Technicalities of being a migrant in Slovakia

EURES, the European Employment Services, is an information exchange network to facilitate the mobility of workers within the European Union and it has 30 trained EURES advisors in Slovakia. Ľubica Cibulová of the Nitra Office of the Labour, Social Affairs and Family ministry is one of them.

EURES, the European Employment Services, is an information exchange network to facilitate the mobility of workers within the European Union and it has 30 trained EURES advisors in Slovakia. Ľubica Cibulová of the Nitra Office of the Labour, Social Affairs and Family ministry is one of them.

According to Cibulová, the most common reasons why migrants go to one of Slovakia’s labour offices is to inquire about the technicalities of finding a job, obtaining a work permit or having it extended. But she admits that working with migrants takes much more than just an ability to collect the required documents and make phone calls to local employers.

“Migrants often inquire about how to arrange the longest possible stay in Slovakia but they also are often interested in available job openings or new firms coming to the region,” Cibulová told a seminar discussing her municipal government’s integration tools for migrants.

The seminar was held in Bratislava in mid-July as part of an EU-funded project called Labour Pool for Migrants.

From the labour office’s point of view, migrants are foreigners who apply for work permits from the labour office. Work permits in Slovakia are issued by the local labour offices while Slovakia’s foreigners’ police are responsible for issuing residence permits. Migrants can apply for the permits by themselves or an employer can apply in their name or through a legal entity.

“First we have to monitor the situation in the labour market to give every possibility for unemployed Slovaks to get work. This is very similar in many other countries – because employment first has to go to locals and only after that to migrants,” Cibulová said.

According to Cibulová, migrants also inquire about their income and payroll tax duties along with social and health insurance requirements. Their options for acquiring permanent residence permits or even state citizenship are also among the issues bringing migrant workers to the labour offices. Problems with documents proving the education of the applicant are among the main complications that labour offices face when dealing with migrants.

“These might be uncertified, even forged,” Cibulová said. “Once, a consul warned us that the documents could have even been purchased.”

Sometimes immigrants fall prey to illegal work situations or are abused by employers as cheap labour simply because they do not have information about how to proceed correctly after their arrival in the country.

“Then when the labour inspectors find out that they are working illegally, they are usually expelled from the country,” Cibulová said.

According to Cibulová, sometimes migrants – out of fear or simply being uninformed – may put incorrect information on their application forms, which then complicates the process or completely eliminates the applicants’ chances. Sometimes the power of attorney designations which immigrants use are not complete, she said. Cibulova also pointed out language barriers.

She said that it is extremely important to detect these shortcomings so that the labour offices understand where they might be failing in communication and how they might speak more effectively with migrants.

Regarding legislative barriers to migrants, Cibulová mentioned the requirement of a work permit for persons who have been given supplementary protection but who have not yet been granted asylum.

“We would like to change this legislation because people who have not been granted asylum but still have supplementary protection have difficulty showing a document to prove their education,” Cibulová said.

Cibulová noted that migrants to Slovakia have the option to access its active labour policies which includes social assistance for people in material need. Migrants can also start setting up their own business with state assistance, she said.


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