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Under contract to teach and fraud, is there a fine to leave Poland?


hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
11 Dec 2007 /  #1
A bit of complicated situation, and I'd appreciate any and all input on the matter. I'm an American who, while still in the USA, accepted a job offer and signed a contract (transmitted by post) to teach English in a private liceum/high school for one year in Poland. I asked the school what I needed to do about getting a work permit and/or visa, if anything, and they told me more than once "don't worry about it, you don't need to do anything, we'll take care of it."

I thus arrived with the signed contract in hand, and I have now been here in Poland for 115 days now and had been getting paid (in cash), with receipt indicating extraction of taxes. I have since discovered they have lied to me about paying for my apartment which they has specifically said they would do in their initial email, and which is stated, if ambigously, again in the contract as their "offering me a flat for 900zl". Because of this misrepresentaion, I have resigned and wish to return to the USA.

Obviously, I cannot trust the school at this point, and so cannot expect an honest answer about the status of the work permit or visa -- and even have enough reason to suspect they lied about that too. I won't be leaving till early January due to logistics, at which point it will be like 130 day total stay. ..

If not for the job offer I would not have come, and have been here only to work. I have read the material concerning residency and it seems to say if you are in violation of visa/work permit rules, you face the 'worst consequences" -- expulsion. That's fine by me at this point.

I have also read that Poland had relaxed work permit/visa requirements for certain professions including foreign language teachers, which supported the legitimacy of what the employer had claimed (ie, that I didn't need to do anything while in the USA before coming).

Will I have any problem with departing the country at the airport? Will there be a fine? Can I be forced to pay it? I do NOT have extra funds to pay for a fine. Would I be detained under these circumstances? What if there is no record of the employer applying on my behalf? Will the contract and pay receipts qualify as evidence of my good will understanding that I was not in violation of any visa restrictions?

Thank you very much for any light you can shed on this matter.
Buddy 7 | 167  
11 Dec 2007 /  #2
You've been stiched up. Try your Embassy, might help you.
Foreigner4 12 | 1,769  
12 Dec 2007 /  #3
hmmm i know one fellow who was deported (american actually) for a 90 day violoation. Nothing came of it really, if you want to go all they can do is tell you to do is "go now." but yeah going to your embassy is a good idea
wildrover 98 | 4,451  
12 Dec 2007 /  #4
Sounds to me like you could sue them for breach of contract....I suspect this school is not going to complain to the powers that be , they tried a scam , and it didn,t work , i think thats probably the end of the story....Its a pity you had a bad experiance of Poland , but i don,t think you have a lot to worry about when you come to leave the country....However , i am not a legal expert , it might be an idea to inform the USA embassy of what happened , just in case you have a problem , i suspect you won,t
szkotja2007 27 | 1,499  
12 Dec 2007 /  #5
Go to your Embasssy and get advice, worst case scenario you get deported, which as Foreigner4 says, isnt a big deal. From what I have heard from Polish friends, most private schools are corrupt in Poland.
dtaylor 9 | 823  
12 Dec 2007 /  #6
actaully you dont need to go to embassy, my ex flat mate had visa for only 3 months. but he left the country after one year with no problems. he was from boston and is coming back next month after obtaining another 3 month euro visa. but maybe contact your embassy just incase.
Monika 4 | 3  
12 Dec 2007 /  #7
I also see no problems with you leaving at the airport. If you are really concerned about it, I suppose you could always take a train or bus out of Poland and fly to the States from Germany or such. I know plenty of people who have been in europe longer than 3 months without visas and have just said that they are taking a gap year or something like that. I've never heard of any problems. Again, I think if you are obviously leaving, there shouldn't be an issue.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
12 Dec 2007 /  #8
I know plenty americans who have been in europe longer than 3 months without visas and have just said that they are taking a gap year or something like that. I've never heard of any problems.

me too

Because of this misrepresentaion, I have resigned and wish to return to the USA.

actually mate, it sounds as tho you couldnt hack it in poland... but never mind
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
13 Dec 2007 /  #9
Thanks for your collective feedback -- certainly feels reassuring on the whole. Have done a few things since my post. Called Polish Embassy in US and was told that I was now illegal and there was not much to be done except eat the fine. Called Warsaw airport border guard who looked up the fine for 20 days overstay (that's my current number) and, after confirming three times that I was "American," stated there'd be a 100zl fine and no other issue.

