The Czech Republic is currently in a period of economic growth, and, while the level of unemployment is low, the country still has skills shortages in a number of areas. Although under Czech law, an employer may only offer a job to a foreigner if they cannot find a suitable Czech or EU national to fill the role, opportunities for work for expats remain good. While speaking Czech is desirable, especially outside Prague, it is not essential, as many international companies conduct business in English. Speaking good German may also be an advantage.EU citizens may live and work in the Czech Republic without need of a work permit or visa. These are necessary for all other nationals.
In order to work in the Czech Republic, you will need a long-term residence permit with the right to work. There are two types: the Blue Card and the Employee Card.
Blue Cards are available only to people who have high-level professional or university qualifications in an area that is in demand in the Czech Republic, who have been offered a full-time job contract for at least one year, at an agreed salary that is a minimum of 1.5 times greater than the average gross Czech annual salary.
Once issued, the Blue Card is valid for the length of your employment contract plus three months, but for no longer than two years in total. Employee Cards cover all types of employment. The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs maintains a registry of jobs eligible for Employee Cards and a registry of jobs eligible for Blue Cards.
You must have found a job before you can apply for either type of card, and only certain jobs are eligible. In the case of Employee Cards, the job must have been found via the Central Register of Jobs eligible for Employee Cards. This does not apply to jobs eligible for Blue Cards, but if you receive an offer via another route, you need to check that the job covered by this scheme (you can do this on the register website). In all cases, the employer must be able to prove they cannot find a suitable Czech or EU candidate.
Once you have secured a job offer and contract, you must complete the relevant Employee Card or Blue Card application form, which can be found on the website of the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and a Visa application form, which can be downloaded from the website of the Czech embassy in your country.
In both cases you will need also to supply supporting documentation. This differs slightly between the two types of Card.
• Your passport, which must be up-to-date, and have at least two blank pages for the visa.
• Two recent passport photographs of yourself.
• Proof of accommodation in the Czech Republic.
• Your employment contract.
• Certificates or notarised copies of your higher professional or university qualifications, accompanied by a professional translation into Czech.
• Medical insurance from an authorised provider for a minimum of 40 days.
• You must also be able to supply a criminal history document, translated into Czech, upon request.
• A valid travel document.
• Two recent passport photographs of yourself.
• Confirmation of availability of accommodation.
• Visa fee.
• Contract of employment or agreement on work activity.
• Documents proving you possess relevant qualifications for the job, with a translation into Czech.
• A criminal history document, with a translation into Czech.
• You must also be able to supply a medical report upon request, with a translation into Czech.
At the time of writing, the visa fee in both cases is CZK 5000. Decisions on visas take up to 90 days, and you may be asked to come to the Czech embassy for an interview.
Average salaries in the Czech Republic are lower than in the UK or USA – they can be up to 50% less, proportionally – but the cost of living is correspondingly lower, and professional expats can expect to live in reasonable comfort. In most cases, you can expect to spend a third to a half less on rent, groceries and public transport. The legal working week is 40 hours, with a leave entitlement of 20 days. Your spouse, if they are not Czech or an EU citizen, must go through the same application process if they wish to work.
In addition to the registries kept by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, jobs that may be eligible for Blue Cards are advertised via major employment websites, including LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and via some international recruitment agencies. There are skills shortages in engineering and related technical professionals, medicine, ICT and teaching. Employers tend to prefer a more detailed CV rather than a resumé, covering qualifications, experience and significant work achievements.
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