On 12 March 2022 the Polish parliament passed an act on assistance for Ukrainian nationals in connection with Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainians who left Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression, came directly to Poland and then declared their intention to stay in Poland, will have the right to legally stay in Poland for 18 months. To obtain the right of residence - as well as the many other rights, services and benefits associated with it - they will need to apply for a PESEL number, which will be possible from 16 March. The new law also applies to spouses of Ukrainian nationals not holding Ukrainian citizenship who came to Poland directly from Ukraine as a result of the war.
Under this law, companies and individuals providing assistance to refugees from Ukraine in the form of accommodation and food will receive financial assistance for up to 60 days to the amount of PLN 1 200 per month (approximately 250 EUR). To obtain this financial assistance, an agreement must be concluded with the commune. Accommodation and food will also be provided to Ukrainians by provincial governors and local governments. Further elements of the law include:
- Ukrainian nationals fleeing the war will gain full access to the Polish labour market (no work permit will be required) and the Polish health care system, and will receive a one-off cash allowance for subsistence, amounting to PLN 300 (63 EUR) per person.
- Children from Ukraine will have the right to attend Polish schools on the same basis as Polish nationals. Ukrainian higher education students will have the opportunity to continue their education at Polish universities.
- Ukrainians will be entitled to many social benefits, including 500+ (PLN 500 per child per month: approximately EUR 106), 300+ (PLN 300 per child per year for school supplies approximately EUR 63), family care support (for every second and subsequent child aged 12 to 36 months, to the maximum amount of PLN 12 000 per child: approximately EUR 2 553), nursery school subsidies, family benefits and social assistance. This is important because most refugees from Ukraine are currently women with children.
The new law was adopted almost unanimously - 439 deputies of Sejm (out of 460) voted for its adoption. It will apply retroactively from 24 February 2022.
On 18 March 2022, the number of refugees from Ukraine that had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border exceeded 2 million.
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