Posts Tagged ‘Visa’

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Stepping out from behind international skirts – Unilateral assistance

July 14, 2014

Yesterday evening, Artis Pabriks MEP, former Latvian Foreign Minister and Defence Minister tweeted:

A very direct and unambiguous statement.

His claim that western dallying has cost lives, injuries and preventable hardships has some merit – at least and insofar as the stakes for The Kremlin have remained incredibly low when considering the illegal annexation of Crimea in defiance of international laws, treaties, protocols and memorandi  The Kremlin itself is a ratified signatory of. That is notwithstanding its actions – and/or inactions with regard to securing/controlling Russia’s own border – in eastern Ukraine and the flow of fighters, tanks, GRADs, artillery and cash etc, through its borders into Ukraine.

It is of course, Ukraine that must reassert control of its own borders with Russia on the ground.  Western troops are not about to do that for it.  Blood that will be spilled in doing so will be Ukrainian blood – and necessarily so in the current and contained theatre of a small part of eastern Ukraine.

One of the few benefits of producing this blog in English is that it facilitates never ending invitations to meet with international journalists (normally refused),  academics, politicians and the diplomatic community (normally accepted) to discus the issues of the day, or possible solutions to the problems of today/tomorrow/on the horizon.

The personal views of such people are never directly repeated or attributed from such meetings, but it is fair to say that they are not always the same as the “official view” of the establishments they represent.  Events, such as the on-going Odessa International Film Festival, tend to facilitate many such meetings “on the fringes” when such busy people are in town.

Suffice to say the point raised by Artis Pabriks MEP regarding a more robust response to encourage Russian control of its borders is not a point missed by most of the “western” resident diplomatic community in Ukraine either.  That their opinion is heard within their respective capitals, there is no doubt.  That is part of their role.

That their opinion is heeded and takes primacy in their relevant capitals is an entirely different matter.

So what to do, if once again, the Europeans in particular, fail to activate sector sanctions at the European Council meeting of 16th July?

It is then time, perhaps, for individual nations to stop hiding conveniently behind the EU skirts.  Whilst sanctions may be far more effective applied in concert and identified as sanctions – there are “sanctions” and there are sanctions.

Clearly something the UK is thinking about.  The recent refusal of all but 5 Visa applications for the Russian team that was to attend the international Farnborough Airshow being a superb example of “sanctions” that are not officially sanctions.

“Due to Russian actions in Ukraine, no representatives from the Russian government have been issued HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) invitations to FIA (Farnborough International Airshow) 2014,”

Whilst some may boo-hoo the fact 5 Visas were granted, they were granted to admin staff to the Russian presentation/delegation team.  All technical, government and contract negotiation staff were refused.  Therefore the admin staff had little to administer if they attended.

“The Russian embassy in Great Britain regrets the disruption of the visit of the main part of the Russian delegation for the Farnborough-2014 international aerospace exhibition hosted by the UK, important military-technical cooperation negotiations scheduled for Monday between Rosoboronexport and foreign partners have been virtually disrupted.”

The Farnborough Air Show normally generates about $70 billion in sales.

The same Visa issues were encountered by Russian business at the Info Security Europe 2014 exhibition in May.  Serious expenditure and losses incurred to Russia without any formal sector sanctions – despite defence and technology (together with finance) being the three proposed sector sanctions amongst the European nations (naturally not energy/gas).

Bravo the UK.  Ahead of the curve and acting unilaterally to impose costs without official sanctions.

Let’s see if any other nation will unilaterally follow suit should the EU Member States continue to shy away from their purported values.

But let’s take that thought process a little further with regard to unilateral support for Ukraine.

What do the NATO member countries do with their “retired” and yet fully functional military hardware?  Aircraft, helicopters, tanks etc?  Those that were and remain reasonably fit for purpose despite being replaced by updated models?  They have dropped off of the national balance sheets after all once “retired”.

Why scrap them or mothball them when the relevant national balance sheets no longer assign a value to them?  Why not give them to Ukraine for free – as Ukraine can afford free – with only maintenance bills to foot going forward?

It is not as though Ukraine is an expansionist power.  It’s armed encounters outside of its territory come in the form of mobilising to UN peacekeeping appeals.  As such any retired arms given would be for defensive purposes only.  There is no desire to create “NovoUkraine” in Moscow.