Called another Poland airport and, after appealing that well the employer/school had perpetrated blatant lies, was told by border guard, "well you shouldn't have believed them." She said you'll have to go through "many procedures" when you get to the airport, and you will have to have a tax, and, well she couldn't think of the word, and then blurted "punishment!"... You will not, she said, be able to come back for one or three years. When I pressed her for details about any fines, she says, "No I will not tell you," but why?, "because you only want to find this out so you can just come to the airport without going to the immigration voivodship office first." Talk about cynicsism!... I might have said, "but then why should I now believe YOU?"

So now I have called the voivodship here in this part of Poland and they are looking up the answer as to what to do. I have read elsewhere that it is conceivable to be given an extension under extraordinary circumstances such as a broken leg. They have just invited me down assuring me I won't be arrested and that they'd try to find what the status of my ostensible work permit and visa is.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386  
13 Dec 2007 /  #10
I don't understand this. In January there will not be a border between Poland and Germany. Just fly out of Germany.
It might even be cheaper, anyway.
Qacer 38 | 125  
13 Dec 2007 /  #11
I don't understand why you contacted the Polish authorities first. In my opinion, you should have gone to the US embassy and find out what kind of assistance they offer to US citizens. Heck, if you're lucky, you might be able to hitch a free ride with a C130 back to the US.
Monika 4 | 3  
13 Dec 2007 /  #12
Just so you know in the future, never go to a country with the intention to work, unless you already have your visa (unless you are planning to work illegally, I suppose-- but that's another topic!) Your visa must be issued in your home country. You recieve an offer from a Polish company and they send you some documents. You go to the Polish consulate in the States and take the documents, as well as your passport and two passport sized photos and a filled out visa form. You leave these, and in about a week you'll get your passport back with a working visa in it. Then you are free to go and work for as long as your visa is. I also really think you'd have be totally fine just flying out of the country, but I guess now that you have contacted the authorities you have to follow through with it.
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
13 Dec 2007 /  #13
I did indeed contact US embassy in Warsaw first and, after saying yah they'll probably blacklist you, they referred me to the voivod. Border guard I spoke to on phone told me they would not be honoring or recognizing the Schengen change until March, so the old rules would apply till then. In any event fare with Wizzair from the much more civilized Gdansk airport was 81zl to my US flight in Kastrup/Malmo vs. a lot more from the Berlin airports.

Just back from voivod where I laid out papers and story and they shook their head in disbelief of the scamming as if to say, yah more of the SOS. Guy first tells me you'll certainly be let out, but it's 50-50 whether they'll blacklist your return here for one year. He called border guard to verify and they told him 100% chance I'll be prevented from returning for one year. I asked for extension under these circumstances and he said well you can apply but likely won't be ready till after you leave.

Again many thanks for your posts.
Michal - | 1,865  
15 Dec 2007 /  #14
thus arrived with the signed contract in hand, and I have now been here in Poland for 115 days now a

How long can an American citizen stay in Poland with only a tourist visa? You will obviously not have the same rights as other E.U. citizens. If you have overstayed they may ask questions at the airport. It is your fault for working without a visa and the fault of the school too so who is really to blame, I am not sure. Say that you have not been working, the school in question is very unlikely to admit to hiring an illegal worker and risk prosecution themselves. If you wish to return to America you will have to pay for the ticket yourself. A good school with a legitimate contract might have included that in your term and conditions or at least it is normal to get the same as an additional months final pay off at the end of the contract. If you like Poland and you are already there, why not try and find a genuine good post, your Embassy in Warsaw will no doubt have names and addresses you might like to contact in Poland.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163  
15 Dec 2007 /  #15
That sucks but in similar case Europeans would be treated in America like ordinary criminals.

BTW which school was that ?

