New Regulations Require Foreigners Seeking Permanent Stay in Czech Republic to Pay for Czech Language Exam

In a forthcoming policy change set to take effect from January 2024, foreign individuals applying for permanent stay in the Czech Republic will be required to bear the costs of the mandatory Czech language proficiency exam. The amendment to the regulation on assessing the Czech language skills of residence-seekers is scheduled for discussion by the cabinet this Wednesday.

Currently, the state issues vouchers to cover the expenses of the Czech language exam, which will no longer be the case after the policy revision comes into force. The examination cost is set to increase from a maximum of 2,500 crowns to 3,200 crowns.

However, foreign medical professionals like doctors, dentists, and pharmacists will be exempt from this language exam requirement. Instead, their language competence will be validated through their approbation exam, a mandatory examination for practicing the medical profession.

The decision for this change is attributed to the substantial interest shown by foreigners in taking these exams and the state’s motivation to cut costs, as stated by the Education Ministry.

Foreigners seeking a permanent residence permit must currently demonstrate their A2-level Czech language proficiency, which is tested through a two-hour examination. As part of the current system, those residing in asylum centers can acquire vouchers that reimburse them for the exam fees. The Interior Ministry currently covers 2,500 crowns per test. This system was intended to incentivize foreigners to attain a smooth command of the language. In case of failure, the applicant is responsible for the costs of further attempts.

However, certain categories are exempt from the examination. Children under 15, individuals above 60, people with disabilities, and those who have attended Czech schools for at least a year or possess a secondary school diploma or state exam in Czech are not required to take the language test.

The popularity of these exams has surged unexpectedly, driven in part by programs designed to attract skilled labor from abroad. The Czech Republic witnessed a rise in foreign workers seeking permanent residence, a trend partially attributed to the displacement caused by the military conflict in Ukraine.

While the amendment is geared towards fiscal prudence due to high demand and budget constraints, proponents argue that the benefits of obtaining permanent residence status, including unrestricted access to the labor market and the welfare system, far outweigh the exam fee. This policy change reflects the government’s strategy to strike a balance between welcoming immigrants and ensuring language competency within the country.

Article by Prague Forum

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