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Legalisation of stay in Poland

    Beconing or being a doctoral candidate in one of Polish universities or research institutes does not automatically mean that one can enter the Polish territory. Here is what you need to do to make sure your stay in Poland will be legal.


    Once approved into the doctoral school you need to obtain a visa. This provides you the right to ask for entrance in Polish territory. There are two basic types of visas:

    • Schengen visa – which gives you the right to enter and stay in the Schengen territory for up to 90 days;
    • Polish visa – which gives you the right to enter and stay in Poland for up to a year.

    As education in the doctoral school lasts for at least three years (four in most cases), you need to obtain the Polish visa. To do so you need to go to the appropriate Polish embassy or consulate (in charge of your country of nationality) and apply for it. The length of the period for which the visa is issued varies – some embassies issue it for a year, some – for a shorter period – e.g. 10 months.

    To get a Polish visa one need to provide except for standard documents – such as passport, visa application, photograph, travel insurance proof and proof of payment of the visa fee also supplementary documents – such as a document confirming the reason for entrance into Poland, documents confirming having the appropriate funds to cover the living expenses. 

    In applying for a visa it is important to note that obtaining a visa is in the best interest of every doctoral candidate and he or she should make an effort to get one. The practices in reference to visa issuance may vary between embassies and consulates and the best way to prepare for the process is to see information at the embassy which will in charge of your application.

    Also one needs to remember that despite almost all doctoral candidates receive a scholarship, it is mandatory to present the separate document confirming the right to a scholarship and its height.

    In some cases waiting time for the appointment in the embassy is very long. In such a case the help of your university or research institute may be very appreciated. It can take the form of a letter confirming need to get a visa or intervention with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/embassy.

    Temporary Residence Permit

    As visa can be issued just for a year and cannot be extended (with minor exceptions) before your visa expires you need to apply for a temporary residence permint. The document can be issued for up to three years and gives you the right to stay in Poland. For a permit one can only apply while in Poland. The application should be submitted to the Voivodeship Office (Urząd Wojewódzki) where the applicant resides. TRP application must be issued in person.

    To get a TRP one needs to provide similar documents than when applies for a visa. In addition one needs to present documents confirming that he or she has a place to stay (e.g. lease agreement) and documents confirming the costs of living (e.g. the utilities bills). One needs to especially frugal in that as the offices tend to reject application on the basis that a person did not submit all required documents.

    The process of issuance of TRP tends to be time-consuming; sometimes it takes even few months. It is good not to wait until the last possible moment with an application. Also – if the process does not end before expiration of your visa – don’t worry – you stay in Poland legally as long as the process lasts (but if you leave you will not be admitted to Poland again). In case of rejection – you have 14 days to apply to the Foreigners Office in Warsaw (Urząd ds. Cudzoziemców).

    EU/EEA nationals

    EU/EEA nationals do not need to get any document to legalise their stay in Poland. However, within the 90 days from their arrival to Poland they need to register with the Voivodeship Office (Urząd Wojewódzki). The applicant needs to present to the office in person.

    Pole Card holders

    Being a holder of a Pole Card does not give the automatic right to enter Poland on other grounds that those applying to the rest of the foreigners (that is regulated on EU level). However, Pole Card helps in obtaining a visa – the holders can apply for it free of charge. Also Pole Card fuels the way to the permanent resident status and citizenship.

    Ukrainian nationals

    The stay of Ukraine nationals who entered Poland after the 24th of February 2022 is legal until at least for a year from that day. They do not need to apply for additional status. The information on how to extend the legality of the stay in Poland will be provided closer to the February 2023.

    Choosing Poland as a place for your doctorate is one of the best decisions you could have made. However keep the administrative rules and requirements to ensure it won’t be troublesome.

    Przemysław Mroczkowski
    University of Warsaw

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