For foreigners seeking to work long-term in Ukraine, the dreaded visa run could soon be a thing of the past. Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers on March 6 said it would allow foreigners to submit applications for long-term visas from within Ukraine, meaning they won’t have to leave the country when they need to get a residency permit or a work visa.
Today, foreign workers seeking residency have to apply for a visa at a Ukrainian consulate in a foreign country. Under the new decision, foreigners will be able to apply here, at the Department of Consular Services, a division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unclear when the ruling will actually come into effect.
The cabinet expects this decision to increase Ukraine’s attractiveness to highly skilled foreigners, including people to sit on the independent supervisory boards of state-owned companies. The move was part of a package of decisions aimed at improving the business climate of Ukraine.
“By May 1, we need to adopt the maximum number of decisions to simplify business in Ukraine,” Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv said in a statement posted on the government’s website. “We’ve set ourselves the goal of rising by at least 10 points in the Doing Business rankings,” which are produced annually by the World Bank.
Last year, Ukraine climbed five spots in the Doing Business ranking, to 71 out of a total of 190 countries surveyed, according to the World Bank’s publication in October. The country showed most improvement in the categories of “paying taxes,” “trading across borders,” and “protecting minority investors.”
Despite this, foreign workers often have a hard time navigating the bureaucratic process of getting long-term residency permits and work visas. They have reported ever-growing demands for paperwork, which prolongs the process of receiving a legal status in Ukraine.
According to a 2018 study by Europe Without Borders, a non-governmental organization which helps people move to and from Ukraine, obtaining either temporary or permanent residency permit in Ukraine is extremely hard, with some of the documents needed to obtain this status practically impossible to acquire.
Foreigners also have problems proving they have no criminal record in their home country, as well as documents showing their registered place of residence in Ukraine. The process by which foreigners can obtain residency registration is so convoluted that many are tempted to use illegal methods to obtain the much-needed document.
The State Migration Service of Ukraine had previously told the Kyiv Post that it is aware of these problems, but that lowering barriers to entry presents a national security risk in a time of war.
Moreover, the rules aren’t even working for people who had invested 100,000 euros or more in Ukraine, who were supposed to benefit from a law that gave them quick and easy residency permits, the migration service told.