BTW 2 Call TV. American deported from Poland. That could be interesting for them and you could also punish that stupid school, maybe that could also help with other things.
nauczyciel  
15 Dec 2007 /  #16
Hans..... first thing you did wrong was to contact Polish Govt offices. That just put you in the hot seat. SO many offices don't know anything about anything, and continually contradict each others policies and interpret them to their own liking.

You should have just slipped out of PL and flown out of Germany.

Now that you have drawn soooo much attn to yourself, you kinda have screwed yourself of you wanna come back.

So what if the school screwed you.... it happens to everyone at some point. Even me.

What Monika wrote was correct about Work Visas. As a citizen of USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia you are not required to have a "work Permit" according to PL govt documents I have seen. But some PL govt offices require said citizens to have a work permit. So then a work permit is in order. hmmmm so who do you believe?? The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

I was in PL for 15 months as a "tourist" doing a border hop to Germany every 90 days, and it fianlly caught up with me, and so upon advice from the PL border officials, If I was to come back to PL without a "visa", I would be denied entry. So I decided to go back home to Canada for a while.

after Dec 21 it is 180 days in, 180 days out and so on.

There IS plenty of corruption in private language schools in PL.
Michal - | 1,865  
16 Dec 2007 /  #17
I was in PL for 15 months as a "tourist" doing a border hop to Germany every 90 days, and it fianlly caught up with me, and so upon advice from the PL border officials, If I was to come back to PL without a "visa", I would be denied entry. So I decided to go back home to Canada for a while.

after Dec 21 it is 180 days in, 180 days out and so on.

Its still a hell of a lot of trouble to spend time in Poland if you have travel to and from Germany and Canada every 90 days simply to have the right of working as a teacher of English.
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
16 Dec 2007 /  #18
There IS plenty of corruption in private language schools in PL.

Small change compared to what we have here in Canada :)
omniba  
16 Dec 2007 /  #19
and which is stated, if ambigously, again in the contract as their "offering me a flat for 900zl"

There are private schools all over the world which aren't always too clear in their dealings with teachers, so every teacher everywhere should be careful. That said, what exactly is ambiguous about "offering me a flat for 900 zl"?
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
16 Dec 2007 /  #20
what exactly is ambiguous about "offering me a flat for 900 zl"?

Well, who pays?

"Offer" in general can mean bid or present for sale, among other things.

When context shows a commercial transaction,"offer" as "bid", in my informed view, dominates in colloquial American usage over "offer" as "present for sale." Offer thus here retains the element of gratuity or sacrifice that the word more originally carries, insofar as the "surrendering" is construed to be more from the buyer than seller. You're not doing me any favors offering me something for sale, goes the proposed cultural assumption, as much as when I'm offering to pay you some amount for it. The seller is seen as predatory not beneficent, the buyer is viewed neutrally.

(This may be a fertile clue to broader cultural differences in what "commerce" deeply means. For example, European airlines commonly use "offer" in their literature, while US airlines will tend to use "sale" or "deal" or "promotion.")

While that's one source of ambiguity in a general sense, here the context is somewhat different. One reason to believe "offer" means "they'll pay" is that it appears in the next item after the salary. This is especially a credible interpretation if a previous email explicitly says, "we will pay for your flat," which it did. And applying the standard American assumption on the word "offer", the school should be construed in this clause as "buyer" and thus as offering to pay me for something I'm selling them -- ie, here, my services. The alternative interpretation, viz, that they are a "seller" , while plausible, fails to defeat the first interpreation on my reading for lack of evidence. I mean, why offer ("sell") me an apartment as part of the contract -- are you in that business too?

The ambiguity was such that at the time of signing I asked a colleague whether she thought I should amend the contract to repair it. She said no, I can't believe it can mean anything but the value of the free apartment you'll be getting. That this was the correct interpretation was (fraudulently) confirmed by the vice-director on at least two occasions when I asked specifically, "will you reimburse me the 900zl if I don 't accept the apartment(s) you will be showing me?" -- "yes." I was never reimbursed.

