Valentine’s Day is a hot phenomenon these days in the Czech Republic.

Although historically, Czechs have not traditionally attached any special holiday significance to February 14th (besides the Feast of St. Valentine for more traditionally-Catholic Czechs), the Czech Lands have been quick to adopt this primarily-American holiday following the 1989 Revolution, especially among members of the younger generation. Older Czechs (and quite a number of young people) may still prefer to celebrate the traditional Czech day of Romance — May 1st— instead.

But even though Czechs are embracing Valentine’s Day, not all American traditions, such as giving Valentine’s cards, have been accepted here. Czechs are also, typically, more reserved about giving such gifts to people they are not intimately close with— to celebrate a Valentine together is a romantic milestone for many people, and not something you do with whoever is handy.

Here’s a few ways Czechs like to celebrate their Valentine’s Days with their romantic partners.

Give the Gift of Flowers


Czechs love to give flowers to the special men and women in their life on many special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, and name days. Valentine’s Day is, of course, no exception, and many Czech florists (květinářství, in Czech) do excellent business in the days around February 14th.

Roses, as in America, are traditionally considered the gift of romance, though other combinations of different flowers (such as carnations and other red and white flowers) are popular. If you’ve forgotten the flowers, don’t worry— many major Czech cities have 24 hour florists who are more than happy to keep you from getting in trouble. Most even have some form of delivery service to make sure the blooms get there in time.


Make Sure You Include Something Else


Although flowers are traditional, they’re also a bit ordinary. Many Czechs would prefer their partners also get them something special along with the fresh flowers— a bottle of wine, some chocolates, or something else meaningful to them.

A typical choice for Valentine’s Day wine is Czech sekt, a type of sparkling wine similar to Italian prosecco, but slightly sweeter. Almost any Czech wine store, grocery story, or supermarket will carry sekt, which ranges in price from affordable to decadent.

Other fine options are boxes of bonbons or chocolates from local sweetshops or bakeries. Some Czech women may like jewelry, but much as in America, this is not universal nor is it typical to give at the beginnings of a relationship.

Take a Walk


If you’re looking for the best ratio of cost-to-romance, nothing beats a stroll arm-in-arm with your special someone through the beautiful sites of the Czech Republic, especially after a nice diner and Czech sekt.

Take advantage of the Czech Republic’s historic and natural beauty by walking through one of the many historic old towns and squares. Or better yet, make use of this year’s unseasonably warm winter and go visit some the Czech Republic’s romantic nature spots.

Wish you a lot of LOVE!

Your Team of PraguExpats

It’s time to work on those resolutions for 2015

So the New Year has come and gone, and now it’s time to work on those resolutions for 2015.

Perhaps the most common new year’s resolution is to get back in shape. And while that might be difficult in the Czech Republic (with all the wonderful beer and sausages that you’ll find everywhere) there’s still lots of ways to get back to being fit. Here’s a few ideas to jump start your journey from flab to fit!

Go to the Gym

For those of you who like your physical fitness old school with a side of barbell, there’s always the tried-and-true solution of going to the gym. Big chain gyms like BBC ( and Holmes Place ( often have introductory specials and offer a range of classes from spinning to Pilates ( Some added benefits of these larger gyms are the facts that they’re also more English-friendly than some of the neighborhood gyms and they’re often located close to the larger office parks and metro stops. Some even offer juice bars and saunas and other relaxing amenities if you’re in the mood (and have the budget) for an post-workout treat.

If you’re more comfortable with your Czech, Prague also boasts a range of smaller (and often cheaper) gyms closer to home. While these gyms may not be as large, or offer as many fancy options as the larger gyms, they are often more affordable and they’re close to home.

Something with a more Eastern Flair

Yoga is a big deal here in the Czech Republic. This Indian-derived form of exercise sets aside the weights in favor of using a series of poses and movements designed to work all of your muscles. Several different types of yoga can be found in the Czech Republic, ranging from the spiritually-oriented (for those who want such an experience) to the physically intense.

