Legal assistance to foreigners
Who can benefit from legal aid for foreigners ?
Persons eligible for social assistance are, apart from persons having Polish citizenship, also foreigners who have their place of residence and reside on the territory of Poland, among others:
- on the basis of a permanent residence permit,
- a residence permit for a long-term EU resident
- in connection with obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection in the Republic of Poland.
Foreigners are entitled to social assistance benefits after the completion of the entire procedure for legalization of stay. The person should have already been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Free legal information
Free legal information is a way to inform a foreigner about current legal regulations concerning granting international protection, revocation of refugee status or subsidiary protection as well as regulations governing proceedings before public administration bodies.
According to the guidelines on the Ministry’s website:
“Free legal information consists in informing the foreigner about the applicable legal regulations in the field of granting international protection, deprivation of refugee status or subsidiary protection and the regulations governing the proceedings before the public administration bodies in matters falling within the competence of these bodies in this field, taking into account the specific situation of these persons”
Free legal information is provided by the employees of the Refugee Procedures Department in Warsaw (33 Taborowa Street) and Biała Podlaska (19 Dokudowska Street).
Free legal assistance includes:
Drafting an appeal for:
- refusal to grant refugee status or subsidiary protection
- discontinuance of the procedure for granting international protection
- transfer the applicant to a Member State responsible for examining the application for international protection and discontinue the procedure,
- declare the application for international protection inadmissible,
- refusal to consider an applicant’s declaration of intention to further apply for international protection,
- revocation of refugee status or subsidiary protection;
- Legal representation in appeal proceedings on:
- granting international protection,
- transfer of the applicant to the Member State responsible for examination of the application for international protection,
- revocation of refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Free legal assistance is provided in person:
- advocate, legal adviser or
- a person, not being an advocate or legal adviser, employed in a non-governmental organization conducting public benefit activity, authorized to provide free legal assistance
The lawyer or legal advisor may refuse, for important reasons, to provide free legal assistance, informing the foreigner entitled about other lawyers, legal advisors or persons, providing free legal assistance within the territory of the province. A person giving free legal assistance may refuse to provide such assistance for important reasons.
According to the Ministry’s website, “After obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection, foreigners are entitled to assistance for up to 12 months under the so-called individual integration programme (IPI) aimed at supporting their integration process”.
Assistance to foreginers is provided in the form of:
- cash benefits (to cover the cost of living, expenses for food, clothing, shoes, personal hygiene products, housing fees and costs related to learning Polish)
- social work
- payment of health insurance premiums
- specialist counselling (legal, family, psychological)
- providing information in contact with other institutions
- other activities supporting integration process of a foreigner
It is worth emphasizing that assistance under the individual integration programme is granted on the basis of an application submitted to a starost. The application is submitted by the district parent help center within 60 days from the moment of obtaining the refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Foreigners, who have a very difficult life situation and at the same time meet all the criteria, are entitled to cash and non-cash social assistance benefits on general terms – similarly to Polish citizens.
The right to cash benefits from social assistance is determined by comparing the income of a person or family with the relevant income criterion.
Foreginer Integration Centres
In the long term, foreigners will be able to benefit from an offer that goes beyond social assistance benefits within the framework of foreginer Integration Centers.
The Ministry of Family and Social Policy is implementing the project “Building structures for the integration of foreigners in Poland – stage II – piloting the Foreigners’ Integration Centers” – project under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (FAMI). The goal is to pilot the establishment of two Foreginers Integration Centres in partnership with voivodeship governments.
Integration activities carried out in the Centres will be addressed to third-country nationals as regards integration with the Polish society through
- advice on the job market,
- learning the Polish language,
- cultural assistance (e.g. help with enrolling children in school),
- specialist advice (e.g. psychological, legal)
Foreginers Support Centre
Foreigners can also benefit from assistance at the Aliens Support Centers, which aim to help foreigners living in the region to more easily solve administrative and legal problems related to legalization of stay and labor law.
As part of their activities, the Centers offer free assistance to foreigners:
- workshops adaptation courses
- half-schools for children of foreigners.
More information about legal employment of foreigners can be found HERE>>.