March 4, 2014

World Flags Set 4 of 4As the political climate in Ukraine grows more volatile, both foreign nationals and multinational companies located within the country are beginning to feel the structural impact of the political unrest on their immigration statuses. Events in Ukraine are fast moving.

Faced with extensive delays in application processing times, sudden and unexpected closures of government offices and consulates, as well as an increase in official travel warnings for Ukraine, foreign employees and their companies must begin analyzing their current expatriate population in Ukraine, their safety, and the current status of their immigration program.

The country’s instability not only has significant and immediate effect on the entire Ukrainian immigration system, but there is the distinct possibility that these impacts will persist for quite some time. Even after Ukraine transitions into a more stable government, the extensive backlog of applications, as well as any changes the new government may implement, will continue to affect processing times, policies, and requirements.

What regions in Ukraine are most affected by the political unrest?

The U.S. Department of State has issued the following travel warning for all U.S. citizens “to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine, and particularly the Crimean Peninsula, due to the potential for instability following the departure of former President Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government.”

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Crimea. British nationals in Crimea have been advised to leave immediately. The FCO is not able to provide consular services to anyone choosing to remain in Crimea.  The British Embassy in Kyiv is open to the public by appointment only. If you need to contact the British Embassy, please call +380 44 490 3660, or send an email to ukembinf@gmail.com

At the time of this writing, the regions of Crimea, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiyv, as well as the metro area of Kyiv, are the most affected by this political instability and violence has been reported throughout these areas.

What does the situation mean for processing of work & residence permits?

Although many government agencies have reopened this week in limited capacities, including many of the immigration authorities, there are extensive delays in application processing times for both initial and renewal work and residence permit applications. These delays are not only being reported from government agencies throughout the country, but also from Ukrainian Embassies and Consulates located throughout the world.

For those employees and their accompanying families who have initial work and residence permit applications currently in process, please expect lengthy delays and interruptions of permit and visa processing and issuance. In addition, while document services such as legalization/Apostille of vital records, police clearances, etc. continue to be actioned at the time of this writing, considerable delays should also be anticipated.

For those employees and their accompanying families who are currently residing in Ukraine and have renewal work and residence permit applications, the processing delays may result in overstaying your work and residence permit validity. While the Ukrainian immigration authorities may extend exemptions for these overstays due to the extreme conditions within the country, the exact outcome remains unknown as an official statement from the authorities has not yet been issued. Please make sure to remain in contact with your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists, your company’s Global Mobility team, as well as your home country’s Embassy if you and/or your family may overstay your work and residence permits.

Finally, it is very important to note that the extent of the application and document services processing delays will not be known for quite some time. Government offices face the significant possibility for further sudden and unexpected closures due to an escalation of violence in the region, transitional measures, or other unforeseeable events.

What does the situation mean for planned travel to the Ukraine?

The official government agencies are warning against any travel at this time. Accordingly, travel to Ukraine to begin or continue an assignment should only be taken in extreme emergencies and with significant deliberation with your company’s HR and Global Mobility teams.

What does the situation mean for companies employing foreign nationals in Ukraine?

Companies who have foreign employees working and residing in the Ukraine should begin assessing the safety and security of their expatriate population within the country.

For employers considering new assignments to Ukraine, it is strongly advised that these plans be put on hold until the country’s infrastructure and political climate stabilizes. New work and residence permit applications, as well as visa applications, may not be accepted outright or face indefinite processing delays. In addition, the likely possibility of government closures will also greatly affect application processing for the foreseeable future.

For companies with employees who have Ukrainian immigration procedures currently in process, please note that these applications will also face extreme delays. In addition, note that it remains unknown how the Ukrainian authorities will handle the many foreign nationals who have renewal applications in process, but overstay their work and residence permit status due to the processing delays. HR and Global Mobility teams will need to remain flexible to these delays and unexpected changes, as well as remaining in contact with your affected employees, their families, and your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team.

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