Hot yoga and Bikram yoga are especially popular these days. These styles, which take place in a room heated to 40 C, have grown in popularity since arriving in the Czech Republic in 2006. Practitioners often find that the heated room helps their bodies loosen up more easily, which is something to be treasured during the cold Czech winters (

Yoga devotees who want something less “tropical” have their share of options too. Nearly every neighborhood in Prague and Brno has a yoga studio, and the craze has even spread to many Czech towns and villages.

Take Up a Martial Art


Martial arts (as well as sports like boxing) are another great way to not only lose weight and get in shape, but also to make new friends and acquaintances. Nothing brings you and your new friends together like a round of intense sparring, after all!

Although many gyms are run by Czech speakers, there are plenty of places to practice martial arts in Prague that not only allow foreigners to train there, but usually welcome them. Traditional Chinese art forms like Wing Chun and Hung Gar, and Japanese martial arts like Goju-ryu karate are all taught in the larger cities like Prague and Brno.

If you’re more concerned with being physical than deadly, Judo, Western Boxing, and Thai boxing (all sports popular with mixed-martial artists) in particular are well represented in Prague, with clubs and training facilities in most districts in the city. Due to a strong Czech fight sport scene, these clubs tend to be a little on the competitive side, but they often have beginner’s classes for those who are just starting out.

Wish you a great beginning of the year 2015 and remember to have at least one beer after your exercise!

Your Team of PraguExpats

Little Jesus, The Devil, and a Carp or Two— Christmas in the Czech Republic

Although often called a “nation of atheists” due to their free-thinking ways, the Czechs nonetheless place a great importance on Christmas as a time to celebrate with families and friends. Gifts are given, trees are decorated, and carols are sung, just like back home. However, there are some special traditions and practices only found here in the Czech Lands.

Before Christmas

Christmas markets (Vánoční trhy ) are one of the most recognizable public manifestations of the Christmas spirit in cities big and small throughout the Czech Republic. In major cities like Prague and Brno, nearly every major (and some minor) public square has a Christmas market setup with stalls selling homemade decorations, goods, drinks, and food. While you might not want to buy everyone on your list a bottle of homemade plum brandy (slivovice ), they are great resources for picking up a few ornaments for your tree or souvenirs of your first Czech Christmas.

December 5th (evening) and 6th (day) marks the Feast of St. Nicholas ( Sv. Mikuláš ), where the jolly saint comes bearing gifts for good children. Accompanied by a devil and an angel, St. Nicholas is equally terrifying and joyous, as he visits the children of the Czech Republic to reward them for good behavior or scare them into being better in the coming year. Good children receive small toys and sweets, bad children are threatened by the devil who wants to them into a sack and take them to hell. Fortunately for all the naughty boys and girls of Bohemia, this punishment is not followed through on, and bad children receive coal or onions or potatoes instead of the sweets and toys given to the nicer ones.

In the villages, the feast of St. Nicholas is often done door to door, with groups of village adults playing St. Nicholas and his helpers. However, in larger cities, there are often public gatherings in the squares where parents can bring their children to participate.

Christmas Time


Even when the big day rolls around, Czechs often celebrate Christmas in ways that differ from most of America and the UK. Perhaps the biggest adjustment is that Czechs traditionally celebrate with their families on Christmas Eve, December 24, instead of the 25th as is done in America and the UK or January 6th, as is done in Russia and areas that are Russian Orthodox.

On December 24th, celebrations begin in the morning with the baking of a traditional Christmas cake, a vánočka, which resembles a French brioche and is stuffed with tasty raisins and nuts. Due in no small part to the difficulty of baking this cake, Czech families often develop their own traditions surrounding the process, ranging from jumping in the kitchen while the yeast rises, to holding thoughts of loved-ones and Christmas wishes in mind while making the dough. This cake will bake all day.

During the day, most Czechs refrain from eating any other serious meals, outside of the traditional sauerkraut soup. A traditional Czech saying recommends this, as the abstaining from all other foods may allow you to see the “golden piglet”, a foretelling of wealth to come in the next year.

