Visas, Visas, Visas — The topic no one enjoys talking about yet the topic everyone needs to know a lot about. Our ITA Alumni Ambassadors have been in your shoes when it comes to visas. It's a foreign topic to most, no matter how experienced of a traveler you are. Our Alumni Ambassadors have been through the visa process firsthand and were tasked with walking us through the steps they took for their visa. Here we have Megan Newnham talking us through her Czech Republic visa process...
What visa are you living and teaching on?
The visa I am currently living and working on is called a Živnostenský list or Živno for short. It is a Trade License Freelance Visa. I entered the country on a Tourist Visa that was valid for my first 90 days of being in the country (but does not make you legal to work!!!).
Where did you process your visa?
Before I moved to Prague, I was able to get a bank letter from my U.S. bank, but the rest of the process must be done once you arrive in the Czech Republic. Some steps can be completed here while the actual application must be done at a Czech Embassy in a foreign city. I had to apply for my visa in Berlin, Germany, but other options include Vienna, Austria and Belgrade, Serbia.
Typically, it makes the most sense to go to the city with the earliest open application appointment, but I know people who have used this appointment as a way to travel to a new city! Even if you pick an application city at random, I would definitely spend some extra time exploring so it isn’t all paperwork!
What documents did you need to get your visa?
In order to get a your visa and Živno, you will need the following:
- Valid passport from your home country
- Bank letter from your bank in your home country (must be checking account with your name on the account!!!) stating that you have at least $5,300 in your account
- Document obtained in Prague from the U.S. Embassy stating that you have not committed a crime within the country
- Proof of accomodation (signed by your landlord)
- Form signed by your landlord giving you permission to use your address as a business or a valid business address which can be purchased for about $20/month
- Proof of Travelers Insurance (when you are on your tourist visa) and Proof of Health Insurance (once your visa gets approved, in order to get your Živno)
- Proof of Social Taxes Paid (once your visa gets approved, in order to get your Živno)
Where did you get your required documents from?
I hired Visa Guru to handle all of my paperwork and visa processing. I received all of my documents from them and then took them to the appropriate office during my scheduled appointments.
**International TEFL Academy can provide you the information for Visa Guru if you are looking to teach in the Czech Republic and get a Zivno visa!**
Please outline the steps involved in getting your visa documents:
The easiest way to get all of your documents is to hire someone to help you! Visa assistance is becoming more and more common as Czech government offices are notoriously difficult to work with. They do not communicate well between each other so it is best to hire an agency with a native Czech speaker to avoid any mistakes or confusion.
Did any of your documents need to get notarized, apostilled or authenticated?
The documents you must get signed by your landlord need to be notarized. My landlord took care of this himself, but you can also go to any post office (Česká pošta) and go to the Czech Point window for notarization. While they don’t always speak English, they do understand the forms and what you need. If you have a Czech-speaking friend or agency, it is best to bring them just in case.
How many copies of each document did you need?
I needed a minimum of two copies of each document.
*Important Note:* All signatures must be done in BLUE INK!!! This is weird, but mandatory and the government offices will not accept documents signed in any other color. Also, always make an extra copy for yourself and double-check that you have everything before you go to your appointment!
Where did you send your documents?
I took my documents in person to the U.S. Embassy in Prague, the Czech Embassy in Berlin, the Foreign Police office, the Health Insurance Office, and the Social Tax Office. Visa Guru sent all my information in to the Social Tax Office and Živnostenský Office.
What were your total visa fees? Were they covered or reimbursed by your school?
My total visa fees were $270/6,000kč to hire Visa Guru and about $200/5,000kč of additional government, application, and travel fees. I had to pay for the entire process myself and was not reimbursed by my employer. Some employers do offer working visas, but if you leave that employer, you become illegal to work immediately.
How long did it take to receive your visa?
My visa took about 3 ½ months to receive after I applied for it which is an extremely long time to wait compared to some of my friends. Most American visas take 4-6 weeks to process, but as more Americans and foreigners in general are moving to the Czech Republic, the process sometimes takes longer.
How long is your visa valid?
My initial visa was good for 8 months (approved in November and expiring in July), but the long-stay visa I will be on next year can be from 1-2 years, depending on personal preference of the applicant.
Can you renew your visa? If so, do you know the process to renew it?
Yes, you can! The visa renewal process is actually much easier than the initial visa! It can take a long time, but the steps are much fewer. You simply apply for a bridge visa, provide the same documents from your landlord as in your first visa, and provide proof of income, health insurance, and taxes paid. As long as you make more than 20,000kč/month (everyone that I know makes this), you will easily be approved.
Are there any restrictions to your visa?
I have heard that there are restrictions on the amount of different people you can invoice in a given month, but I have never heard of anyone having a problem with this. The good thing about being on a freelance visa is that you can leave a job at any time. You can also choose where and how much you would like to work, while remaining completely legal!
Want to Learn More about Teaching English Abroad?
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- ITA Alumni Ambassador Corner - Czech Republic
- Teaching English in Czech Republic - Country Profile
- Get TEFL Certified in Prague, Czech Republic
- 10 Things You Need to Know to Prepare for Your TEFL Class in Prague
- City Fact Sheet: Prague, Czech Republic
- [Video] Prague Q&A - Facebook Live with Megan Newnham
- [Video] Instagram Story Takeover from Prague with Megan Newnham
- [Video] Weekend Adventures While Teaching English in the Czech Republic
- [Video] Top Tips for Getting Around Prague - Public Transport
- [Video] Traveling While Teaching English in Prague, Czech Republic