You came to Poland as a tourist, perhaps just to visit your partner, get to know the country, travel around Europe a bit… You were planning to stay here for no longer than the allowed 90 days, but something changed. Like many people before, being in Poland made you wonder if you would be able to stay here longer, get a job, learn the language, start a new life.
Is it possible?
Going back to your country and getting a visa would be very expensive and time-consuming. But don’t worry, there are ways to extend your stay in Poland without having to leave the country. Assuming you have around 30-60 days of your legal stay left (or even less! Some people make the decision to stay hours before their flight back to their country), here is a quick guide on how to go with it.
Choose a method to extend your stay in Poland
There are basically three ways of extending your stay in Poland: the extension of visa, the extension of stay in visa-free traffic and temporary residence permit (commonly referred to as Karta Pobytu).
Extension of a national visa or a Schengen visa
If you came to Poland with a visa that you got through a Polish embassy in your country, in some cases it will be possible to extend it. Those cases are strictly limited to situations where staying in Poland is:
- justified by an important professional or personal business
- events because of which you want to extend your visa occurred without your will and could not have been predicted at the time when you first applied for the visa
You can find further information on how to extend your visa here.
Extension of stay in visa-free traffic
If you came to Poland as a tourist in visa-free movement and:
➡ if you are from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Singapore or Uruguay, you can extend your stay in Poland to another 90 days. You just need to make an application and justify why you need to stay longer. Check how to do it here.
➡ if you are from Mexico, you can take advantage of a bilateral agreement that Poland has made with Mexico, stating that Mexicans can leave and enter Poland as many times as they want, and each time their 90-day stay as a tourist will be renewed. This means that you can leave Poland for 1-2 days, return, and you will have 90 days of a visa-free stay again. More information on how the bilateral agreement works can be found here.
Temporary residence permit
If you cannot extend your visa (for example because your reasons to stay in Poland will not be accepted as a justification for a visa extension), there is always a temporary residence permit, commonly referred to as Karta Pobytu (which in Polish means Residence Card). As soon as you apply for it, your stay in Poland will become legal till the day of issuing the decision.
Some basic information includes:
- A temporary residence permit can be granted only if there is a reason for you to stay in Poland for a period longer than 3 months
- You need to apply not later than on the last day of your legal stay in Poland (if you cannot do it, it is better to leave the country immediately, because even one day of illegal stay can have serious consequences for your future visits in the EU)
- The waiting time is very long. In theory, the decision should be issued within 2 months of applying, but in practice, people are waiting 6-10 months, or even for over a year
The first step is to find a reason for your stay. It can be:
- Business activity
- Education (e.g. Polish language course)
- Residence with family (including marriage with a Polish citizen)
- Academic research
- Being a scientist looking for work or planning to establish an economic activity
- Other circumstances
Each reason will need to be backed up with appropriate documents. You can find all the details regarding the requirements here.
The second step is to gather all the documents. You will most likely need health insurance, documents certifying a source of stable and regular income, a document confirming a place of residence provided, etc.
The third step is to find a way to actually apply before your stay as a tourist ends. Because of some recent changes, most of the Voivode Offices have now implemented online registration systems, and very often the next free slots are +/- 30 days away, which may be a problem for you. If you can wait that long, book an appointment as soon as possible.
If you cannot wait those +/- 30 days, there are other ways of submitting the documents:
- Send them by registered mail (registered! And ask for receipt confirmation – you will receive a small yellow paper to your mailbox once the Office receives your documents).
- Go directly to the Registry Office of the Voivodeship Office (without an appointment)
❗ ❗ ❗ Be careful: if you choose any of the alternative methods of submitting documents, they will not be verified and will not be certified to be true copies. It means you have to submit the originals, not copies!
You may also find useful our article about the Struggle of Applying for a Residence Permit.
One the Voivode Office receives your documents, they will call you in to take your fingerprints and/or ask you to provide any missing documents or correct the ones you sent. Remember to also ask them to put a stamp in your passport, which will confirm that you have applied in time and that your stay in Poland is legal (even though your visa or visa-free movement stay has expired).
If everything goes smoothly, within a few months you will have your residence permit. Remember that if you are under pressure, you can submit documents, and then amend your application, withdraw it and apply again, etc. The important thing is to never spend a day being in Poland illegally.
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