Yes Ukraine may end up with a pick ‘n’ mix military with regard to equipment for now, but such equipment may well be better than what Ukraine currently has – and the “now” is what matters.

Perhaps a little too far fetched.  Perhaps going beyond the always comfortable “non-lethal equipment” assistance is going too far.  Perhaps a little too lateral in thinking?  Perhaps though, food for thought when it comes to temporary and cheap assistance in defending territorial integrity in the immediate future?

If the supranational institutions are for whatever reason unable to act – it is time for unilateral action (cleverly per the UK example if necessary), or coalitions of the willing, to do what they can in defence not only of Ukraine, but of the international and regional order that has prevented the continent from turning in on itself since 1946.

 

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Article 5 Directive 2004/38/EC – Being a “secret shopper” in Ukraine – Well done Greece, the only one to get it right!

July 20, 2013

Elsewhere in cyberspace issues have arisen over Article 5 of Directive 2004/38/EC amongst ex-patriots/immigrants in Ukraine relating to their Ukrainian families and their freedom to travel within the Schengen area of the EU.

In short, this Article provides that direct family members of EU citizens must be granted Schengen Visas free of charge and upon production of passports and marriage/birth certificates/irrefutable evidence of direct family ties – and no more.

Yet no EU individual had managed to achieve this feat, all EU national consulates and embassies demanding more documentation than is required to provide – such as plane tickets or hotel bookings and some financial evidence, employment history and more – in complete and flagrant violation of the above directive.

This is before we consider the recently implemented EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement – which states:

The simplified procedure is also available to citizens who travel to the EU for medical treatment as well as to spouses, children (including adopted) parents (including custodians), grandparents and grandchildren, close relatives who intend to visit the EU citizens or citizens of Ukraine legally residing in the territory of the EU member states.

Of course to many ex-patriots, the Euro 35 Visa fee is no great financial burden.  The hassles and costs of any other documentation requested is more painful in time than money also.

Therefore one could suggest that our Ukrainian family members being treated like every other Ukrainian Schengen Visa applicant is no big deal – Well, you could suggest that if you care not of principle, do not care that the EU – so keen on lecturing Ukraine on adherence to rules – fails to insure the implementation of its own rules  via its Member States on Ukrainian soil.

Tails were recounted of the minimum documents required being OK but a fee charged, or free visa issuance but demands of flight or hotel booking (to insure family members were traveling with their EU spouses/parents) etc – but no tales of successful and complete compliance per the letter of the Directive by any Embassy or Consulate.

“EU countries are obliged to grant your third country family members every facility to obtain the necessary visas. These should be issued free of charge as soon as possible and on the basis of an accelerated procedure. The Commission considers that delays of more than four weeks are not reasonable.
EU countries may only require entry visas for your family members; they may not require family or residence visas.

The right of entry of your third country family members is derived from their family ties with you, an EU citizen. All the consular officials can ask for is their passport and a document establishing their family ties with you, such as a marriage or birth certificate and proof of dependence, where applicable. Your family members cannot be asked to present documents such as travel tickets, employment certificate, pay slips, bank statements, proof of accommodation and means of subsistence or a medical certificate.”

Is that no clear to even the most retarded?

Well it is my wife’s birthday at the end of the month – so prompted by this systemic failure to adhere to this Directive – we decided to apply for a free Schengen Visa under this Directive at various randomly selected consulates in Odessa.

The very first problem is the Ukrainian employees dealing with Visa applications at national consulates.  None knew of this Directive and none would read it and the provisions therein – even when presented with it in writing in English and in Russian – Quite simply if it deviated from the general rules every Ukrainian is subjected to regarding what documents must be submitted, then no Visa application would be processed.  (In such cases I would suggest other EU citizens pursuing this, email directly the relevant Consular Generals, Ambassadors and EU SOVIT teams – who should – hopefully –  put matters right.)

Those that caved to my persistence and made appointments with consular staff did so extremely unwillingly.  Those that did not refused to give their full names to be mentioned in formal complaints to the Consulate Generals/Ambassadors and national SOLVIT teams for which they work.

Upon seeing some consular staff – the demands for additional documentation kept coming – despite their awareness of Article 5 of this Directive – which I helpfully provided a copy of.

All in all, a spectacular fail by every national consulate I visited – except one.

The Greek Consulate was the only one to comply with this EU Directive, demanding only the documents they were allowed to demand and issuing the Visa for free.