Much of the rest of December 24th is spent preparing the dinner. For Americans and British expats is that instead of the traditional  dinner of Christmas goose or roast beef, Czechs prefer to eat carp. The fish is traditionally fried and served with potato salad (a dish more commonly associated with summer picnics in America). After dinner, presents appear under the tree, delivered courtesy of Little Jesus (who brings the presents, not Santa Claus), and the adults relax with drinks.

Finally in the evening, some Czechs go to church. More religious Czech families (especially in parts of Moravia and Silesia) will go to a traditional midnight mass on the 24th. In fact, this is not always limited to religious families— many Czechs view the midnight mass as a traditional part of their Christmas celebrations regardless of their personal religious views. Masses are open to all throughout the city and admission is free. Afterwords, families may go home, while younger Czechs may go to friends’ houses to celebrate long into the night.

December 25th is usually a day of recovery from all the excitement of the 24th, so don’t be afraid to celebrate on Christmas Eve, just like Czechs do.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Your Team of PraguExpats

The Weather is Frightful, But Outside is Delightful

As the weather turns colder, and snow begins to fall, many expats want nothing more than to stay inside by a warm fire and a glass of mulled wine (svařák). But for those of us who love the winter, it’s a heavenly season for outdoor sports.

The winter time is the perfect time to explore one of the Czech Republic’s most scenic resources— the mountains. While the Czech mountains are not as foreboding as the Alps or North American Rocky Mountains, they are more affordable, less crowded, and often just a short train or car trip away, making them ideal for a winter weekend getaway.

Although not as mountainous as its neighbors Austria and Slovakia, the Czech Republic has a surprising amount of excellent, moderately elevated mountains for skiing and snowshoeing. Perhaps the most well-known mountain areas are the Krkonoše mountains. The Krkonoše have some of the highest peaks in the Czech Republic and boast some of the best-maintained and most up-to-date ski resorts, such as  Špindlerův Mlýn. Špindlerův Mlýn is, perhaps, the most popular ski resort in the Czech Republic and has a wider variety of hotels and accommodation than most others in the country.

Another popular destination in the Krkonoše is Jánské Lázně, which boasts nearly 14km of trails and new investments in trail maintenance to ensure excellent snow all winter long as well as night skiing. The relatively low cost of skiing in Jánské Lázně has made it a popular destination for European tourists and winter sports fanatics, but early and late season skiing remains relatively uncrowded, especially in comparison to French and Italian ski resorts.

To the west of Prague, the second most famous Czech mountain range is the Bohemian Forest (in Czech: Šumava). These mountains feature gentler slopes than the Krkonoše, so they are often more kind to beginners. However their cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails are also excellent.

Although smaller than most of the other mountain ranges, the Beskyd mountains near the Czech republic’s south-eastern border with Poland and Slovakia are an excellent location for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts. Although Beskyds are a popular hiking destination in the summer, the scenery there is more than beautiful enough for winter treks. Of particular interest to winter enthusiasts are the trails around Radhošť, the highest peak in the Beskyds and historically a pilgrimage site for Slavs since the Middle Ages.

And if Czech mountains aren’t high enough, you can always hop a short train ride to Slovakia, home of the majestic Tatra and Western Carpathian Mountains. The Slovak ranges are steeper and at a higher altitude than the Czech mountains (as well as covering a bigger portion of the country), so snowfall is rarely a problem. However, some of the resorts tend to get crowded with tourists from around Central Europe who wish to experience Slovakia’s natural winter splendor personally.

Notable Slovak skiing and snowshoeing areas include Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Lomnica in the High Tatras. The Low Tatras also have their share of good skiing such as Slovakia’s largest skiing resort, Jasná, which has been the go-to place for excellent snowboarding and downhill skiing for the last few years.

Enjoy the winter time in the Czech republic!

Your Team of PraguExpats

Top 5 Things You Need to Know About US Expat Taxes

Are you one of the millions of Americans living overseas who were unaware that you were required to file US tax returns each year? If so, this article is for you! The US is one of the few countries who employ citizen-based taxation—which means that no matter where you live, you are still required to report your income to Uncle Sam. To help you better understand your US expat tax obligations, we have outlined the top 5 things you need to know!

