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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

800 plus only for Ukrainians studying in Poland. New criterion

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On Tuesday, the government adopted a draft amendment to the law on assistance to Ukrainian citizens. The regulation extends temporary protection for people fleeing war until September 30, 2025. The changes also assume the introduction of an additional payment criterion of 800 plus for Ukrainians.

The draft amendment to the act was created in cooperation with, among others, with the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Health and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. The Act, with the exception of certain provisions, would enter into force on July 1, 2024

Changes in the 800 plus payment for Ukrainian citizens

The project extends temporary protection for Ukrainians fleeing the war. This protection was introduced by the Council Implementing Decision (EU) of March 4, 2022, stating the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons. According to the proposed changes, the stay of Ukrainian citizens who have been assigned a PESEL UKR number will be legal until September 30, 2025.

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One of the most important changes to be introduced by the project is the linking of payments of the 800 plus benefit and the Good Start benefit with school obligations. According to the proposal, this benefit will be awarded to persons living with a child in the territory of the Republic of Poland if the child fulfills the obligation to prepare for kindergarten or the obligation to study, unless the child is of an age when these obligations do not apply to him or her or have been postponed.

– We will continue support related to social assistance, family policy and access to education. But in the act presented today by Minister Marcin Kierwiński (head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration), we are introducing changes to the currently applicable regulations, especially in the area of ​​education – said the Deputy Prime Minister, head of the Ministry of National Defense Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz.

He added that many people reported that they were receiving benefits and were immediately sent to Ukraine.

– We tighten the system and make it more transparent. We will support Ukrainian citizens who had to flee the war and took refuge in Poland, but we also expect clear and explicit rules. This is all in the act that the government adopted today, said Kosiniak-Kamysz.

Changes in the Good Start for Ukrainians program

Benefits from the Good Start program will be granted on similar terms, i.e. one-time support in the amount of PLN 300 for students starting the school year. Payment will be suspended if the fulfillment of the obligation to prepare for kindergarten or study is not confirmed.

Last week, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Maciej Duszczyk discussed the reasons for introducing this regulation at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Family, Senior and Social Policy.

– We are the only country that has a hybrid system, which is about 200,000. there are children in Polish schools, but we do not know for sure how many are outside Polish schools, i.e. study in the Ukrainian system – he said and noted: – We must ensure that there are equal rights for Polish, foreign and Ukrainian children. This is not punishment, it is equalizing the law.

Learning Polish in a new way

The amendment also indicates a maximum 36-month period during which students may participate in additional free Polish language classes. The solution will apply to students who started participating in classes in 2022-2023 and 2023/2024.

As written in the Regulatory Impact Assessment, actions aimed at increasing the number of children and students from Ukraine in the Polish education system in the 2024/2025 school year may result in the emergence of an additional approx. children and students, which – as noted – requires securing an additional amount of approximately PLN 425 million for next year, and approximately PLN 1.1 billion in 2025. In turn, extending the possibility of using additional Polish language lessons to 36 months requires planning approximately PLN 150 million for 2024 and PLN 375 million for 2025.

Moreover, the proposed regulations assume continuation in the 2024/25 school year abolition of the requirement to confirm knowledge of the Polish language, in the case of employment as a teacher's assistant or intercultural assistant, a person who does not have Polish citizenship. However, a person employed in this position must have knowledge of the Polish language in speech and writing to the extent that allows him to help a student who does not know the Polish language or knows it at a level insufficient to benefit from learning.

The proposed regulation also provides for the exemption of students from Ukraine from the obligation to take the eighth-grade exam in Polish in the 2024/2025 school year.

Temporary residence for 3 years instead of temporary residence

According to the proposal, from next year it will be possible to change the residence status from the current temporary protection to temporary residence for a period of three years. Changing the status to temporary residence will be possible for Ukrainian citizens if the following conditions are met:

– completing and updating all necessary data in the PESEL UKR database at the commune authority; – submitting an electronic application to the voivode; – having an active UKR status on March 4, 2024 and on the day of submitting the application; – provided that the services responsible for security do not raise any objections to the change of residence status. After successfully completing the procedure, a Ukrainian citizen will receive a residence card with the annotation “previously had temporary protection.

Assigning a PESEL number only with a travel document

However, the proposed regulation assumes the introduction of new rules for confirming the identity of a Ukrainian citizen applying for a PESEL number. The only way to confirm your identity is to show a valid ID travel document.

Pursuant to the provisions contained in the draft amendment, if the PESEL number was assigned on the basis of other documents, including the Pole's Card, another document with a photo enabling identification or a document confirming birth, a citizen of Ukraine is obliged to confirm his or her identity in any municipal authority on the basis of valid travel document.

This obligation will also apply to citizens of Ukraine who were assigned a PESEL number on the basis of an invalid travel document or whose travel document has expired.

Changes in the allocation of financial support, including for food

The proposed regulation also assumes that from July 1 this year financing support in the form of accommodation and food for refugees from Ukraine who are in a particularly difficult situation will only be possible on the basis of a signed agreement with the local voivode or local government body acting on the voivode's order. The rules for participation in the costs of stay and meals in collective accommodation centers will also change, so that the collection of due subsidies will be more effective than currently.

The project also assumes the extinction of cash benefits related to compensation for the costs of stay and food for war refugees incurred by owners of private premises. As of July 1, support for financing photography and a one-off cash benefit of PLN 300 will also expire.

The Commissioner for Human Rights' comments on the proposed changes

The provisions of the proposed act raised doubts among the Commissioner for Human Rights, who noted in his comments on the proposed regulation that the obligation to present a valid travel document may prove impossible to meet, especially by people with disabilities, seniors and people with limited mobility or illnesses.

The Ombudsman also pointed out that in the case of Ukrainian citizens who received a PESEL number on the basis of a declaration or document other than a valid travel document, neither the deadline for fulfilling the obligation nor the consequences of failing to do so were indicated.

According to the Commissioner for Human Rights, making assistance dependent on having a valid travel document may lead to premature returns of refugees from Ukraine belonging to groups particularly vulnerable to social exclusion, for whom obtaining a document is impossible for reasons beyond their control.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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