Further, the Greek Consulate in Odessa also embraced the recently actioned EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement, and did not issue a single entry 6 month Visa, but a multi-entry Greek Schengen Visa for the maximum amount of years possible under the agreement.

The Visa, I will add was issued within 23 hours of the application – or about 8 standard consular working hours.  Impossible not to be impressed!

So, Consulate General Mr Antonios Haziroglou, Mr Spyridon Mokas (the Attache who dealt with my wife) and the Greek consular team in Odessa – Bravo!  – The only ones to get this right and fully entering into the spirit of EU-Ukrainian Visa Facilitation Agreement as well.

For those Embassies and Consulates that read this blog within Ukraine (and I know there are a few), for those EU politicians that follow me on twitter and will read this via a link, for the hundreds of EU diplomats I am linked to on LinkedIn and will read this entry on my feed, for the 80 or so Ukrainian politicians that are “friends” on Facebook and will also see this via the feed etc – perhaps some “in-house” awareness of this issue would be in order, as there will soon be numerous Visa applications under Article 5 by EU citizens with Ukrainian families.

The next EU citizens living in Ukraine willing to act as “secret shoppers” are already lining up elsewhere in cyberspace to have a go in various cities at random consulates around Ukraine.  Ask yourselves whether you want your embassies/consulates to be named and shamed  on numerous websites and forums, not to mention regular referrals to the EC SOLVIT offices – or lauded as is the case for the Greek Consulate in Odessa – as this ball is just about to begin to roll.

All of this does leave me wondering just why the UK, land of my birth, insists on a 10 page Visa application form, a small rain forest in supporting documentation each and every time (which they no longer return as they used to do), plus up to a month to turn around a Visa for my wife – who has already held 5 UK Visas!

Now to prepare for the beautiful Hellenic Island of Crete!

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E-Gov & E-diplomacy – E-xemplorary service – or not? EU v UK

July 12, 2013

Ho Humm.

As is clear to many readers historically, I am quite proud of my nation – most of the time – as any patriotic and solid citizen of any nation is.

I have a particular admiration for the FCO – not least because I know quite a few people who have served within it currently in various nations acting as Charge D’Affaires, Ambassadors and Consulate Generals or now retired.  That is notwithstanding numerous “boiler room diplomats” behind the scenes I bump into now and again.

Each and every one I know personally are quality people to a man/woman – and every single one of them has always responded to any email I have sent them within 24 hours (unless the standard FCO auto-response “away” message comes back to me offering redirection to another individual in cases of emergency).  Likewise I make a point of responding to anything they send to me equally as swiftly.

Very good – but –

There are times when I do not want to bother people I know personally with a general inquiry, despite the fact I know they will respond even though the general inquiry is well below their station in life and position within the government  machinery.

And so it has come to pass that my passport needs renewal.

I have navigated my way around the .Gov.UK website, downloaded all the forms I need to renew and pay for the new passport and am then faced with having to travel to Kyiv and do “the necessary” in person – fair enough.

However, whilst the website tells me quite clearly the working days and hours the UK Consulate Kyiv is open, I really do not like Kyiv or having to go there – so I want to know if I need an appointment – or not.  The website does not say.  To go and be turned away would annoy me to the point of an exceptionally critical blog entry – and this blog is read by many of those within the FCO I know and would not be best pleased should this occur.

So I decided to ask my mundane question about the requirement for an appointment – or not – via the general inquiries email address for the Kyiv Consulate.

Arrrrrghhh!

ukembinf@gmail.com – What?  gmail?  Why is it not an FCO or .Gov.UK email address?  Something that would give me confidence that somebody professional is at the other end?

All my professional life, any professional e-correspondence was done via professional “entity name.com” or “.co.uk” email addresses – and all private/personal/juvenile e-correspondence done via email addresses such a gmail, yahoo or hotmail etc.

Perhaps it is me?  Perhaps I am peculiar in keeping the professional separate from the personal and wanting to portray a professional image all the way down to using a corporate.com or .co.uk email address for professional activity?

Anyway, having briefly pondered why such an unprofessional email address appears, I proceeded to ask the question some days ago, as to whether I need an appointment at the UK Consulate Kyiv – or not – when it comes to renewing my passport.  I will no doubt have to go through the process of being “biometricised” this time, and would be happily surprised if I can just stroll into the Consulate at any normal working hour of any working day and expect it to be done – pronto.  Ergo why I ask the question I ask.

