Poles living in the East can apply for Polish Charter

It is already possible to apply for the Polish Charter. Among other things, the document will facilitate education in Polish schools and institutions of higher education, performing work without the appropriate work permit, and running business.

The law on the Polish Charter of 7 September 2007 becomes effective on 29 March 2008. According to provisions thereof, persons who document the Polish origin of their ancestors, live in the countries of the former USSR and fulfil the defined conditions (cultivation of Polish traditions, basic knowledge of the Polish language), will be able to receive the document known as the Polish Charter. It will be issued by the relevant consul and its holders will receive the following authorisations: exemption from visa fee, the right to education in Polish institutions of higher education and schools, the right to work without the appropriate work permit, the right to run business, reduced fares in railway transport (37% in slow, fast and express trains), medical aid in emergencies and free admission to state museums. The appellate entity from the consul’s decision on the refusal of granting the Polish Charter is the Council for Poles in the East appointed by the Prime Minister and serviced by the Office of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Department of Complaints, Motions and service of the Council for Refugees).

The layout of the Polish Charter document has been prepared by the Document Personalisation Centre (CPD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration and it is similar to an ID card.

The procedure of granting the Polish Charter begins with filing by the applicant a filled form together with annexes (documents confirming Polish nationality or citizenship of the applicant’s ancestors). If the applicant has no such documents, he/she can present a certificate from a Polish or Polish Diaspora organisation confirming his/her active commitment in favour of disseminating the Polish language or culture or Polish national minority through the period of at least 3 years. The organisations authorised to issue such certificates are enumerated in the Prime Minister’s announcement (they were proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and expressed consent for carrying out activity in this respect). Later, the consul has a conversation with the applicant during which he checks the basic knowledge of the Polish language and the knowledge of Polish traditions and customs. If the consul finds out that the applicant fulfils the conditions stipulated in the law, he takes the decision on granting the Polish Charter. The consul registers the motion and the information about the decision taken in the consular register (the register is in the computer application form).

The information about the decision taken is being read in Warsaw by the CPD and the Polish Charter is being issued based on it. Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributes the Polish Charter to consular offices. After its reception, the consul hands it in to the applicant.

In the case of a negative decision, the applicant – by the consul’s hand – can launch an appeal procedure to the Council for Poles in the East.

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