Photo: TMA for Brno Daily

Prague, Aug 26 (CTK) – Foreigners applying for permanent stay will have to pay for the required Czech language exam from next year, based on an amendment to the regulation on proving the residence-seekers’ Czech proficiency that is to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday.

From January 2024, the state will stop issuing vouchers to reimburse the costs of the exam, the price of which will rise from the maximum of 2,500 crowns to 3,200 crowns.

Foreign doctors, dentists and pharmacists from abroad would no longer have to take the Czech language exam. Their language proficiency would be proved through their approbation exam which they need to practice the medical profession.

The changes are due to the high interest of foreigners in the exams and the need for the state to save money, the Education Ministry said.

Foreigners can apply for a permanent residence permit after five years of living in the Czech Republic or with a blue card. To apply, they must prove that they have passed a Czech language exam with A2 level knowledge. At asylum centres, they can obtain a voucher for the costs to be reimbursed to them.

The Interior Ministry pays 2,500 crowns per test. The support was meant to motivate the foreigners to master the language smoothly. If unsuccessful, the applicant pays for further attempts himself.

Children under 15, people over 60, people with disabilities or those who have attended Czech schools for at least a year, have a secondary school diploma in Czech or a state exam in Czech do not have to take the two-hour test.

According to the Education Ministry, interest in the exams is high and could not have been expected. In 2020, about 2,500 foreigners took the exam, while the Interior Ministry estimates to receive up to 30,000 applications for permanent residence this year.

The numbers have also grown in connection with a programme to attract skilled labour from abroad, which in September 2019 replaced the “Ukraine scheme” from 2016 with quotas for workers from that country.

“Unfortunately, it was not possible to predict whether or not these people would want to stay in the Czech Republic. It is quite possible that the military conflict in Ukraine, too, has prompted a higher number of people to remain in Czechia,” the authors of the amendment said.

The state’s annual expenditure on the vouchers is close to 20 million crowns if there is a high demand. Due to budget savings, the planned amendment stipulates that the support should be provided until the end of the year. From January, the price will rise to 3,200 crowns, to be paid by immigrants. “Obtaining permanent residence for a foreigner will bring anticipated benefits that far exceed the exam fee,” the authors of the proposal wrote.

The permanent residence permit guarantees free access to the labour market and welfare system.

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