Needless to say, the unprofessional appearance of the gmail email address has been matched by the fact I still await a reply to such a very basic and mundane question that takes no more than 30 seconds to answer.

Meanwhile on the EU front, clarification was sought relating Article 5 of Directive 2004 38/EC which states my Ukrainian wife is entitled to a free EU Visa upon request, supported only by her passport and our marriage certificate – because she is married to an “EU citizen”.

This email inquiry was sent the same day as that to my inquiry to my own Consulate in Kyiv – to a formal looking generic EC email address I might add!

Surprise, surprise, a response within hours, not only confirming that she is entitled to a free Visa because she is married to an EU citizen but also stating that if any EU nation demands more documentation that her passport and our marriage certificate then the issue should be passed to SOLVIT – an EU entity that will inform relevant diplomatic mission that they are duty bound to issue the passport free and with no further documents required.

Generic and formal looking EU email inquiry 1 – 0 Generic and unprofessional looking email inquiry to the UK – and still waiting for the answer!

As an aside, yes one is left to ponder just why, when my wife is married to a UK for many years – and by default EU citizen – she needs only show her passport and marriage certificate to me to gain a free Visa and visit any Schengen nations she likes – at yet to visit the UK, the EU nation from which she is married to a citizen thereof – she must complete a 10 page application, with supporting documentation such as the production proof of funds, proof of ownership of property, proof of marriage, reason for visiting the UK, proof of employment, declare family members in the UK, previous Visa details and copies thereof etc etc – in short a small rain forest of documentation – each and every time she applies for a UK Visa.

She has now had 4 (ranging from 6 months to 2 years in validity).  There is no way to short-cut the system with a “no change” declaration each time she applies – typical.

She is very, very unlikely to want to overstay in the UK when she can overstay on Mediterranean coasts of Italy or Spain – and despite the fairly high hurdles required for her to live in the UK – she/we can meet every one of them with ease, so she can simply apply for the immigration Visa should she temporarily lose control of her senses and want to live in Blighty permanently.

Immigration risk she is not – economy booster by way of shop until she drops (including property shopping) – she is!

Once again – EU 1 – 0 UK when it comes to (e-)bureaucracy.

Thus far, the EU is 2 – 0 up when it comes to the speed at which generic E-Gov answers inquiries, reduction of bureaucracy and repeated unnecessary invasion of privacy.

If I add 1 to the EU score for each day I wait for a response from ukembinf@gmail.com – I suspect, if not a cricket score, the possibility a rugby score in the offing!

Perhaps if I gather together enough Brits together for a Haka I may scare the awful ukembinf@gmail.com into a response to keep it to a rugby score – or perhaps we will indeed reach a cricket score?

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An open letter to the Foreign Office – Chernobyl Children’s Visas

September 6, 2012

To the very clever people in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London UK.

I write that opening sentence with some sincerity, despite the sarcastic tone it may convey.  I have in my many  years living in Russia and latterly Ukraine met a good number of UK Ambassadors, Charges d’Affaires and other assorted FCO staff as they have rotated through on their 5 year cycles, either at “Brit gatherings” or during “one to one’s” when my presence has been requested.

Not one has struck me as a dullard or as being obviously muddleheaded.  Maybe I have been fortunate.

Maybe it is FCO policy to keep the dullards and muddleheaded that somehow go into the FCO safely imprisoned in the catacombs of Whitehall where it is felt they will do little damage diplomatically or politically on foreign soil.  Then again, there is Craig Murray to disprove that thinking.

Whatever, it seems that somebody has dreamed up a policy that I simply do not understand.

I realise that my seat of university education is in no way deemed equal to that of the Oxford and Cambridge graduates I have met putting Blighty’s best foot forward in the former Soviet Union.  However, I did emerge with a degree in civil engineering and consider myself to be fairly bright even if not the sharpest tool in the tool box.

The policy that I do not understand is this one.  I am something at a loss as to why the UK would remove the gratis status of Visas for the children with the legacy effects of the Chernobyl nuclear incident and reintroduce Visa fees.

Is it an issue of cost?  Does the UK need a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch to step in and stump up the costs and in doing so improve their image whilst damaging our own?