  1. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion can be a huge money-saver

Many expats fear that they will face the dreaded ‘dual-taxation’, which occurs when you are forced to pay taxes on your income to the US and your host country. Thankfully the US understands this predicament and has created some important exclusions, such as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to help minimize it. You can exclude your first $99,200 of foreign income (in 2014) with this important exclusion, potentially eliminating your entire income from US taxation! But there’s one catch. (Isn’t there always?) You must qualify as an official US expat in order to use it.

You qualify as an expat by passing one of two residency tests. With the Physical Presence test, you must be inside a foreign country for 330 days of any 365-day period. This isn’t necessarily a calendar year, so there is some flexibility in how you calculate it (including getting prorated deductions if your time abroad spans two tax years). Most expats who don’t relocate overseas permanently will use this test. The other option is the Bona Fide Residence test, which requires that you live abroad for at least one year and have no intentions of returning to the US permanently.


  1. Other Ways to Save

There are two other deductions you may be able to use in order to offset your US tax liability. The Foreign Tax Credit is a dollar-for-dollar credit on every tax dollar you pay to a foreign country. For example, if you paid $4,500 to the Czech Republic and owe $7,500 to the US, you will end up owing $3,000 after utilizing this credit. Note that you cannot use the Foreign Tax Credit against income that has already been excluded via the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

The Foreign Housing Exclusion allows you to exclude certain housing expenses (up to a maximum limit) to offset the often higher cost of living overseas. The types of expenses you can exclude include:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Real & Personal Property Insurance
  • Rental of Furniture and Accessories
  • Parking
  • Household Repairs


The IRS sets higher exclusion limits for those who live in cities with a higher cost of living. This list is updated each year so you should visit for the latest information.


  1. You May Need to File FBAR

FBAR, Foreign Bank Account Report, is part of the US initiative to prevent US citizens from hiding money in offshore accounts. You are required to file Form FinCEN 114 electronically to the US Department of the Treasury if you have $10,000 or more in foreign bank accounts at any point during the tax year. This is an aggregate amount—meaning if you have $4,000 in one account and $6,500 in another, you are required to report both accounts. Note that this is filed separately from your US Federal Tax Return, which goes to the IRS.

Penalties for failing to file FBAR if required can be quite steep. You certainly don’t want the IRS to track you down, so make sure you file FBAR by June 30th each year if your accounts meet the requirement, as no extensions are granted.


  1. FATCA

If you haven’t heard about FATCA, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, it’s time to get acquainted! FATCA is another piece of the US crackdown on tax cheats storing assets in offshore accounts. FATCA requires individuals to file Form 8938 with their Federal Tax Return if their offshore assets exceed certain thresholds (which vary by filing and residency status). As of July 2014, FATCA also requires foreign financial institutions to report on the accounts of their American clients.

This is the piece that is causing an international uproar. This system of ‘checks and balances’ so to speak ensures no one can slip through the cracks. But what is happening is that many foreign banks are simply refusing to work with Americans to avoid the hassle and burden of FATCA reporting, causing serious banking issues for innocent American expats. Like FBAR, penalties for failing to report your assets when required can be huge and can even result in criminal prosecution (however, that is very unlikely).

Form 8938 is filed along with your US Federal Tax Return and if you file for an extension on that it applies to Form 8938 as well.


  1. Getting caught up

You may be wondering what on earth you should do if you haven’t been filing US tax returns. The solution is actually quite simple! The IRS created the Streamlined Filing Procedures specifically to help US citizens get caught up on their US taxes.

With this program, you file the last three years of tax returns and last six years of FBARs and you are considered caught up. The IRS has currently waived all late filing and FBAR penalties, so you truly won’t be penalized for coming forward to become compliant. If you owe back taxes, you will, of course, be responsible for those (as well as any interest owed) but that is the extent of the financial outlay. The program has no official closing date but the IRS has warned that it could end the program at any time.


