Czech language requirement for foreigners seeking permanent residence about to get tougher

Applicants will have to pass a test under strict conditions showing they understand Czech at the A2 level.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 18.01.2021 12:09 (updated on 18.01.2021)

The language requirements for foreigners from outside the European Union who want to live permanently in the Czech Republic are likely to be tightened.

Education Minister Robert Plaga will submit a draft regulation to the government that will strengthen the exam by one degree from A1 to A2. The legislation has been under discussion for six years.

“It has been discussed with everyone, even on a professional level. … I am glad that we managed to finish it, and I hope that it will pass,” Plaga told daily Právo.

The move will tighten the already existing language requirement for a permanent residency permit (trvalý pobyt). The government decided 12 years ago that for someone to get a permanent residence permit, the applicant had to prove that they spoke Czech at a basic level.

It was intended to help facilitate their integration, so they would be able to communicate and to orientate themselves in their rights and obligations without an interpreter.

Along with the requirement for learning the language, the government began to provide language courses at integration centers, which are in each region. Since last year they have been financed by the state.

According to Plaga, there are currently, about 600,000 foreigners have registered in the Czech Republic, and there are an estimated 200,000 unregistered EU citizens. The Czech Republic currently has a population of 10.71 million, and its growth is mainly due to a net influx of foreigners.

A large number of foreigners came to the Czech Republic three years ago, especially from Ukraine. As a result, an increased number of people seeking permanent residence is expected next year, Plaga said. This is one of the reasons he gave for tightening the language requirements.

The A1 level requires people to write a simple sentences or write a short message during an exam, which was often in the form or a response to a job search advertisement.

For the A2 level, applicants will have to prove that they understand the main idea of simple texts in written and oral form. They have to pass an interview and will have to show that they can write a short text.

The entire testing system is now automated and has been made anonymous to prevent cheating and corruption, which had occurred in the past.

“One would like the world to be ideal. If there are such attempts [to cheat], we will solve them. We will only react to what happens,” Plaga said.

The exams will be under strict rules. Mobile phones or dictionary will not be allowed. Copying will not be permitted, and there will be no discussions or questions. People who pass the test will receive a certificate. Those who do not must repeat the oral and written part. It will be possible to repeat the test three times a year. Only the first attempt is paid for by the state.

The new testing will cost about CZK 4.5 million. The Ministry of Education has requested CZK 3 million for tests, preparatory texts and salaries for two employees.

A permanent residency permit gives a foreigner the same rights as Czech citizens except the right to vote.

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