I do appreciate that a six month Visa for a Ukrainian to the UK is UAH 1056, or in Sterling, about 85 quid.  A princely sum I’ll grant you.  After all, if 100 of these unfortunate children visited the UK for free, that would come to the value of a couple of  bottles of the better wine in the Ambassadorial residence in Kyiv – maybe even an average bottle in the FCO cellars back home!

Now I do not quibble of the cost of a good wine mind you.  Especially when entertaining people of import from foreign  nations.  Making the right impression matters and builds personal relationships that are essential.  And yet I wonder what impression the reintroduction of Visa fees for the living legacy of Chernobyl, namely this generation of affected children you now want to start charging for Visas,  also has.

I can only presume this is a matter of cost, although I do wonder just what percentage of cost to the UK it is, in relation to the Euro hundreds of millions that has been donated to complete the Chernobyl Sarcophagus Mk II.  How much did the UK put into that additional sum, on top of what has already been donated over the years?

I’d wager far more than waving a few Visa fees for those that suffer the on-going effects from that tragedy.

Maybe it isn’t about costs?  Possibly I have headed up the wrong path?

Could it be that the UK simply doesn’t want these children to visit anymore and the reintroduction of fees is a deliberate additional hurdle?

But no, that can’t be.  The UK’s consistently declared position over Ukraine is that it supports Visa-free travel for all Ukrainian citizens  within the EU and the people to people contact that brings.  In light of that support for abolishing Visas for Ukrainians with the EU, it would make no sense to add additional hurdles to such a small number of people, when championing the removal of Visas for all the people.

Well, maybe it can make sense.

After all, it is very easy to be a vocal supporter of such a policy if you know nations such as Germany are opposed and with kibosh any real chance of that happening in the near future.  The UK gains favour with Ukraine for the vocal support, even if actually against what it is supporting, safe in the knowledge others will continually stop it happening.

The added bonus is that supporting Ukrainian Visa-free with the EU doesn’t necessarily mean supporting Visa-free with the UK does it.  After all, the UK is not within the Schengen agreement.  The UK can sit back and see what happens before removing Visas for the UK.

Nevertheless, I am struggling to see a diplomatic, economic or political  reason for this change of policy that delivers anything positive for the UK, unless the additional savings equate to a better stocked wine cellar – by a bottle or two anyway – but it all adds up I suppose.

I can see the potential for a fair amount of negative public relations, possibly domestic in the UK and certainly regionally.

It seems strange to be continuing to acknowledge the on-going legacy of Chernobyl by throwing in a few million quid into the EU pot aimed at finally sealing the leaking reactor and yet to be quibbling over the cost of 6 month visitors Visas for a small number of sick children.

It would be bizarre to throw additional hurdles in the way of such children getting Visas when the UK official line is to support Ukrainian people to people contact via Visa-free with the EU – or has that long standing policy changed?

Maybe it is me that is muddleheaded.  Am I missing something obvious whereby this policy change is clearly in the interest of the UK?

This leaves me considering the possibility that this policy is the British “tat” for a Ukrainian diplomatic or political “tit” and whilst the “tat” may not be directly connected to the offending “tit” in this “tit-for-tat”, we all know that everything is connected even when it appears not to be.

Regardless, do feel free to enlighten me as this will be incredibly hard to justify when asked by the Ukrainians I live amongst – and I do always try to justify the actions of the UK positively where ever possible when asked, even if I don’t agree with them personally.

I remain Sir, etc etc

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European Commission, Kosovo and implications for Ukraine

March 3, 2012

Now this post may seem to have very little to do with Ukraine at first glance.  Indeed you may think it is one of those rare occasions where I ruminate over an issue that is not connected to Ukraine.

You would however be wrong.

Here is a communique made by Baroness Ashton after a meeting with the Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.  A meeting that came the day after it became clear that Serbia would be offered EU candidate status and eventual EU membership.

Now the Balkans are not my strong suit.  For those who really have an interest in the political and policy matters of the Balkans, I would suggest you start your reading at the website of a Charles Crawford, who happens to be a very smart and insightful chap when it comes to matters of that region.  He also happens to write exceptionally well and is an acquaintance of mine for whom I have a great deal of respect.

Reading through the communique, there are of course immediate issues relating to what has been said by the European Commission to Kosovo.  Please note I say European Commission and not the EU for reasons we will now come on to.