If you have questions about what you need to file on your US expat tax return, you are encouraged to speak with an expat tax professional who can help you fully understand your personal tax situation.

This article was written by David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, which provides expert expat tax preparation for Americans living overseas. If you have questions about FBAR, FATCA or other expat tax concerns, please Greenback Expat Tax Service.


Your Team of PraguExpats

October Festivals

Although the summer has long gone, Prague is still gearing up for the autumn festival season. Many of these exciting festivals take place in venues scattered throughout the city, so it’s best to split your days up if possible.


October is always one of the most active months in the Czech festival scene. The annual Designblok Festival (, which celebrates Czech fashion and design, takes place in the beginning of the month. This year, it runs until October 12, so there’s still time to go out and see some of the handiwork of the best designers from Prague’s bustling arts community. This year’s festival features some spectacular installations around the city, including the legendary Hotel Evropa, immortalized in countless films.


Last year’s Signal Festival ( drew over 250,000 visitors to Prague to view cutting edge video projections, interactive exhibits, and light installations. This year’s festival looks like it may beat the record, as the festival’s organizing team has been hard at work setting up 21 installations in parts of Old Town, Hradčany, and the Little Quarter. Additional after parties and other side events are also scheduled. This year’s Signal Fest runs from October 16th to October 19th.


If the contemporary art scene is more to your liking, 4+4 Days in Motion is takes place until October 18th, in various venues throughout Prague. The festival combines some of the best work in installation art, contemporary dance, theatrical productions, and audiovisiual installations throughout the city in interesting locations. You can find more information on their website:


For a quieter festival experience, the 4th annual international Festival Fotograf ( be in Prague until the 31st. This year’s theme is “Seeing is Believing”, and its activities include lectures, afterparties, and installations through out the city. The festival finishes on October 31st with a spectacular party at Cafe Neustadt


Fans of Scandinavian, Nordic, and Finnish culture won’t want to miss out on this year’s edition of Dny Severu (Northern Days), a festival celebrating the arts and culture of Northern Europe. This year’s theme is Detective Stories, and will feature interviews with Scandinavian authors, a discussion with translators of Nordic detective novels, and screenings of famous crime thrillers like Nicolas Windig Refn’s Pusher. Northern Days runs from October 21 to October 29th.


Finall, fans of underground music will appreciate BE 22, a week-long birthday celebration running from October 20-26 for the venerable Prague club, Rox. Located in the heart of Old Town on Dlouhá třída, Roxy will surely be packed to the rafters with fans looking to catch one of the high-profile acts on the festival’s bill. Among this year’s guests will be the innovative American dance-punk band Liars, and British jazz-hip-hop legends The Herbaliser. As a special treat, on October 22nd, Czech Soundz will be throwing a free show, featuring 6 stages of music and free entry.


Enjoy October and remember in November 25th there is another movie night of PraguExpats!

Team of PraguExpats

Few things in life are more certain than death or taxes

According to the old saying, few things in life are more certain than death or taxes.

Many Americans abroad have the mistaken idea that expats do not need to file taxes. Unfortunately, unlike most countries, the US requires almost all of its citizens (not just residents) to file taxes every year, regardless of where they live.

In years past, many expats decided to not file their taxes in the US, which was often possible because there were no real rules set to force banks to comply with US tax laws and income reporting.

In 2010, under pressure from their constituents to close off-shore tax loopholes, Congress passed a law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), requiring foreign banks to disclose information on all American clients, regardless of income or type of employment, much like domestic banks and employers do. Very few of us expats noticed this because the law hadn’t yet gone into practice until 2013.

This year, however, everything changes. After years of negotiation and preparation, US and Czech banks have reached an agreement to share information as required by the FATCA. This means that, from now on, every year your bank will be in communication with the IRS in America, whether you’re independently wealthy or a broke student.

Starting soon, banks will ask their American account holders if they wish to receive reports on their financial information every year to make filing their taxes easier. This works much like many existing tax forms (W2, W9,1099, etc.), where employers and universities share their financial information with the taxpayer and the federal government.

