Last updated on May 31, 2019
Hello dear fellows!
In this post I’ll explain the process for getting a temporary residence visa in Poland on the basis of a marriage to a Polish citizen. On completion of the visa process, you’ll receive a card called Karta Pobytu Czasowego (Temporary Residence Card), or simply Karta Pobytu. I have to say that this is not the most pleasant process to go through. This is due to the time it takes and the current busy state of the Mazowiecki Urząd Wojewodzki (sorry for being realistic here). But if you have a valid marriage with your beloved partner, this is just a matter of effort and patience.
As a Brazilian, I could stay in Poland for up to 3 months as a tourist without a visa. Since I wanted to stay longer than that, and also because I wanted to work in Poland, I applied for a temporary residence visa. Now I have just received my second temporary visa. The process was pretty much the same as the first time round. My first temporary visa had a duration of 1 year, the second one is valid for 3 years – Yaaaay!
The official information about this process you can find under the following links:
However, there is some information that is not quite right in the English version of mazowieckie.pl (e.g. number of forms that they require). So I recommend you cross-checking the English and Polish version, and when something does not match, stick to the information of the Polish version.
Ok, let’s delve into the Nutshell section.
Who can apply for this type of visa?
Anyone who is married to a Polish citizen, and whose marriage is valid in Poland.
Since I am married to a Polish citizen am I entitled to apply for a permanent residence visa?
At first, being married to a Polish citizen only entitles you to apply for the temporary residence visa – which by the way allows you to work in Poland. To obtain a permanent residence visa in Poland, you must have been married for at least 3 years, and must have been living in Poland under a temporary residence visa on the basis of your marriage for at least 2 years – more on permanent visa on migrant.info.pl.
Polish citizenship by marriage: how does it work?
That’s another matter that does not happen straight away. After living for 2 years under under a permanent residence visa, you can apply for the Polish citizenship – more on citizenship on migrant.info.pl.
Do I also need to apply for a work permit if I want to work in Poland?
No! You do not need to apply for any other document, the visa itself (Karta Pobytu) is all you need.
Can I work as soon as I apply for the visa?
Unfortunately not, you have to wait until the process is over and you receive the Karta Pobytu.
Does this type of visa entitles me to work anywhere else in European Union?
No, with this specific visa you can only live and work in Poland. You’re allowed to travel around European Union as much as you want up to 90 days within a period of 180 days, but this visa does not entitle you to work in other countries. If your partner finds a job elsewhere in EU, you can move with him/her and apply for the visa in this other country, and only then you’ll be able to work there. Unfortunately, you’re dependent on your partner in case you fancy moving to another EU country.
Where can I apply for it?
You apply for it at the Office for Foreigners of the Voivodeship Office (Urząd Wojewodzki). Since I was in Warsaw, I went to the Mazowiecki Urząd Wojewodzki. If you’re in another city, I suggest you checking in this link what is the office most suitable for you.
Do I need to make an appointment?
Yes. Since recently the people from Warsaw can do it through the link http://kolejka-wsc.mazowieckie.pl/rezerwacje/. By the time I was applying for the visa, scheduling the appointment online wasn’t possible. I hope you guys can cope well with this new option. If you have troubles to schedule an appointment via the website, you can try reaching out to them either by phone (+48 22 695 67 71) or by e-mail ([email protected]). If you try to schedule it via e-mail, make sure you provide some information about yourself, such as full name, passport number, date of birth, and most importantly your phone number, since they might call you in order to schedule the appointment. More information about this can be found on mazowieckie.pl.
How much did it cost and how do I pay for it?
At the time of the application you need to pay 340 zł and you can pay for it either in the Office for Foreigners – where you apply for the visa – or via bank transfer (check it on this link for the bank information). Note that there usually is a considerable queue in the Office for Foreigners in order to make paymnents, I usually had a waiting time of 30 minutes. A second payment of 50 zł must be made by the time you’ll your Karta Pobytu, and the payment can also be made either in the Office for Foreigners or via bank transfer. Note that in this case the bank account is different from the first payment.
How long did it take the whole process?
The first time I applied for it, it took 4 months, while in the second time it took 5 and a half months. However, I have heard people saying that for them it took over 6 months to receive it. In general, unfortunately it seems that the process is taking longer and longer. Note that this refers to Warsaw, so in order cities you might get luckier.
What if my tourist visa expires during the process?
If that happens, you have no problem while you are in Poland. When you apply for the visa, they will stamp your passport informing that you’re going through this visa process – remind them of the stamp in case they do not do it. However, if you want to leave Poland this is a risk, since in other countries they might not recognize the stamp.
What if I indeed have to leave the country when my tourist visa is expired?
Guess what, that happened to me during my first application. There’s no such alternative document that they can provide you with to sort out this problem (I talked to many officers about it). But you can try to speed up the process, as I describe in the next question.
Is there anyway to speed up the visa process?
From what I’ve been through, there are two things you can do in order to try to speed up the process. The first one is making a formal request for acceleration of your process, and in order to do that:
- Write a letter explaining why you need to speed up your visa process (you need a genuine reason for that)
- Gather the proper documents that prove what you’ve stated on the letter
- Go to the Office of Foreigners and take a ticket number so you can deliver the documents
- When your time comes, tell the officer that you want to make a request for acceleration of your Karta Pobytu process and deliver the documents to him/her.
