News | MALnS

It's the right time to change attitudes toward foreigners

There are 280,000 foreigners living in Slovakia today. In a country with a population of 5.5 million people, this is not insignificant at all. With such numbers, we should finally realize that we need to change the law to make it easier for them to live in our country.

I have always been fascinated by the Foreign Residence Act (Act of PC). I know it by heart and in nearly 15 years of helping foreigners, I have encountered various examples that demonstrate the conservatism of its drafters. The law is a summary of national policies and EU directives that we were obligated to incorporate into our legislation, even if we had a different opinion. As a result, we have a law with curious and unbalanced rules, which is time to change.

Slovak men and women are better off not to get close to foreigners

Why am I talking about funny situations? Think about it. For example, I had a situation when two Ukrainian women were standing at two different windows in the police department for foreigners. One was the wife of a Czech, the other of a Slovak. The wife of the Czech applied as a family member of a Union citizen. She received the decision to stay automatically the day she applied. She liked the simplicity of the whole process, which she benefited from the EU principle of free movement of persons.

The Slovak's wife found herself in a diametrically opposite situation. She was applying for permanent residency and, in addition to a long list of documents with apostilles and court translations, she had to wait 90 days for a decision, with the police doing the proper checks to make sure it was not just a marriage of convenience.

But it's not just a matter of paperwork. EU citizens can obtain the so-called family reunification option not only for their legal spouses, but also for unmarried partners, if they can prove that they live together or are in a proper, officially confirmed relationship. More or less any relative in descending or ascending line, children under the age of 21, etc. can make such an application. It's a long list

(Section 2 (5) of the PC Act).

In Slovakia it is more complicated. For family reunification with a Slovak, the list is very short and includes only parents, grandparents and children under the age of 18 (Section 43 (1) of the PC Act). For example, I, as a Slovakian citizen, cannot apply for my sister, who is Crimean and disabled since birth. She has no one but me and my brother, who also lives in Slovakia. I can't even move her to Slovakia during the war. It would be possible if, for example, I had Czech citizenship and lived in Slovakia, but with Slovak citizenship it is impossible.

In such situations I really want to scream and ask that our Slovakia not protect me so much from foreigners.

Blue Card

However, in November 2021, the long-awaited new European Blue Card Directive was approved. It should help integrate highly skilled non-EU citizens who would like to work in a highly skilled job in one of the European Union member states, including Slovakia, and their families.

Each EU member state has two years to implement this directive into the law of residence for foreigners, so we have until November 2023. I'm not aware of any work being done on this change here. The Blue Card is a very good means of integrating, for example, IT specialists, doctors and other professionals who are in short supply in Slovakia.

For doctors from other countries, this is the only way to apply for recognition of their medical specialty (surgeon, gynecologist, etc.) using EU compensation mechanisms. Otherwise, they will have to reapply for the specialty, and if they are lucky, part of their specialty will be recognized. The new directive also takes into account people who have been granted temporary asylum, including female doctors who escaped from war. Military refugees in Slovakia cannot yet apply for a blue card.

Migrants, war refugees not only from Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees are an exception and have an interesting but very temporary status. They are outside the bureaucracy, and we have given them the most simplified form of residency with subsidies and health insurance. Temporarily, perhaps, because we hope they will return home quickly after the war is over. But we haven't given them the opportunity to go into business or apply for more highly skilled positions. I think we really don't want them to integrate.

The registration itself looks like a piece of paper that cannot be inserted into a reader, and so, for example, they cannot communicate with the authorities electronically. When it comes to mixed marriages, the situation is even worse. For example, the wife of a Ukrainian with Russian citizenship living in Slovakia cannot so easily apply for a residence permit. She would have to go to Moscow to get a national visa. I have dealt with two wives of Ukrainians who are Russian citizens and, moreover, one of them is at a high stage of pregnancy. The answer of the police and consular departments near the Slovak border (Vienna, Prague, Budapest, etc., as well as the consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in BA) was unequivocal - this cannot be done. Exceptions are apparently made only for drivers of international trucks or buses, which have a strong lobby.

We need an advisor for foreigners

About the need for an advisory board for the integration of foreigners I wrote in 2021. Now that the number of foreigners has rapidly increased, even doubled, it is logical that someone should address this issue and solve it to the satisfaction of the whole society. More than one hundred thousand emigrants have come to us, one third of them to Bratislava. The Bratislava region is becoming an international region with almost 8% of the population living abroad. At the end of 2022, we registered almost 280 thousand foreigners living in Slovakia. But it's as if we don't want to know and solve their problems. Our ill-conceived changes in legislation negatively affect Slovak residents with foreign backgrounds, and so we exclude or even separate them from our society, although the EU is rather in favor of integration or inclusion.

If we were able to create an advisory ombudsman for the war, why aren't we considering creating an ombudsman for the integration of foreigners?

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at