As indicated by the latest NIK audit (here), Polish Voivodship Offices (Urząd Wojewódzki) are still unprepared for the large number of applications for residence permits. You can wait up to 3 years to get a temporary residence permit (Residence Card). In the Lower Silesian Voivodship alone, it takes as long as 328 days on average to legalize your stay in Poland. However, in accordance with Polish law, these matters should be dealt with within 30 days.
Such long delays may cause much trouble for foreigners in Poland, as their unsolved residence status may cause much uncertainty and difficulties in everyday life. This does not mean, however, that there is nothing they can do about it.
What can I do when the proceeding in my case is taking too long?
- The basic way to speed up the proceeding is to submit a written reminder, specified in art. 37 § 1 of the Polish Code of Administrative Procedure.
In the case of a temporary residence permit proceeding, a reminder is submitted to the Head of the Foreigners Office in Warsaw. This letter must meet the statutory requirements detailed in the Code of Administrative Procedure, including the right statement of ground relating to the date by which the case should be settled due to applicable regulations.
- If the submitted reminder does not resolve the matter (or if the Head of the Foreigners Office does not respond within 14 days of submitting the reminder), then you should file a complaint for inaction or protracted administrative proceedings to the Provincial Administrative Court (Wojewódzki Sąd Administracyjny),addressing the appropriate justification and legal basis.
To properly prepare a reminder or complaint for inaction or protracted administrative proceedings, it is well advised to seek assistance from an attorney-at-law.
What can you expect after submitting a complaint for inaction or protracted administrative proceeding?
- First of all, after considering the complaint, the court will order the voivode to deal with your case within the specified time (usually 14 or 30 days),
- The court may grant you a compensation for inaction or excessive length of proceedings (protraction).
How much compensation can the court grant you? What it depends on?
Pursuant to Polish provisions, the court may award you a sum of money of up to a maximum of PLN 22,925.
Current rulings of administrative courts show, that this compensation is usually awarded in the range of PLN 2,000 – PLN 8,000. The circumstances of your case may affect the amount of compensation, i.e:
- very long waiting time for issuing a temporary residence permit,
- the length of periods of waiting for subsequent office activities (i.e. there are long periods of inactivity between letters from the office),
- no information from the office about the reasons for delays,
- inability to contact the office and obtain information on the status of the case or the current deadline,
- any inconveniences caused by the lack of a Residence Card, e.g. difficulties in dealing with official matters, inability to leave Poland to visit your family, inability to go on vacation, fear of being dismissed from work, inability to change of work easily.
When is the right time to file a complaint for inaction or protracted administrative proceeding?
First of all, you can only make a complaint after you (or your lawyer) have properly submitted the reminder.
Secondly, for a complaint to be effective, there must be an inactivity or a very lengthy proceeding on the part of the administrative office. Pursuant to the applicable provisions, in case of submitting a residence permit application by a foreigner, pursuant to art. 35 § 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, settling a matter requiring explanatory proceedings should take place no later than within a month. In the case of a particularly complicated case, it should be dealt with no later than within two months of the date of initiation of the proceedings.
So, if the matter was not settled within the above deadline, it may be considered as an inaction. Nevertheless, if the proceedings take longer than necessary to settle the matter, this may always be considered as a protraction.
As the judgments of administrative courts aptly point out:
“Protracted conduct of proceedings occur when the authority can effectively be charged with failure to exercise due diligence in organizing administrative proceedings in such a way that it ends within a reasonable time or accusation of carrying out activities (including evidence), devoid of any significance or illusory.” (Judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Wrocław of 10 January 2019, reference number III SAB / Wr 116/18)
“For the admissibility of an inactivity complaint, it does not matter for which reasons the specific act (decision, order, other act) has not been taken or the act has not been carried out, and in particular whether the inaction of the authority was caused by the culpable or innocent slowness of the authority in taking or making them.” (Judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw of June 27, 2008, VI SAB / Wa 36/08, LEX No. 513865)
What if I get a residence permit after submitting my complaint? Does this mean that the complaint will not be accepted?
No. As the practice of courts so far shows, in order to determine whether the complaint is justified (and thus whether it is possible to obtain compensation), only the moment of filing the complaint is relevant. Even if the decision on the permit has already been issued, this does not change the fact that the office acted very slowly and was inactive or protracted. Therefore, it is still possible to obtain compensation.
As stated in the framework of the NIK audit mentioned at the beginning, the number of complaints about inactivity or lengthiness is growing rapidly. In 2018 alone, 101 judgments were handed down, and a further 183 complaints were pending.
Would you like to know more? Do you want to speed up your case and get due compensation?