Oh and a last vindication came from the mouth of the teacher translating the words of the school's accountant when I demanded an explanation: "well yes it does look like they should be paying for it."
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386  
16 Dec 2007 /  #21
It seems obvious to me that the school had a flat for rent at a cost of 900zl per month.

If that is not how it was/is. Please explain.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
16 Dec 2007 /  #22
hanseatic seak

you appear very confused and desperate to justify leaving a job you have signed a contract for
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
16 Dec 2007 /  #23
Please explain.

Don't know how much more explicit I can be. Email offering me the job said, "We will pay you x amount as salary and we will pay for your flat," and subsequent emails stated they'd have "3 or 4" for me to look at.

I asked in our several phone conversations more than once whether this also meant that in case I was not happy with their offerings, that they would then pay the 900 TOWARDS any other apartment I might select. Warning me at the same time about local prices (ie, that for something 'nice' I would likely have to pay more), he said, yes we will.
omniba  
16 Dec 2007 /  #24
we will pay for your flat

This would indeed appear that you'd be getting a free flat.
However "Offering" a flat for 900zl would, over here in Europe, mean that they had found a flat which would cost you 900zl - so you would be saved searching for one yourself.

Now, you knew that in Poland English is not the native language, therefore you should have double-checked not what you mean by “offer of a flat for 900zl” but what your employers mean especially as, from what I understand, there was no mention of a "free" flat in the contract itself. Correct me if I'm wrong here. If, of course, there was mention of this in the contract then I imagine you have a case against these people.

And no - I'm not in the business, nor am I trying to get at you for I can well imagine that you are disappointed, what with things having turned out differently to how you had hoped.
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
16 Dec 2007 /  #25
therefore you should have double-checked not what you mean by “offer of a flat for 900zl” but what your employers mean

As I explained above, I did do that. It was precisely BECAUSE it was not otherwise mentioned in the contract, but had been so explicitly stated in the email and conversation (which predated the contract by a week or two), that I asked again more than once upon my arrival.

The bigger issue perhaps is that I allowed so much time to pass before I pressed the matter. As I've read, these Poles WILL take the benefit of the doubt anytime it's sitting there. Of course part of the reason I allowed some time to pass was that they told me at pay time that the "rent" was being incorporated in the pay and that taxes were 49%. My follow up on this absurdity was what led to the bust -- and a reinvigorated faith in a few other cultural stereotypes.
omniba  
16 Dec 2007 /  #26
these Poles WILL

You do realize that by saying what you say in the way you say it these Poles, as you call them, are not losing out – it is you who are showing yourself up. Admit it. You weren’t careful. You talk a lot about business practice – but you know nothing about it. Payment due is mentioned exclusively on the contract, not by e-mail. However that was termed, it is an unofficial bit of writing: it is the contract and only the contract that is binding.

The ambiguity was such that at the time of signing I asked a colleague whether she thought I should amend the contract to repair it. She said no,

Consider it this way: you are casting aspersions on a whole nation because of one and I underline “one” bad experience with them. Do we consider your entire nation as being … you choose your own word here, and you know as well as I do what it is….. because of your lack of attention? Asking a colleague, however well meaning, is like asking Father Christmas. You should not expect to get an intelligent, conclusive answer from someone whose experience is as limited as yours – in fact hers was only a mere opinion.

Write this down to that famous learning curve – you have learnt in the best way, through your own errors.
Michal - | 1,865  
17 Dec 2007 /  #27
As I explained above, I did do that. It was precisely BECAUSE it was not otherwise mentioned in the contract, but had been so explicitly stated in the email and conversation (which predated the contract by a week or two), that I asked again more

If this has been mentioned in an e-mail and conversation then it also becomes part of the contract. If he verbally agreed to reimurse you the 900zl he is legally bound to do so. This all goes to show what a waste of time TESOL teaching is and I am very glad that I have never fallen for this trap. Better to get a job for Walmart back in the States!
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
17 Dec 2007 /  #28
Write this down to that famous learning curve – you have learnt in the best way, through your own errors.

