A majority of students work while they study, but what if they do not have a work visa?

The Czech Republic has become a popular option among international students as a result of its accessible universities, rich cultural heritage, and affordability. However, many international students come to Prague on student visas hoping to complete their degrees in Europe while working.

They may face some struggles since the student visa doesn’t allow them to work more than 20 hours a week. However, it could be hard to maintain both studying and working more than 20 hours. Many AAU students work at the school—a convenient way to make extra money but not support oneself fully.

Photo by: Rose Mayer

The risk of legal repercussions is the biggest obstacle faced by international students who work without a work visa. Like many other nations, the Czech Republic has strict laws controlling the hiring of foreigners. Deportation, a ban on re-entry, and serious legal repercussions are all possible outcomes of working without the right authorization. 

An AAU student who wishes to remain anonymous stated that it is quite scary working without a work visa—working with the fear of “being deported.” The student is currently undergoing employee training; however, since the student’s visa isn’t eligible, there is someone always watching in case something goes wrong.

“So now when I work, they are always beside in case something happens,” said the student.

Having no work visa also significantly limits a student’s choice at finding a place of employment. Alexa, a journalism student, states that working without a work visa limits her to acquiring cash jobs, which means they work at bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. She says that those jobs aren’t the healthiest, because of the informal contracts, or most compatible with a student’s schedule. 

“When working a cash job like that, you’re not going to be caught because everyone there is paying in cash, no one there is documented, even the contracts you have, they’re often not completely honest,” said Alexa.

It is a risk for employers to hire people without a work visa, but it can also benefit them if they usually do not get caught. Working without a visa can be a dangerous step, and, out of necessity, it is a step a lot of students take. Alexa believes that AAU should help students find a way to work legally in the Czech Republic.

“It’s trying to decide whether you want to sacrifice certain things just to make money, and sometimes you need to, to provide for yourself… It is a bit frustrating because the Czech Republic and even AAU grant us permission to live in Prague to study here, but those of us that are financially independent don’t grant us the ability to financially provide for ourselves,” said Alexa.

Without student loans, banks, and private loan companies in the US that offer loans to AAU students, there are not a lot of options for students. Alexa believes a possible solution is a loan program created by AAU or an agreement reached with the government that would ease the lives of many students, but it is always more complicated than it seems.