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Legalization of stay in Poland

Pre-Arrival

Legalization of stay in Poland is a multi-step process. Below you will find a useful check-list of steps that you must complete before you arrive in Poland. You may use the list as a step-by-step instructions and also as a handy checklist, as you proceed through the legalization process.

Check List

  • Find out what documents are required to apply for a Visa and/or a Residence Card
  • Apply for a Visa at the Polish embassy or consulate
  • Confirm accommodation options with SWPS University Office of International Student and Scholar Services, in the chosen city of study
  • Check options of health insurance policy for the duration of your stay in Poland
  • Obtain a credit card (e.g. VISA, Master Card, American Express, etc.)
  • Book your flight / train to Poland
  • Check the options of transportation from your port of entry to your final destination in Poland

International students have two options to legalize their stay in Poland:

  • a visa
  • a residence card

Visa

VISA Card
Visa

To obtain a visa, you should contact a Polish Embassy or a Consulate in your country of origin. There are two types of visas.

A national visa (type "D") allows a foreigner to enter Poland and stay within its borders for up to one year. The validity of such a visa depends on the purpose of travel. A national visa entitles a foreigner to travel to other countries of the Schengen Area for the maximum period of three months within a six month period.

A Schengen visa (type "C") can be issued for a period of up to five months. This kind of visa allows a foreigner to remain within the Schengen Area for 90 days in any 180-day period. The visa indicates the number of entries to the Schengen Area that have occured during the period of its validity.

Residence Card

karta pobytu1karta pobytu2
Residence Card

A Residence Card may be issued only to foreigners, who have already been granted a temporary or permanent residency in Poland, while their residency status is still valid. Holders of a Residence Card may cross the Polish national border numerous times, without the need to have a visa. Students who wish to apply for a Residence Card, should contact their Regional Administration Office (Voivodship Office). The Residence Card is usually issued for the period covering the duration of the academic year plus two additional months. A subsequent card may be issued for the period of three years, at the maximum. The Residence Card application process takes approximately 2 months.

To learn more about the legalization of stay in Poland, see the presentation on "Student Visas, Student Residence Cards, and Foreign Students and Graduates Working in Poland" prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Legal Support

Online consultations

Students requiring legal advice on topics such as legalization of stay in Poland, lost Residence Card (Karta Pobytu), Polish visas, work permits, etc., may consult Dr. Paweł Kowalski, Attorney at Law.

  • Duration of a free consultation: 15 minutes
  • Wednesdays: between 15:30 and 17:00, via Hangout Meets

To book an appointment please contact the Accessibility, Scholarship and Student Events Center at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Legal aid – free legal advice

To obtain free legal advice, you may contact Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (Legal Intervention Association), a non-profit organization specializing in providing legal assistance to foreigners.

Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej

  • ul. Siedmiogrodzka 5/51
    01-204 Warsaw
  • tel.: +48 880 145 372
  • Office hours: Monday to Friday: 10.00–16.00