Suspension of the Business Harbour programme in Poland

7 February 2024 2 min read

By Justyna Helbing and Emilia Kalecka

At a glance

  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs has decided to suspend Poland’s participation in the Business Harbour (PBH) programme.
  • As a result of the suspension of the PBH programme, foreigners from the IT sector wishing to move to Poland will be subject to the general rules when applying for a work visa, which in practice take much longer.

On 26 January 2024, it was reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend Poland’s participation in the PBH programme.

The decision was motivated by the need to streamline procedures to ensure that the proper vetting of visa applications has occurred as there have been recent claims of misuse of the programme.

What is PBH?

PBH started in 2020 as a comprehensive facilitation package aimed at IT / New Tech professionals and their families, as well as start-ups and other companies from selected countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It included a special type of visa that waived the need for a work permit and allowed the registration of a sole proprietorship in Poland. In addition, visa applications under the PBH programme were often processed by consulates on a priority basis, in a much shorter time than via the regular procedure under general rules.

Consequences of the PBH suspension

As a result of the suspension of the programme, foreigners from the IT sector wishing to move to Poland will be subject to the general rules when applying for a work visa, which in practice take much longer. The changes will also impact the number of sole proprietorships which are registered by foreigners. Until now, many PBH visa holders chose to register with the Polish Central Register of Business Activities of Natural Persons, as a sole proprietor. Now, this possibility will again be limited to those having a special status or special entitlements, such as international protection or permanent residence.

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