For the public

Q&A about immigration in the Czech Republic

Here you can find some answers about numbers of immigrants living in the Czech Republic, their legal status and possibilities of acquiring Czech citizenship. The goal of this text is to provide basic information therefore it is not possible to include all the existing regulations and laws (which are often complicated).

1. How many foreigners live in the Czech Republic?

According to the data provided by the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic, on July 31st 2012, there were 437 928 foreigners legally residing in the Czech Republic.

2. Where do the foreigners living in the Czech Republic come from?

The foreigners living in the country have mostly Ukrainian citizenship, other are from Slovakia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland and Germany (in this order).  

3. In what region do the majority of foreigners live?

The majority of foreigners live in Prague - 164 412 people in July 2012, i.e. almost 40 % of all foreigners. The second biggest share of foreigners lives in Central Bohemia.

4. What is the age structure of immigrant population in the Czech Republic?

Almost half of all the foreigners living in the Czech Republic fall into the age category between 20 and 39 years of age.

5. Are there more female or male immigrants in the Czech Republic?

There are more men (57.11 % as of July 31st 2012). But in line with the trend in the world migration flows, the share of women among migrants is growing and the numbers are currently quite balanced.

6. Do foreigners need any residence permit to stay in the Czech Republic?

Citizens of the European Union and also Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein do not need any residence permit, they are only obliged to inform the police about their residence if they intend to stay more than one month. The certificate of temporary residence is voluntary.

Citizens of countries outside the EU (so called third country nationals) can legally reside in the Czech Republic only with a long-term visa, long-term residence permit (which is always issued with a purpose and it is valid only as long as the purpose lasts) or permanent residence permit. Other people stay under international protection (asylum holders and people with subsidiary protection) or as applicants for international protection. Immigrants can also acquire Czech citizenship – in that case they are no longer treated as foreigners by Czech law.

7. What is international protection? What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum holder?

Both terms are often used for the same situation. Mostly, we call refugees people who run from persecution, but they do not have any official protection in any country. On the contrary, asylum holder is a person who already has an official recognition of his/her situation (i.e. situation when return to a home country means threat to health and life). According to international treaties, there are two forms of international protection provided by the Czech Republic – asylum and subsidiary protection. Subsidiary protection is provided for people who would be in danger in their home country, but this danger is considered temporary.

8. How many people get asylum in the Czech Republic every year?

The average number of recognised asylum was 158 per year during years 2000-2010. From September 2006 to December 2010, 491 applicants got subsidiary protection. In 2010, 125 applicants got asylum status. Overall, there is decline in application and therefore also in number of new recognitions of asylum status.

9. How can a foreigner acquire permanent residence?

A foreigner can apply for permanent residence permit after living legally (with long-term visa or long-term residence permit) in the Czech Republic for five years. This period is valid for majority of foreigners, it is shorter for family members of Czech citizens, but longer for foreigner students. In the application, the applicants have to prove sufficient resources for themselves and their families, housing and also prove that they have passed an exam of Czech language (level A1).

10. What are the conditions for acquiring Czech citizenship?

Foreigners can apply for Czech citizenship after having permanent residence in the Czech Republic for at least five years and after living in the country for most of this time. The applicants must have settled family relationships, be without a criminal record, be integrated in the labour market and have sufficient income (the conditions are stated like this, each application is evaluated by the officers of the Ministry of Interior). The applicants also have to fulfil all the legal obligations, above all they have to pay taxes, insurance and fees (this includes health and social insurance, municipal fees, etc.). The conditions are controlled also for all the stay in the country. The applicants also must prove knowledge of the Czech language. There is no right to obtain Czech citizenship – each application is evaluated separately. In case the applicants get a positive decision, they must renounce their previous citizenship and pay an administrative fee.

11. Can foreigner acquire citizenship or permanent residence after marrying a Czech citizen?

No, marriage itself is not a reason for granting Czech citizenship or permanent residence permit.

12. Do children born in the territory of the Czech Republic get automatically Czech citizenship?

No. This principle (in legal language called ius soli, right of soil) is nowadays applied only in few countries (e.g. USA). More often, the law is based on principle called ius sanguinis (right of blood) which is based on the parents’ citizenship. It means that a child born in the Czech territory will get Czech citizenship only if one of the parents is a Czech citizen.

13. Under what conditions can foreigners get unemployment benefits?

Foreigners with long-term residence permit do not have right to get unemployment benefits (i.e. more than half of the foreigners living in the Czech Republic). For foreigners with permanent residence, asylum or subsidiary protection, the unemployment benefits are available under the same conditions as for Czech citizens - it means that they need to have acquired at least 12 months of pension insurance in last two years and their previous contract was not finished due to serious violation of employee’s responsibilities.

It is also good to realize that foreigners who work in the country (and without work, most of the residence permits is not available) pay social insurance, which includes pension insurance, health insurance and contribution to the state unemployment policy. As for the Czech citizens, also for foreigners there is no possibility to get back an overpayment under the minimum tax deposit (1836 CZK per month, i.e. over 22 000 CZK per year). As this is applied to all foreigners, including those without permanent residence and those who will never get pension in the country, this money stays in the Czech Republic. International agreements that provide summing up insurance time, salaries in the other states, etc. are signed only with few states, nowadays there is for example no such agreement between the Czech Republic and the Russian federation and also other states of the ex-Soviet Union.

14. How many foreigners do live in the Czech Republic without a legal residence permit?

There is no exact number, because such people are naturally not registered anywhere. There are many methods how to estimate such numbers and the results differ according to different methods. Ministry of Interior for example registers number of people detained while trying to cross the Czech borders without proper documents. Data of the Czech Statistical Office clearly show that number of people trying to cross the border without documents decreased significantly in the last years (30 761 in 2000, 139 in 2010), as did the number of cases of violation of residence rules (22 355 in 2000, 2 848 in 2010). These numbers are probably also influenced by the accession to the European Union and to the Schengen area and subsequent change of border controls and also by the possibility of free entrance of citizens of 26 EU countries to the territory of the Czech Republic (but the decrease had started even before the accession to the EU).


Czech Statistical Office (Czech, English)

Website of the Ministry of Interior – Advice and services (Czech)

Website of the Ministry of Interior – Asylum, migration and integration (Czech, English)

Website of the Ministry of Interior – Statistics (Czech)

Report on situation of migration and integration of foreigners in the Czech Republic – years 2001 – 2010 (Czech)

Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals in the Territory of the Czech Republic (Act No. 326/1999 Coll., in Czech)

Employment Act (Act No. 435/2004 Coll., in Czech)

DRBOHLAV, D.  et al. (2010). Migrace a (i)migranti v Česku: kdo jsme, odkud přicházíme, kam jdeme? Sociologické nakladatelství (SLON), Praha,  p. 207.


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