Some banks still have the option of not giving consent for their customer’s information to be shared, however the price for doing this is a non-creditable, mandatory 30% withholding fee on all foreign accounts. This means that almost all banks will be participating.

Filing taxes is mandatory for all US citizens who have make more than $10,000 (or the equivalent in local currency) per year, or for self-employed citizens who make more than $400 (or the equivalent in Czech koruna) a year. Additionally, Americans abroad who have more than $10,000 in assets need to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) detailing their holdings and assets.

One benefit, however, to the increased co-operation between the Czech and American tax agencies is that expat payments into the Czech social welfare system can now be credited on American tax forms. This can even help expats who don’t make enough money for refunds become eligible for money back.

Americans abroad are also given special deadlines and credits on their taxes to help with the difficulties of living and filing taxes abroad. This year’s international filing date has already passed (on June 30th), but it is still possible to file a FBAR and tax return, if you haven’t already done so.

If you’re unsure of your tax needs, it’s best to contact one of the many professionals here in the Czech Republic who specialize in American tax returns. PraguExpats can even help you locate an English-speaking tax professional who will fit your needs and your budget!

Team of PraguExpats

All work and no play makes anyone cranky

Fortunately, Prague is a city filled with things to do after the work day is over, ranging from underground clubs featuring the best young bands and DJs, to some of the greatest classical entertainment in Europe. Whether your tastes run to art openings, opera, or all-night dancing, Prague has something for everyone.

Theatrical Entertainment

As one of Europe’s cultural centers for much of the last 600 years, Prague has a well-developed tradition of excellence in classical music and theater. The National Theater (Národnídivaldo) boasts an excellent blend of classical pieces, contemporary productions, and even avant-garde theatrical experiences. The original location of the national theater, (located at tram stop Národnídivadlo, on the 9,17, 18, 22 or a short walk from metro stations Národnítřída or Můstek on the B line) is worth a visit if for nothing more than to see the beautiful Czech Revival murals covering the interior.

Newer productions typically take place at Nováscéna, located in the brutalist glass-and-concrete building next to the stately National Theatre. Nováscéna also doubles as a hangout spot during the day for students from FAMU, Prague’s world famous film school.

Other smaller theaters can be found all over the city, some of which offer international-friendly programs. One especially worth mentioning is Divadlo Na Zábradlí (Anenskénáměstí 5) which was where Czech playwright and former president Václav Havel got his start.

Dance Like It’s Friday Night


Perhaps you prefer to spend your downtime shaking your hips and moving your feet to the newest beats?
Although swarms of clubs line Dlouháulice in Old Town, most serious club-going locals avoid these places, with a handful of exceptions. Nod and Roxy (both at Dlouhá 33) are both part of the same club, which is known for bringing in top-end foreign DJs and hosting experimental art exhibitions. Locals often drink at the cafe upstairs (Nod) during the week.

If you’re looking for something more exotic, Holešovice’s legendary Cross Club (Plynární23, a few meters away from NádražíHolešovice is another mandatory destination. Cross Club’s enormous steam-punk inspired exterior sculpture is famous on its own, but the real attraction are the three floors of music, ranging from drum n’bass to hardcore jungle, or even live music.

Cross Club can get incredibly crowded as the night wears on, so many people prefer to come early and stake a spot out.



Prague also features world-class concerts. Although most big-name concerts take place at the various large theaters and sporting arenas in Prague, smaller concerts can be found daily at various clubs around Prague.

Perhaps the best way to find out about up-coming concerts is through the website (available in English and in Czech), which not only gives concert listings for both Brno and Prague, but also details other events such as poetry readings, movie openings, and gallery exhibitions.

If you’re a fan of just stumbling upon good shows, several bars (which double as concert venues) exist—Rock Cafe (Národní20) has an upper floor, which is a bar, while the basement serves as a venue for a wide variety of hard rock and metal shows.