This paragraph is extremely interesting:  “In my discussions today with Prime Minister Thaci I have reiterated the EU’s wish to see Kosovo moving even closer to the European Union. We have a rich year ahead of us in EU – Kosovo relations: the feasibility study, the visa dialogue, trade agreement, participation of Kosovo in EU programmes and hopefully EBRD membership.”

Let us take EBRD membership, visa dialogue and trade as the core issues.  How can any of these happen when Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania and Greece do not recognise Kosovo?  That is 18.5% of the EU Member States who simply do not officially recognise Kosovo as an independent state.  Ergo that is 5 potential veto’s on anything the European Commission tries to get past the European Parliament and the European Council relating to Kosovo.

If you don’t know how the EU works, click here for my explanation.  Suffice to say the European Commission saying one thing does not necessarily work out that way.  In fact quite often it doesn’t work out at all!

How can Kosovo enjoy any form of visa relations with the EU or even the smaller Schengen Area, if Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania and Greece do not recognise Kosovo and therefore a Kosovan passport?

The same applies to “Made in Kosovo” in relation to trade for these nations when it comes to imports from Kosovo.

You must ask then, why these nations would allow Kosovo EBRD membership and access to the meager funds these nations put into the EBRD to then be allowed to be used in a nation they officially state does not exist.

Why do these nations refuse to recognise Kosovo?  Well Kosovo is born from the brutal break up and fragmentation of the former Yugoslavia as we all know.  However the 5 nations who do not recognise Kosovo all have bubbling away their own internal separatist regions or historical reasons not to recognise its division from Serbia.  Cyprus is in effect already split and reuniting the island seems as far away as ever.  Spain has the Basque region etc.

Even if Serbia recognises Kosovo as a sovereign nation state in the same manner it does Ukraine across all international bodies and international norms, the precedent any similar formal recognition from Cyprus or Spain would increase the  resolve of those within their existing boundaries  for self-determination.  Not good from Spanish or Cypriot perspectives.

Ukraine does not recognise Kosovo either and for the same reasons as Spain.

Ukraine already includes The Autonomous Republic of Crimea.  Crimea has its own parliament.  Crimea has its own constitution.  Crimea has its own very distinct history from Ukraine.  It has its own ethnic native Tartar community.    Should there be a massive ground-swell for self-determination amongst the Crimean public then Crimea quite possibly has a better claim to sovereignty and self-determination than Kosovo and certainly equal to that of the Basque region in Spain.

How the European Commission think they can change the views of Spain and Cyprus in particular with regard to Kosovo, I am unsure.  What is certain, is that trying to bully 5 nations into changing their views is far harder than bullying a single state, and that is especially so when some of those states fear the internal consequences of any external Kosovan recognition.

This will undoubtedly be an issue monitored from Kyiv with Crimea as the backdrop as the European Commission’s stance, or indeed the eventual stance of the EU, may well have serious implications for Ukraine in the years ahead.

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Radical Changes to the Ukrainian Visa System – 10th September 2011

July 2, 2011

Well I have been tempted not to post this until a better picture of how the rather radical changes to the Visa rules appears.  However, posting this now will at least allow for preparation time for what is likely to be a system that will work itself out as it goes along until there is some clarity of interpretation by those enforcing the new rules.

On 1 June 2011, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine passed Resolution №567 on Approval of the Rules for Issuing Visas for Entrance to and Transit through the Territory of Ukraine (“The Resolution”).  The Resolution comes into force on 10 September 2011.

The Resolution changes the types of visas required for entering Ukraine, and reduces the number of visa types from 16 to 3 (i.e., transit, short- and long-term visas).  It also consolidates information that previously existed in different acts in respect of visa validity, grounds for issuing, state fees, and the issuing authorities.

According to the new rules, foreign individuals working in representative offices will be able to obtain temporary residence permits based on their long-term visas.  Moreover, dependents of holders of Ukrainian Temporary Residence Permits will be able to apply for short-term Ukrainian visas based on their marriage certificates, or any other document confirming family ties, i.e., visa invitations issued by local immigration authorities will not be required.

The above mentioned Decree revokes the visa types existing at present.  In the place of cultural, religious worker’s, business, private or other visa types the following three types are going to be implemented:

1.    Transit visa (B).
2.    Short-term visa (C).
3.    Long-term visa (D).

The short-term visa allows foreigners to stay in Ukraine no more than 90 days during 180 days from the day of their first entry.  The short-term visa may be a single-entry, double-entry or multi-entry type for a period of six months or for any other period that does not exceed five years.  However, the list of countries citizens of which may enter Ukraine without a visa for 90 days during the 180 days from the day of their first entry has not changed.

