Prague court cancels Health Ministry directive restricting visa applications

A Czech Health Ministry directive restricting the issuance of visa to citizens of some non-EU countries is not legal, says Prague's Municipal Court.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 11.09.2021 17:51 (updated on 11.09.2021)

All foreigners will again be able to apply for a Czech residence permit as the Municipal Court of Prague has cancelled part of a Health Ministry directive that restricted the applications, according to Seznam Zprávy. The restrictions will be lifted as of today.

The directive, issued at the end of August, barred people from some non-EU countries from applying for a visa or long-term residence permit unless they met certain conditions including work or study.

"[The cancelled provision related] mainly to tourist visas and risk countries [for Covid-19]. It is an anti-epidemic question, but we will have to respect the court's decision," Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch said.

He said the issue is primarily within the jurisdiction of the Interior and Foreign Ministries, which are in charge of issuing visas.

In its directive, the Health Ministry forbade Czech authorities from accepting visa applications from people from non-EU countries if those countries did not pose a low risk of infection.

An exception was granted for foreigners coming to the Czech Republic for seasonal jobs, to work in the healthcare and food industries, or to attend sport and culture events. Applications were also accepted from foreigners with skilled work qualifications and scientists, and also families of foreigners with a Czech residence permit.

The Prague Municipal Court cancelled three of the directive's paragraphs, arguing that they were presented by the ministry as protective without the ministry giving a concrete, comprehensible, and well-founded explanation that would allow their introduction to be substantiated.

An administrative complaint against the directive was filed by the School of Languages at the Prague Education Centre, whose representatives said they had been effectively barred from running their business, organizing language courses for non-EU citizens who want to study at Czech universities.

"Those interested in the courses cannot come to the Czech Republic without being granted visas," school representative Jan Zrcek said.

According to Seznam Zprávy, the Health Ministry is of the view that the grating of visas poses an epidemiological risk.

The court, however, criticised the ministry for failing to explain its decision that visa applications could be accepted from those with complete vaccination, but not, for example, for those who had recently recovered from Covid-19.

"The court can no longer inactively watch the approach of the ministry to its way of explaining the measures it issues in connection with the pandemic," said Judge Martin Lachmann.

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