Remember the days when you would shudder at the thought of making a trip to the Foreign Police, and perusing through the Expats.cz forums would only make you more nauseous and hopeless? Well, fear no more—the new and improved Foreign Police experience has arrived. Not only will you not have to camp out from 3am outside their office doors in the middle of Žižkov, unable to even think of sleep as your translator snores contentedly beside you, but the shiny, new waiting room even features a cute window display of children's drawings as a gesture of friendliness. Imagine that.
If you've never had to endure the terror of the Foreign Police visit, lucky you. If you want to get a glimpse, or relive the horror, check out this YouTube video. The FP made some changes awhile back. In December of 2008, a new list announced that citizens of 30 various countries were to be shifted over and up to an office in the adjacent building, while the citizens of Russia, Ukraine and several other nearby Slavic nations would remain in the original building.
Of course, there is not so much to do when you register a visa—after all, the worst is over, as long as you get this taken care of within three business days of picking up the visa from the Czech Embassy where you applied for the visa. For the registration process, all you will need to do is fill out three short forms of basic personal information, present your proof of insurance and give your podpis (signature) a couple of times. Then stamp, stamp, stamp--and it's all over.
A brief overview of the visa application process
For those of you who don't already recite the Schengen visa rules in your sleep, here's the basic idea:
You must first determine if you need a short-term (under 90 days) or long-term visa (over 90 days). Short-term visas require fewer documents to be submitted, while the documents submitted for a long-term visa depends on the very important 'reason for long-term stay in the Czech Republic.' Is it for work? Then you need a work permit. Is it for school? Then you need a university admissions letter. Is it for family reunification? Then you need a marriage certificate. Detailed visa information, in English, can be found here on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic website. Make an appointment with and submit your translated, notarized documents to the nearest Czech Embassy (Dresden, Bratislava--highly recommended for very friendly service, or Vienna), and then wait. And once your visa is ready, you must bring proof of travel medical insurance (valid for the length of your visa) with you when you pick it up. Here you can find detailed information on insurance requirements and the list of approved insurance companies.
Visa Registration, April 2010
Less than a month ago, I made the trek to register my long-term visa at the Foreign Police. Instead of getting out of bed at 5 A.M. after a sleepless night of paranoia, I took my time to get ready and didn't make it out the door till about 11 A.M. I did worry that I was feeling a bit smug.
The Foreign Police building itself is easy to find. Take the 133 bus to Tachovské náměstí (you can catch it at Staroměstská or Florenc among other places), and keep walking uphill on Koněvova till you come to number 32. If you are a citizen of one of the 30 listed countries, you will enter at what looks like a back entrance and go up to the 3rd floor.
Doesn't matter if you don't know much Czech--the sign for “3rd floor” is conveniently written in about a dozen different languages. Once you enter the only open door on the 3rd floor, you must take a ticket from the ticket dispenser at the far end of the room. You will first cross through the smaller, non-EU citizen waiting area, and then into the EU citizen section of the room, where you will see 2 ticket dispensers. Amazingly enough, you can choose English as your menu language. Choose the purpose of your visit, which for most will be “non-EU citizen registration of visa over 90 days.”
I was there on a Thursday, having arrived around 11.30am. I had to wait for about an hour, which isn't too bad considering there were eight people ahead of me. No one seemed to have any problems, no one yelled or pulled their hair out or threw a chair. All that was missing was some Enya over the speakers; unfortunately the only sound was that of the WC doors opening and shutting.
My waiting time was also due to the fact that one of the three kiosks for non-EU citizens was not opened until the end of my wait. There are about ten kiosks for EU citizens, only half of which were occupied, but the line in this section still moved fairly quickly, and everyone seemed rather pleased as they left.
When my turn finally arrived at the third kiosk, the lady took my ticket and my documents, and within ten rather uneventful minutes, I was free. And now you know the rest of the Foreign Police story.
One major update to be aware of is that as of the beginning of 2010, anyone who is registered in Prague 4 or Prague 10 should go to the Foreign Police branch located by the Pankrác metro at Sdružení 1.