged to pay about 1200 PLN as social and health insurance contributions. Although the good news is that during first two years of running your business, you pay so-called „preferential” or „small” ZUS which equals about 480 PLN per month.

Coming back to more pleasant aspects of działalność gospodarcza, it’s really easy and super fast to set it up. You can make the registration either at your local municipality office, or on the Internet, or even by phone. And it takes only a few hours to arrange the formalities and start doing business!

What about the initial fees and charges? There are no fees and charges! 

The final remark – using the notion „one-person company” or „self-employment” can be deceptive as it may suggest that you have no right to employ staff. As a matter of fact, there are no restrictions here and you do have the right to employ as many people as you wish. 

Well, now you may ask if this is an option available for all? Unfortunately, it is not. In order to register działalność, you have to be either a citizen of:

  • The European Union;
  • The EFTA (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland);
  • The United States;


  • a holder of valid Polish Card (Karta Polaka);
  • a spouse of a Polish citizen;
  • a spouse of EU citizens from non-EU countries.

This type of business activity is offered also to those foreigners who obtained:

  • a permanent residence permit;
  • a refugee status, supplementary or temporary protection;
  • a residence permit for a long-term EU resident;
  • a long-term EU resident status in other EU country;
  • a temporary residence permit granted in connection with family reunification;
  • a temporary residence permit granted in connection with taking up full-time studies.


If you cannot find yourself on the above list, it means that you can only take up a business activity in Poland in the form of:

  • Limited partnership,
  • Limited joint-stock partnership,
  • Limited liability company,
  • Joint-stock company.


We’re aware that this short note doesn’t exhaust the topic. So if there are any questions bothering you, please leave a comment or just contact us.

P.S. Yes, we do help with opening all types of companies mentioned here. 


How to look for a job in Poland?

We’re constantly asked if we provide work contracts or if we can somehow help to get a job. As we are not a work agency, the only thing we can do is to publish job offers that appear online and share some tips that might be useful in a job search process. Here are some of them.

First of all, you should follow all Facebook sites and groups that are full of offers and that recruiters visit regularly:

Careers in Poland 

Job Poland 

Jobs for foreigners in Poland

International Jobs in Poland

Foreign Language Jobs

and many of „Expats in…” Facebook groups.

If you find a job opportunity that you’d like to apply for, you should not only send your CV to the given address and wait for the reply. In practice, a large number of other candidates have taken the same step. You may attach a motivation letter in which you persuade your potential employer that you are the best candidate for the job. If there is no answer from a company though, do not forget that you can always contact the employer by phone, or even visit the company headquarters in person. All this to show that you are really determined to take up this particular job.

Additionally, you should also know about job fairs taking place in many different Polish cities. You can get more detailed information on the official page of Talent Days and Dni Kariery

If you are Polish university graduate, you can also seek help at Biuro Karier (Careers Office) that is available at the majority of universities, e.g.:

Biuro Karier – Warsaw University

Biuro Karier – Uniwersytet Śląski

Biuro Karier – Wroclaw University

Good luck!

4 ways to get a residence permit in Poland

Many of you keep asking us what is the best way to obtain a residence permit in Poland. In this note, we will try to show you four most common options that may be used as a basis for the residence permit.



On the one hand, a work contract is virtually a guarantee of getting the permit, on the other though, you have to get a job first, which for many is a challenging task. Here we share some pieces of advice about looking for a job in Poland. It’s definitely much more recommended to make some efforts and find a real employment than to buy a fake work contract from suspicious companies or swindlers. Not only because it’s illegal and can bring you more troubles than benefits, but also because the same amount of money you pay for the fake contract can be spent for instance on studies in Poland.



Being a student is also enough reason for being granted the residence card. It doesn’t matter what you study or whether the university is public or private. The only thing that matters is that you have to study on a full-time basis. One year of such studies on an average Polish university is a cost of 2000 euro.



Every foreigner can open a limited liability company in Poland. You only need a business idea and some money. But is that enough to get the residence permit? The answer is no. The Polish law clearly states what conditions have to be met by the company so its owner can successfully apply for the residence permit. What are these conditions?

  • the company has to generate income in the tax year preceding
    submission of the application of no less than 12 times the average monthly
    salary in the third quarter of the year preceding submission of the
    application, or
  • the company employs at least 2 employees who are
    Polish citizens or foreigners, who have the right to work in Poland without
    a permit, for an indefinite term and full-time work for at
    least one year preceding the application, or
  • the company possesses the means to fulfill the conditions defined above in
    the future or documents that confirm the execution of activities that will
    allow these conditions to be fulfilled in the future, in particular, those that
    contribute to the growth of investment, transfer of technology, the
    introduction to beneficial innovation or job creation.



The fourth most popular way to get a residence permit is to marry a Polish citizen. ِِAfter 3 months from the date of marriage you can submit your application, and after 3 years you are entitled to apply for a permanent residence permit.