Poland and Other Central-Eastern European Countries Focus on Their Global Mobility & Immigration Policies

In February 2024, Poland’s government revealed that it is working on a comprehensive migration strategy for the years 2025-2030, advertised as a “responsible and safe” approach. The Ministry of Interior and Administration plans to spend the first half of 2024 conducting consultations to learn the preferences and expectations on migration and foreigners’ employment from various stakeholders, including the country’s biggest employers and their organizations, as well the trade unions. This constitutes an opportunity for the key market players to voice their concerns with Poland’s current approach to workforce migration, which, while allowing employers to engage many international workers (Ukrainians in particular) easily and quickly, remains reactive, unpredictable and, in some cases, does not allow for advance job-structure planning. The new strategy is expected to result in a complete overhaul of the country’s legislation on foreigners, expected to enter into force mid-2025.

Waiting for the migration strategy, Poland continues to implement interim measures to adjust to the political and market realities, and recently extended the special solutions related to the right of residence and work of Ukrainian citizens until June 30, 2024, thus providing Ukrainians continued enhanced protections and easy access to the job market. Unofficially, the government has indicated it will further extend this protection to March 4, 2025, to match the recent European Union’s decision on a deadline for temporary special protection for those fleeing the war.

Other countries in Central-Eastern Europe (CEE) are also spending Q1 2024 updating their policies on global mobility and immigration policies. Lithuania has decided to combat the current market practice of obtaining residence permits for foreigners through so-called shell companies. New regulations will require that a company inviting and then hiring foreigners actually conduct business activities in Lithuania. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a ban on obtaining residence permits or a ban on revising any permits for six months.

Meanwhile, the Romanian government has backtracked on its previously announced increase in the work permit limit for non-EU nationals in 2024, and left the quota at the previous level of 100,000. As a result, employers in Romania are expected to find it difficult to recruit, especially as embassies are already significantly overloaded with the number of applications.

Latvia, in turn, continues its efforts to eliminate the Russian language from the public space in the country, and to use the Latvian language only. The impact on workplaces is significant and tangible already. According to the new legislation, the Russian language, with the narrow exception of certain professions, can no longer be included as a requirement in job offer requirements or job interviews in the ex-Soviet Baltic country. Latvian employers will no longer be able to discriminate against an employee or job candidate based on their lack of Russian language skills, unless it is specifically necessary for a particular job.

We will continue to monitor these immigration developments in CEE countries.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.