5 Steps to Get a Visa and Live in Poland
So, you’ve decided to move to Poland! Maybe you’ve landed a job, maybe you want to study at a Polish university, maybe you want to move together with a Polish significant other, or maybe you’re just fascinated to experience the hidden wonders of Poland’s Central European way of life. No matter your motivations, if you’re not a citizen of an EU country, one of the first things on your mind probably is:
How do I get a visa?
In this article, we’ll sum up the process of getting a Polish visa into 5 steps. Before we go any further, we are talking about applying for a Type-D National Visa from a Polish embassy. These visas can be issued for a number of purposes, including work, studies, and family unification. It is distinct from a Type-C “Schengen” Visa, which is for tourism or temporary business travel. If you are looking to come to Poland as a tourist, this article is not for you.
Read more on the Differences Between a Temporary Residence Permit and Type-D Visa
1. Find your nearest Polish consulate or embassy
Finding your nearest Polish embassy or consulate may be harder than it seems. To get started, head over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website where the government publishes an updated list of diplomatic missions all over the world.
Simply enter your home country, and see what comes up. Note that only embassies and consulate generals can issue Type-D Visas; honorary consulates and other types of diplomatic missions that will be listed cannot.
If you come from a small country, it is very likely that your country may not have a Polish embassy or consulate. Inthis case, the page should state the nearest available diplomatic mission that serves citizens of your country.
If you come from a really big country, such as the United States or India, it may also be confusing as there will likely be one embassy as well as a number of consulate generals. All can issue visas, but not all are created equal!
Big countries are usually divided up into consular districts, with each embassy or consulate serving residents of a specific region of the country. So unfortunately you can’t just show up to any consulate in your country! Usually the consulate’s website will list which states or territories are a part of its district, so make sure to choose the right one.
If you’re from the USA, here is a handy map of Poland’s consular districts in the United States
Another question we get all the time is: If I’m overseas, do I need to go back to my home country to apply for a visa?
The unfortunate answer to that question most of the time, is yes. As much as we love to support serial expats in jumping around from country to country, unfortunately the Polish government is a bit more strict. The vast majority of Polish embassies around the world will only issue visas to citizens or permanent residents of their host country.
We have come across a few embassies that have made exceptions to this rule, so it never hurts to contact your nearest embassy and ask what their policy is.
Have you managed to get a Polish visa outside of your home country? Please let us know so we can update this guide with more useful information!
2. Justify a purpose for your stay in Poland
Let’s assume for the case of this guide that you are like most people on the planet, and you don’t have an immediate family member living in Poland who can grant you a free pass to the country. So, you’ll have to find a way to justify your stay in Poland. For a long stay visa, there are essentially 3 ways that anyone can do this:
No matter what your intent, you’ll need to justify it to the consulate officers.
For example, if you want to study in Poland, you’ll need to get accepted to a Polish university, and provide them with your acceptance letter and proof of registration. If you want to work in Poland, you’ll need to have a work permit arranged through your employer. Unfortunately there is no way around this. You must have a physical, approved work permit in your hand if you want to apply for a visa for the purposes of employment.
Actually there is a way around this: If you’ve graduated from studies in a Polish university, you can get a work visa without a work permit.
And if you want to run a business, we recommend using an incubator such as Project One. Otherwise, you’ll have to physically be in Poland to register your company, but you also (usually) can’t come to Poland to register a company until you have a visa. So it’s a bit of a catch-22.
3. Gather all required documents
Your consulate’s website should have a list of documents that are required for a Type-D Visa. Note that different documents are required depending on your purpose of stay, so if the website only has a generic list, it’s a good idea to contact them and ask if there’s anything else you need for your specific visa.
Although the required documents vary from consulate to consulate, here’s a list of what you can expect to be asked for:
- Your passport
- Documents justifying your purpose of stay (see above)
- Printed visa application form (see the next step)
- Two passport-style photos
- Cash (in local currency) for the administrative fee payment. This is usually about $70 USD.
- Your flight itinerary. If you don’t want to book a flight before getting your visa (which is understandable), we recommend booking a “Dummy Flight”
- Medical insurance valid for Poland. If your school or company is providing you with insurance, you may still have to get temporary travel insurance to cover you up until the start of your contract. We recommend AXA Insurance as it’s usually the most affordable.
4. Fill out the online application form and book an appointment
Go to the e-Konsulat page, which is the official system for visa applications and appointment bookings. Luckily, the portal is very self-explanatory and is available in English.
Be sure to print out the completed application form and bring it with you to your consulate appointment.
5. Show up to the consulate for your appointment
Do not be late! The Poles are very punctual people, and the consulate officer will most certainly not be late for your visa appointment. So neither should you.
Make sure to bring all the necessary documents mentioned in Step 3. When you submit the application, they will ask you how you would like to collect your passport and visa once the visa has been approved (remember that the consulate will keep your passport as your visa is being processed). If you’d to have it mailed to you, make sure to provide them with a self addressed stamped envelope.
If the consulate officer is happy with everything he sees, he should give you a date for when it will be ready. Usually this will be about two weeks, however it is possible at some consulates to pay for expedited service and have it ready in as fast as 48 hours.
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So there you have it! Project Expats’ tried and tested steps for getting a visa to live in Poland. If you have any other tips and tricks you’d like to share with us, please let us know in the comments!