Over in Smíchov, Meetfactory (Ke sklárně15, near tramstop Lihovar on the 12, 14, and 16) is another well-known venue hosting art shows and live music. Many of the biggest and hippest names in independent music play here, as well as local Czech favorites.

Have fun!

Team of PraguExpats

Your first step after entering the Czech Republic?

Some of you know (and some of you don´t) about the fact all people entering the Czech Republic should be registered with the Foreign Police.

So we would like to tell you that as non-EU citizen you have 3 days from the date of arrival in the Czech Republic to register.

When you register you need to provide details on your accommodations, health insurance, and passport status.

Registration is required for both Short Term visas (up to 90 days) and Long Term Visas (more than 90 days).

Even if you are from a country that does not require a tourist visa, you must register if you plan on applying for a Long Term Visa with the intention to work, study, or obtaining your Long Term Residency Permit.

You can independently register with the Czech Foreign Police within 3 days of arrival by going to Olšanská 2 in Prague 3 for free or, alternatively, PraguExpats can assist and accompany you for a fee of 1,400 CZK .

As EU citizen you are required to register within 30 days.

In the case that you are do not get registered, the Foreign Police can fine you up to 3 000 CZK.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or see our webpage where you can find some useful links as well!

Good luck and more information about to come!

Your Team of PraguExpats

How hard is to get a visa? Read a story of one of our clients!

It was summer last year when I found out I was officially moving to Prague. How exciting, right? My husband and I (boyfriend at the time) wanted to live in Europe but never saw exactly how we would make that happen. And then there was an opportunity! I knew someone who worked at a company based in Prague, asked them about openings at the company and what seemed like a hop, a skip, and a jump later, we were moving.

But first, I had to get my visa and work permit. I applied for 2 separate residency visa thingies (technical term), one was a green card and the other a regular work permit and visa. I applied for both because the Green Card would get processed much more quickly, so if it went through, I’d be able to start working much earlier. But what I didn’t yet know was that getting a green card was one road down which not many had traveled. The green card was introduced in 2009, but only 400 people since then had gotten one. Four hundred people in 5 years… for comparison, employment-based immigration in the US is limited by statute to 140,000 persons per year. In 2012, the US issued 1 million green cards. So.

To start the process, I submitted all of my education documents to be verified by the Czech government. Once that went through, documentation had to be sent to the Czech Labor Office to create the position for which I’d been hired in some database so that I could apply for it and for the Green Card. Once that paperwork is submitted, it takes 30 days for the position to be visible online. And when it becomes visible online, one has to apply for it at the Embassy. And to apply for it at the Embassy, you have to book a date right after the position appears so as to be the FIRST PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD to apply for it. Otherwise, it’s no longer available to anyone. And you’re pretty much done. So, needless to say, it was nerve wracking.

I booked an appointment at the Embassy, flew to DC, showed up at the Embassy with all my super legalized, apostilled, gold-plated and hand embroidered paperwork, various types of passport photos, fees, etc., etc., ad naseum. The woman at the Embassy looked through everything, shook her head, made a face, left me in the strange waiting room/entryway to make some calls (all the while not sharing any information with me about what was happening and why she was shaking her head), came back and told me she couldn’t submit my application. Why? Because of something related to the paperwork super legalization. And the Czech government was apparently in some meeting for the day so I’d have to come back tomorrow once she verified that what I had was enough. Good thing I’d booked my trip for a few days!

Once I finally got to the Czech Republic, I became very familiar with the Czech Immigration Office. I spent more hours than I’d care to remember trying to get my green card issued. You’d think the people who work at the Immigration Office would speak English but not really. Nor is any of the signage in English. Nor is any part of the process written down in one place that makes it easy to understand what exactly you need to bring with you in order to get the card issued. So you just wait in line for 5 hours, talk to someone who tells you that you don’t have everything you need, leave, get what you need, go back, wait 5 hours to talk to someone who tells you there is something else you need, leave, and you get the point.

But finally, FINALLY, I got the card. Which, as of June 2014, they’ve discontinued. Thankfully, I have until 2016 to figure out the new process!

Good luck with your visa process!