The Process of Legally Working & Living in Czechia

Phew…just writing that title wore me out.

As my mom and I have FINALLY submitted all of our visa and trade license documents, I’ve been reflecting on what a long and daunting process it has been.

I wanted to outline everything here, in case you may be interested in relocating to Czechia as well…or just find it interesting. I wish I would’ve had more of a formal outline like this to set expectations when we started our process.

The beginning

We started talking to Jan and the Move to Prague team back in November of 2023. They gave us recommendations on paths to take, documents to gather up, and how to get started.

We didn’t arrive physically in Prague until May 15th, 2024, so there was only so much we could do (regarding paperwork and appointments) from America before we arrived.

Here’s a list of everything that we just submitted:

  • Notarized criminal background check (appointment at the U.S. embassy)
  • Signed bank letter showing proof of funds (minimum $6K USD in our bank accounts)
  • Visa application form (basically our life stories in a form)
  • 2x letters of recommendation from different schools (this took the longest by far)
  • 35x45mm passport style photos
  • Proof of accommodation (signed 1 year lease)

Looking back at this list, it doesn’t seem THAT bad…but now I know HOW to do it all. When starting this, I had no clue where to go to get these things, or how to ask for them, or how to prepare for them…so figuring all of that out was a process in itself.

One of the scariest parts is getting an apartment.

  1. The market is really competitive here, you have to find a place and reserve it pretty much immediately
  2. We didn’t know where anything was or what would be a “good” area outside of random info I found on Reddit and Facebook groups
  3. I had a hard time searching apartments and determining how many bedrooms and bathrooms they had, because they use a different format (i.e. 1+kk = studio + kitchenette, 2+kk = one bedroom + living room + kitchenette, 2+1 = two bedrooms + separate kitchen)
  4. We are signing a year-long lease, not knowing if our visa will even be approved

I spent the first week pretty frantically checking items off our list…going to the embassy, meeting with our visa advisor, setting up interviews with schools, and then at night, searching online and stressing about finding an apartment. I sent out tons of inquiries, and only heard back from a few. Time was running out on our temporary Airbnb situation, and I was losing sleep over it.

The owner of the tattoo shop I went to in Denver lived in Prague years ago. She sent me the contact info of the person she rented from here, but when I talked to her back in January, it sounded like they wouldn’t have any apartments available in our time window. After endless online apartment hunting, I had nothing to lose, and decided to reach out to her again. All of her apartments were rented…BUT, she knew someone who had one available that wasn’t listed yet.

She sends the link over to me…and it is PERFECT. It’s in the neighborhood we wanted to be in, pretty close to everything, and there is pleeeeeenty of space for my mom, me, and our two dogs. Not to mention, it is fully furnished, and recently renovated in my favorite minimalist design. I was immediately like “How soon can we move in?! I’m ready to pay right now!” hahaha. Sometimes things just work out better than we can ever imagine. This was a huge, huge, huge relief and big part in feeling settled and more “normal” again.

Getting registered to work

For our personal working situations, we could basically pick from two paths: opening a business, or getting a freelancing permit (a.k.a. ‎Živno). I initially thought, “Well I already have a business, so I could do that”…but what it actually means is, Czechia expects you to benefit Czechia. This could mean hiring Czechs, partnering with other Czech businesses, working with primarily Czech clients, positively impacting the Czech economy, etc. Which makes sense. But doesn’t really fit my personal business model so I decided to forego that and do the freelance option.

However, to get your visa and residency approved AND be able to freelance, once again…Czechia expects you to benefit Czechia. If you’re not an IT prodigy of some sort, or win the lottery and have a Czech company sponsor you, your only real option is to be an English teacher, because there is such high demand for teachers. So, that’s what we did.

TEFL & teaching jobs

While still in America, we got our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificates. This was no easy feat, despite what people on the internet may say. It was quite extensive, and took me four months (from January through April) to finish the course—squeezing it in on top of working, learning the Czech language, planning the big move abroad, and everything else.

In addition to getting TEFL certified, we also had to get letters of recommendation from Czech language schools saying they would hire us if our work permits are approved. Doesn’t sound too hard, right? Except for the fact that EACH letter means an hour long interview, PLUS a demo lesson where you teach a particular topic to the interviewer…which requires a lot of work and lesson planning time beforehand. Especially being new to teaching English, this was quite a hurdle to figure out what to teach and how. Some even required detailed lesson plans to be submitted.

This has been a LOT on my brain…

On top of moving to a new country, new language…new everything. Learning to teach my native language, while learning a new language…while learning how to immigrate and assimilate in a new world. I have a new respect to immigrants and anyone who tries to create a new life for themselves. It ain’t no joke. It’s mentally, and emotionally, challenging every single day. Some days you feel like you’re finally getting it…others you feel like the rug got pulled out from underneath you. You learn to ride the waves, but it wears you down for sure.

Anyway, all that to say, this is what to expect if you’re moving your life across the world. I am hoping that once we are approved, and feel a little more settled, life can be a little simpler again…until we have to renew everything in a year that is. We’ve officially been here a month now, and I do feel so much better than I did those first few rough weeks. It’s taken a tremendous amount of patience (on ourselves and others), but we are better for it.

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