50 hours of Czech lessons suggested for those who seek permanent residency

The Czech Republic’s language requirements for those seeking permanent residence are being brought into line with other European countries.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 08.10.2021 08:00 (updated on 07.10.2021)

The Czech Republic has long set unusually low language requirements for foreigners seeking long-term permission to live and work in the country. Yet this relaxed approach is now coming to an end with the introduction of more advanced language tests as part of permanent residence examinations.

Rather than the basic A1 level required until now, people from non-EU countries seeking permanent residence will now have to complete the higher A2 level, starting with everyone who applied for permanent residence after the first of September.

This will mean greater demands on the correct use of Czech grammar, and a tougher oral examination to measure ability in spoken Czech. By imposing higher language requirements, it is hoped foreigners will be encouraged to become more adept at using Czech in the workplace.

“As language use relates to working life, the A1 level student can say what they do, what their profession is, and where they graduated from. At A2 level, students can participate in a work meeting, make basic notes about tasks they have been assigned, and reach agreement with colleagues about how to complete the task together,” said Czech language teacher for foreigners Jitka Pourová.

Anyone from outside the EU applying for permanent residence must take a language test as part of their examinations. The new requirements will bring Czech language learning requirements into line with most other EU countries.

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“We have been one of the few countries in the EU to only ask for A1 level, while most others required A2 or B1, so have aligned ourselves with the rest of Europe,” said Pavla Novotná, director of the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy at the Ministry of the Interior.

The Ministry of Education says that in order to pass the new language exam, it recommends that foreigners take at least fifty hours of language lessons. The permanent residence exam costs CZK 2,500, although the first attempt is covered by a voucher issued by the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy.

The number of foreigners living in the Czech Republic has increased significantly in the last decade. The number of foreigners with Czech residence permits increased by almost 130,000 in five years between 2015 and 2019. The latest data suggests around a quarter of foreigners with permanent or temporary residence permits are from Ukraine, while around a fifth are from Slovakia. Around 600,000 foreigners now live in the Czech Republic, around half of whom have permanent residence.

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Encouraging a higher level of language learning is intended to make foreigners more capable of carrying out day-to-day necessities, according to the Ministry of Education. And while English is widely spoken to a greater or lesser level of ability in Prague, a good grasp of Czech is particularly vital for foreigners living in other parts of the country where English is less widespread. By imposing tougher language standards on those seeking permanent residence in the Czech Republic, it is hoped foreigners will become better integrated into Czech life.

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