So you're saying that his employers are without blame here an it's his fault he got ripped off? Typical attitude I've come to expect from the Poles.
omniba  
17 Dec 2007 /  #29
If he verbally agreed to reimurse you the 900zl he is legally bound to do so.

I'm not quite sure how a verbal agreement would be considered in a court of law, unless of course there were witnesses. Otherwise it's just one person's word against an other's.

So you're saying that his employers are without blame here an it's his fault he got ripped off? Typical attitude I've come to expect from the Poles.

No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that if one intends to go abroad for work purposes it is important to double check the contract and everything linked to the job with some person in authority, not just a colleague, however well intentioned.

This is even more important when going to a non-English speaking country, regardless of whether it is Poland or not.
hanseatic seak's first instinct to have the contract amended was the correct one to follow.
OP hanseatic seak 2 | 8  
18 Dec 2007 /  #30
You do realize that by saying what you say in the way you say it these Poles, as you call them, are not losing out – it is you who are showing yourself up. Admit it. You weren’t careful.

"Losing out?" Not to dignify your ad hominem remarks, but only to clarify: I am not disparaging Polish people, either particular ones or generally. I merely made an observation and connected it to things I've read and heard more than once. The taking of the benefit of the doubt, by itself, given the complexity of human affairs, can be construed as neutral – at least if I give them the benefit of the doubt, ahem. The bullsh** that my rent was 'hidden' in the taxes can’t.

But since youve opened the adhom door, your negative interpretation of my post is itself consistent with a pattern of defensiveness I've witnessed here. You twist what I’ve written into this ‘attack,’ using a passive aggressive figure of speech in the bargain, in order then to serve up your own criticism, which is a banal and tendentious charge that only reiterates the most obvious upshot of my original question. YES, obviously, How F&$%# “careful” does one have to be around these folks?

If it's convenient to cite meticulousness, they cite it, and if it's convenient not to BE meticulous, they aren't. Certainly I've noticed very little of anything like ACTUAL meticulousness. Krauts they ain't. It all bespeaks a profound paucity of generosity of spirit, when it doesn’t just seem outright boorish, or just sad. (This is not to be confused with material generosity, SOME of which I HAVE seen here)

Consider it this way: you are casting aspersions on a whole nation because of one and I underline “one” bad experience with them.

Consider it this way: the original post was a sincere question about penalties, not a veiled excuse for launching a polemic against an entire nation – though naturally, umm, I mean culturally, you found a way to make it that. As a matter of fact, I’ve been here for months, not minutes, and I have had 100s of recountable experiences which are ripe for the classifying. I didn’t fancy this the occasion to carry that out.

I am not at all surprised to have found patterns and convergences with things I’ve read and heard previous to arriving. I know I didn’t arrive with an ax to grind, and I guess my professional anthropological training (ABD) qualifies me, aside from my personal qualities, better than most to make accurate analytical distinctions, and draw reasonable if tentative conclusions.

More than in the States or even Sweden, where I've already seen some of this and have also lived for months, people in this corner of Poland seem to react to things as if they were already guilty. I mean, I’ve heard all about the pervasive low self esteem and inferiority complex. I had no reason to believe any of it. But since coming here, I do see how such a reputation might have evolved.

But to be fair, it all comes out only perhaps in contact with the likes of me, so I’m in that sense as much to blame for it as they are. How’s that for giving the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, if any of these yo-yo’s who eagerly accepted my email address expect anything like the kind of help I didn’t get here when they come California a-knockin’, they better check their collective golonka at the door, and at least read some Emerson, or geeze at LEAST Ayn Rand before they get here! I'd have thought they'd heard that if you go carryin’ pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna... well, you know.

You talk a lot about business practice – but you know nothing about it.

You call this a lot? You talk a lot about me, but know nothing about it. Besides which, and aside from legalities, only people of a very specific cultural ilk (not to mention, in certain contexts, morons) imagine that repeated informal conversations and emails from the hiring authority are anything but ethically, again if not necessarily, legally binding.

Thanks though for your pointed and personal posts, they afforded quite an occasion for putting some of this down on keyboard. Generous eh?

Thanks too for the continued interest and input from other posters.

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