So you want to live and work in Prague or elsewhere in the Czech Republic? Excellent decision! The exact process is varies, depending on your nationality.
In this post (excerpted from our online video course) you’ll get the bird’s eye view of the timeline of the application process specific to citizens of the United States. (If you are another nationality, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction)
Each of these steps is explained in detail in the VISA COURSE, created by seasoned professionals who’ve spent years helping hundreds of expats get visas to live and work in the Czech Republic. It’s important for you to see the steps them in context, but first some important advice…
BEWARE THE ARCHIVES OF ANECDOTAL ADVICE
You can find troves of opinions about how to get a visa on Reddit, Quora, and even Prague-specific Facebook Groups.
These forums are great for questions like "where can I buy new sneakers in Prague?" or "best food delivery service in Prague?" but be very cautious when looking for answers on topics like visas or trade licenses. Here's why:
First, some people are just plain wrong. Do you really want to trust @CuteAussie4U with your legal status? Please don't.
Second, while the very general legal requirements set forth by the Czech government are mostly the same for everyone, the process, the specifics (how you fulfill those specifics), the timeline and even the location you're allowed to apply from varies according to your nationality, and can even be specific to your age group (e.g., Canadians 18-36 vs. Canadians over 36+).
So while forum busybodies swear they are 100% certain about how they got their visa, they don't know you, your specifics, nor if the rules have changed since they applied. It's fine to do research in forums, but take it all in with a grain of salt. Then consult a professional. (Like us 😊)
PREPARE BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
Before you leave from home, you’ll need to get a letter from your bank saying you have over the equivalent of 120,000 Kc in your account (that’s approximately 5500USD). We’ll go over the specifics of that letter in MODULE 0 (free, check it out).
Then you’ll fly to Prague.
WEEKS 1 - 2
Counting weeks from your touchdown in the Schengen Zone is very important in the visa process, and you can learn more about why in MODULE 0.
In weeks one and two of being in the Schengen Zone, you’ll want to get these steps completed:
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND AFFIDAVIT
You need to get your criminal background affidavit at the US embassy. You do that by making an appointment at the US embassy, to swear an oath that you’ve have never committed a felony. We give all the instructions for that in the criminal background affidavit section.
BANK LETTER TRANSLATION
You’ll also need to get the bank letter you brought from home translated into Czech. This has to be done by a certified translator. You’ll scan the bank letter and we’ll show you who to email it to. Then take the original to the translator to haver her affix the the translation and her official seal.
GET A FLAT
From the time you arrive in Prague, you’ll want to hunt for a flat and get your landlord documents signed and notarized by week three. We’ll teach you all about Prague’s neighborhoods, about how flats are laid out, what you should be looking for and what you should be paying, AND we’ll give you a list of websites where you can find your own flat or rooms available in other people’s flats.
When you sign the lease, you’ll need to get two documents from the owner of the flat, proof that you have permission to live there (for the visa), and proof that you can have your Zivno listed there (remember, that’s your trade license). We’ll go over what those documents mean and what to do if you have any trouble getting them signed. We’ll also show you exactly how to look up the flat’s owner to verify that the right person is signing your documentation.
WEEKS 3 - 4
In week 3 you’ll call or email to make an interview appointment in a Czech embassy. You must apply in an embassy outside the Czech Republic, usually Vienna, Berlin or some other European Capital. We’ll explain why you have to leave the Czech Republic to apply. We’ll give you the list of embassies to call/email, how to book, and also tips on how to travel cheaply and easily from Prague in MODULE 4 of the VISA COURSE.
In week 4, you’ll also apply for your Živno (your trade license) at the Živno office in Prague 2.
About one week later, you will return to this office to pick up your preliminary Zivno (or trade license).
WEEKS 4 - 5
Then you’ll take your passport, visa application and all the accompanying documentation we’ll show you how to prepare to the interview at the Czech Embassy in a capital city outside of the Czech Republic. We’ll go over the questions they ask, what to say and what you probably shouldn’t say. We’ll also show you how to travel cheaply and easily from Prague.
WEEKS 5 - 8
Now it’s time for you to wait. This is when the Czech government reviews your documents and make the decision whether or not you can stay. Fortunately, most Americans get approved. The review can take anywhere from 30-60 days (in extremely rare cases, even longer), but we’ll show you how to check in with them if it takes longer than that.
AFTER VISA APPROVAL
Once you get an email from the Czech embassy saying you’ve been approved, you’ll buy temporary short-term health insurance (a few month’s worth), and we’ll point you in the right direction to do that.
Then, you’ll book travel to go back to the Czech Embassy where you applied, and bring your passport to collect your shiny new visa. Some embassies allow someone to pick up your visa for you instead, or to get the visa by courier service, and we’ll give you details about that option.
WHY TIMING IS SO IMPORTANT
Now let’s pause here and look at the process so far. Remember, you’re in the Czech Republic on a 90-day tourist visa, and you can’t control how quickly the Czech Government approves your visa. So you’ll want to get all of the steps you can control as soon as possible when you arrive in the Czech Republic.
But wait! You’re not done. Now you have to check in and make sure you’re set up to work properly in the Czech Republic.
3 DAYS AFTER PICKING UP VISA
Within 3 days of collecting your visa from the Czech embassy, you must check in at the Foreign police back in Prague. We’ll show you where to go, what to bring, and what to say when you get there.
Then, you’ll take your passport, with its new visa sticker and stamp from the foreign police, to the Zivno office and request your active Zivno—this is your actual trade license with your unique Zivno number on it. This is how companies and schools will be able to pay you. Return after 1 week, and pick it up.
1 WEEK AFTER COLLECTING YOUR ZIVNO
Then you need to mail in your registration to the social and financial offices. We’ll give you the forms and you exactly how to fill them out.
Once you receive documentation from the Social office in the mail, you’ll register for the Czech Public health care system, which is required. We’ll show you how to get that set up.
Lastly, you’ll need to know how to “stay legal” that is, how to pay your social security every month, what you need to earn every month, and how to start preparing to apply for your long-term residency if you plan to stay longer than a year. That’s a different process, and you don’t have to apply outside of the Czech republic, but it does require different documents, so we’ll show you how to prepare for that.
Phew, that may sound like a lot, but in our VISA COURSE, we’re going to take you step by step through the process. You’ll also get our Visa Course Companion guide which has a checklist for all the steps so you know each week, what you have to do.
Check out MODULE 0 for free right here. See you in Prague!