The foreigners wishing to stay in Ukraine longer than 90 days must obtain a Long-term visa that may be issued as a single entry visa for 45 days to enter Ukraine in order to get a temporary resident’s registration.

Therefore, pursuant to the above mentioned Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, a foreigner desiring to stay in Ukraine longer than 90 days seemingly must first obtain, in particular, work permit for employment in Ukraine or have an invitation from a religious organization approved by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, then he must get a 45-day long-term visa, and then, upon his arrival to Ukraine, receive a temporary resident’s registration during these 45 days.

It is probably foolish to expect a seamless and smooth transition despite the apparent and obvious simplification by reducing the number of Visa types from 16 down to 3.  It will be wise to wait and see how high the bar is set for the obtaining of a Long-term Visa.  Will it be the height which currently dictates the IM-1 or will it be the far lower height for the Private and Business Visa?   It is expected that more changes in respect of obtaining residence permits will be introduced in the near future, as the respective draft laws are submitted to Parliament.

Will do my very best to answer that before 10th September 2011 when these changes come into effect.  In theory this seems to be a step in the right direction.  In practice…….well we will have to wait and see!

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TRP/IM1 Visa Changes – Interpol

June 8, 2011

Well, in a statement attributed to PwC by the BBCU who are very careful about to whom they attribute quotes, quite rightly, we have this relating to Temporary Residence Permits/IM1 Visas:

The Ukrainian immigration authorities have implemented compulsory Interpol checks within the procedure of issuing temporary residence permits (TRP). This increases the duration of the initial procedure to five working days.
At this stage, there is no requirement to perform the same check while prolonging a TRP.
There is currently no official legislation regarding the procedure for obtaining/prolonging Ukrainian temporary residence permits. Therefore, some additional documents might be requested during the application procedure by different immigration authorities (e.g. the procedures and documents are different at the Kyiv and Kyiv Region immigration authorities).
Taking into account the continual changes in the list of required documents, applicants should be prepared to provide additional supporting/confirmation documents and information and allow sufficient time in the process to allow for such additional requests.

NOTE: The Kyiv City immigration authority has been audited by the Prosecutor’s office for the last several weeks and we are aware that documents related to the registration of a number of foreign nationals in Ukraine have been seized. The audit has also resulted in some staff changes, including the appointment of the new acting Head of the Kyiv City immigration authority.

Of course, no big deal, to introduce an Interpol check done for the IM1 Visa/ TRP (however you want to refer to it), it is part of the process for the IM2/Permanent Residency process already.  Thus on the face of it just seems that Ukraine is trying to insure no internationally wanted villains get to hide in Ukraine for the year the IM1 Visa is valid for (or for good in the case of IM2).

What is more interesting is that the PGOs office has been auditing the Kyiv City Immigration Authority for the past few weeks, seized documents relating to some foreigners and replaced several of the staff.  Unsurprisingly the boss’ head has also rolled, as one suspects that there will be a number of necessary documents “missing” or “suspect as to their authenticity” for some foreigners who are quite simply unable to get (or wished to circumvent) the complete list of documents for an appropriate “administrative fee”.

That is not to say the “administrative fee” went to the boss whose head has rolled.  It may never have reached them.  It is though their responsibility to insure that all is as it should be.

One wonders how these thing were not picked up in EU audits.  For certain Odessa is subject to EU audits of the Odessa City Immigration Authority.  I know, as last time I was there, the chap in charge (who is a friend)  was undergoing the audit at the time I was sorting out IM2 documentation for an American gentleman I know.

Apparently, according to the Odessa Chief, Odessa is audited on average once every 6 months by the EU when it comes to foreigners and related documentation.  Sometimes he will get a call in the morning stating the EU people will arrive in the afternoon and other times he gets no warning at all.  True or not, I have no idea, but I have no reason to doubt him.

Was an EU audit responsible for the PGO action in the Kyiv City Immigration Authority?  Was it the result of a police bribery sting?  (They happen all the time in Odessa as well).  It seems unlikely that it is politically motivated decapitation at the Kyiv City Immigration Authority for internal motives when it comes to using foreigners as a tool, although you never know I suppose.

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