The second option is getting in contact with the officer responsible for you case via a web contact form. This can be done on this link. You just need to provide detailed information about your case. Afterwards, you can get some answers from the Officer, and hopefully speed up your process.
In order to apply for the temporary residence visa on the basis of a marriage, you must:
- Have a valid passport
- Be married to a Polish citizen
- Have validated the marriage in Poland
As described in mazowieckie.pl, the required documents you must bring with you when applying are as follows:
- 2 fulfilled application forms (get it here)
- 4 photos 35 x 45 mm
- 2 copies of passport (all pages) along with the original
- 1 copy of your beloved partner’s ID along with the original
- Marriage certificate (akt malżeństwa in Polish) issued not longer than 3 months before the day of the application
- Proof of payment for the visa (340 zl)
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of income
The last two items (proof of health insurance and income) are not mentioned in mazowieckie.pl, but the application form asks you about it, so it’s better to bring something with you that proves that. In the first time I applied for the visa I included a copy of my insurance card (my wife included me in her health insurance) and a copy of the employment contract of my wife as proof of income.
The second time I applied for the visa, I included a copy of the health insurance I received from my employer. I also provided a copy of my employment contract as a proof of income. In general, if you are not sure whether you need to bring something with you, just make a copy of the document and bring it with you along with the original. Better safe than sorry ;).
They have many requirements regarding how these photos should look like, as described in mazowieckie.pl. In short, the picture must be:
- Size 35x45mm
- Recent (not older than 6 months)
- Good quality and natural contrast
- Uniform background
You can also check the sample photos they have at this other link, which is meant for passport, but the instructions are basically the same.
Quick Tip – How to pay almost nothing for your document photos
On the post about how to exchange your driving licence for a Polish one, we gave a tip about how to get document photos paying almost nothing. All you need is a digital version of a photo that fulfills the requirements for the Karta Pobytu. Check it out the step-by-step guide.
This document can be issued at the same place where you have registered your marriage in Poland (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego). In Polish it’s called akt malżeństwa. Make sure you have one that was issued no longer than 3 months ago.
Scheduling an appointment
The very first step is to make an appointment. For that, access this link and follow the instructions. It’s hard to say when you’ll find a free schedule, but almost certainly you won’t be able to find a schedule for the next couple of weeks. The last time I did it, I found one for 5 weeks later. My recommendation is: as soon as you can look for a schedule, do it! While choosing the date, think about the documents that are still missing, and analyze whether you’ll be able to get them before the appointment.
When you succeed at making your appointment, you should receive an e-mail telling you the date, hour, list number and the location in the building (floor and room). In case you do not speak Polish, I highly recommend you bringing your Polish wife/husband along with you. The officers usually do not speak English, so having someone who speaks Polish can be very helpful.
What to expect on the appointment day
Once the day of your appointment has come, make sure you have all the documents with you. If you have not payed for the process yet, arrive early enough before your appointment to make the payment. The step-by-step below describes the day of the application:
- When you arrive at the Office, look for the room number for your appointment.
- On the wall of the room they have some papers which are the lists. They contain the name of the people who have appointments for that day.
- Look for your list and then for your name to make sure everything is right.
- You can wait outside the room, from time to time someone will come out and call someone’s name.
- Pay close attention every time one of the officers come out of the room. They might not specifically say your name (it was my case). Instead, they will ask who is scheduled for that specific time and has not been called yet. (By the way, they are punctual about this schedule, so don’t be late! I have gone through this process twice, and in both times they were punctual.)
- Once your time arrives, the officer will get the documents from you, one at a time.
- He/she will collect your fingerprints.
- He/she will stamp your passport. This stamp is very important, since it states that you’re going through the visa process, and that entitles you to legally stay in Poland. If the officer does not do it, kindly ask him/her for it.
- On completion of the process, the officer will give you two documents:
- A document proving that you have applied for the visa.
- A document containing login information for you to check the status of your application on this website.
Some weeks (or months) later, they might call you and ask for you and your partner to come to the office again for an interview. If you do not speak Polish, they will ask you to bring someone to be your translator – it can not be your husband/wife, or anyone from his/her family, so just bring a Polish friend. They will interview both of you separately, and they will ask the same questions and check whether they match. The questions can be about how you have met each other, how long you’ve been together etc. All these effort just to prove that your love is true 🙂 and that you did not marry each other only to get the visa.
How long the whole process will last? This is a tricky question, because lately they have not been able to cope with the number of applications. As I said before, my first application took 4 months, but I’ve heard of people who have waited for over 6 months!
Receiving the Final Decision
One shiny day you’ll hopefully receive information stating that the final decision of your case was made. This can be in a form of a call or letter. Sometimes they might call you from an unknown number so better pick these up. If it was positive, they will provide you with information regarding time and room to pick up your Karta Pobytu. Remember to pay the 50 zł fee regarding the Karta Pobytu issuance, and go happily receive your temporary visa. For me this was a long journey, so receiving the Karta Pobytu was like winning the Champions League 😉
This is not an easy process but I tried to make your life easier by answering as many questions as I could, and also by detailing the whole process. In case you still have some doubts, or something wasn’t clear enough, just leave us a comment below or reach us out via the About Us page. We’ll be glad to help you out 🙂