Posts Tagged ‘visas and permissions’

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Out with the old and in wih the new – Ukrainian Visa system changes today

September 10, 2011

Out with the old and in with the new. Well yes and no, depending upon what you read and who you pay attention to.

To cut a long story short 16 Ukrainian Visa types are no longer issued with effect from today and are replaced by only 3, Transit, Short Term and Long Term. Not news to you dear readers as I did tell you months ago this was going to happen and when.

Well, today is that “when” in question.

I also promised to try to keep you up to date about the intricacies where ever possible.

So, click here for the Ukrainian Embassy to the UK announcement and click here for the US Embassy Kyiv announcement.

If you are incredibly brave click on both as there are some inconsistencies and people who are subject to Visas do tend to get quite emotional and frustrated when they are being told different things.

An example being, for those still holding valid visas for Ukraine, the US Embassy states, “If you have a valid visa and OVIR registration but not a residency permit you can stay in Ukraine as long as your current registration is valid. Once you leave the country, however, you will need to obtain a new visa abroad to qualify for legal residency under the new system. Regardless of the expiration date, “old” pre-September 10 visas will no longer be valid for entry into Ukraine after September 10.”

That is not mentioned by the Ukrainian Embassy to the UK and therefore infers that existing Visas will be allowed to run their course until expiry date under the old rules.

That was in fact confirmed by Mr. Andriy Olefirov, Director-General for Consular Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine at an open meeting only a few days ago duly attended by many foreigners currently holding Visas under the old scheme. They do not need to get a new Visa until the old Visa expires.

The US Embassy is therefore apparently misinformed if you work on the premise that the Ukrainian Embassy issuing Visas for applicants from England and Wales and Mr Olefirov of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine know more about issuing Ukrainian Visas than the US Embassy in Kyiv that doesn’t issue Ukrainian Visas.

I told you some months ago this would not be a seamless process and it would seem an absolute nonsense to make visa holders of the old system, some with considerable time still to run before expiry (indeed some only issued last week), have to buy new visas should they have occasion to leave Ukraine before the expiry dates of the old system visa.

The problems will concentrate themselves in familiar places. The OVIR offices and which Visas, if any, of the old system they will continue to extend (or not) and the height of the qualification bar for the new Long Term Visa as intgerpreted at the issuing Ukrainian embassies and consuls around the planet.

One has to suspect the US and Ukrainian embassies will end up being right half the time, depending on individual OVIR decisions throughout the regions. T’was ever the case the regional interpretation was the only one you were concerned about under the old system anyway.

Nobody has said, as yet, how high the bar for the new Long Term Visa is set. As it replaces most of the 16 Visas that existed before, all of which had different criteria to reach to be granted. Is the bar for the Long Term Visa set at the height of the old IM-1 which required a veritable tome of paperwork from applicant and employer, is it based on an official invitation as per the old Student Visa or God Squad Visa from a recognised national institution, or is it as low as the Private Visa and Business Visa used to be, requiring nothing more than an invitation from a Ukrainian citizen or entity.

The Private Visa was after all requested by many an OVIR prior to registration passed 90 days for those married to Ukrainians who were under the 2 years of marriage point where upon reaching said 2 years, can apply for Permanent Residency.

It is as yet, unclear whether there is a set height for the Long Term Visa or whether, depending upon your reason for applying for it, the numerous different heights still apply.

Feel free to write up your experiences in the comments section for the other readers or simply let me know so I can pass on your experiences of joy or woe.

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The next session – Laws to come before the New Year

August 25, 2011

Apologies for my absense.  It is fair to say, should you read the previous post you may be somewhat understanding as to the reasons why even if you are not overly sympathetic.

I did have a far more thought provoking post for today relating to Ukrainian NGOs (and foreign NGOs in Ukraine) however I had written it and saved it over at a different site of mine which conveniently (or not) was suffering like me and went down to an HTTP 500 server error yesterday.  Needless to say you will have to wait for that delight which springs from a somewhat “spirited joust” between the (mostly) retired and largely irrelevant minor ex-diplomats and politicians I spent Independence Day with.

Today however, with the RADA soon to return to work in a week or two, I thought we could have a peer into my fairly usually reliable crystal ball and look at what major legislation is likely to go before the RADA (possibly a few times if subject to Presidential veto and suggested amendments) and become law by the year end.

Pension reform will be tweaked and introduced (even if the start date of reforms conveniently falls after the parliamentary elections in October 2012). 

The budget for 2012 will be passed with relative ease and in plenty of time (although it will be extremely interesting to look at the provisions for pensions and utility subsidies as per IMF demands).

Changes to the laws on both parliamentary and local elections will also hit the parliament between September and January and will also pass.  It will be interesting to see the “critique” from the Vennice Commision and OSCE.

The laws on agricultural land ownership will also be subject to change one has to suspect during this session.

A fairly busy session ahead when it comes to major reforms.

It also remains to be seen, although it is fairly certain, if the DCFTA and AA between Ukraine and the EU get their initialing before going for ratification.  The Russian rhetoric and levers are now visibly being employed in a late bid to change the Ukrainian course.

Notwithstanding when comes in the way of new laws, we will have the implementation of laws passed in the last session, one of the more entertaining of which commences on 10th September with the complete scrapping of the previous 16 Visa types for Ukraine and the introduction from that date of transit, short and long-term Visas only.  A smooth transition?  I will let you know as the tails of woe and frustration mount up (or not) of the Expat forums.

All in all, a particularly interesting 3 months lay ahead notwithstanding any dramatic external influences as yet to appear over the horizon.

Hopefully the server to a different site will have dealt with its HTTP 500 issue (as swiftly as I have dealt with alcohol poisoning) and tomorrow there will be a more thought provoking look at NGOs.

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Know you own website – British Council and IELTS

July 7, 2011

Well yesterday whilst being fitted with new face furniture to aid the ability to read, the good woman and her friend unbeknown to me, decided to descend upon the British Council office at 5 Fantana in Odessa.

The reason they went, IELTS. This is a system accepted by UK schools and universities grading the knowledge of English for a foreign student. It has entered the head of our boy (if 16 years old still counts as a boy) and the good woman’s friend’s youngest daughter that they wish to go to university in the UK.

Our boy has decided that he would be rather partial to studying at the LSE whilst the daughter of a friend wants to do a BA (Hons) in Photography at Portsmouth University. As both are 16 years old, it is some years away yet and both are soldiering on at school in Odessa until they reach 18.

The “Rule of P” (Planning and preparation prevents p*ss poor performance) being foremost in these mothers minds, they duly headed to the only British NGO in Odessa remotely directly connected to Britain, IELTS and promoting all things British (including education, a major source of revenue to the UK when it comes to legitimate foreign students).

My good lady knows the lady who runs the British Council in Odessa (the rather wonderful Lyudmila Tatsenko upon whom this tale has no reflection) as she has been present when the good woman and I have met with the luminaries of HM Embassy Ukraine on several occasions here.

After a brief exchange of pleasantries with Lyudmila, the good woman and friend where directed towards a woman called Irena who “looks after” education for the British Council in Odessa. It soon became apparent that the British Council only conduct the IELTS tests and do not run preparatory courses for potential examinees. At lest that is what Irena told the good woman and friend.

Further more, she did not know anybody who did run preparatory IELTS courses in Odessa. The good woman and friend duly left the British Council rather crest-fallen as failing any IELTS examination puts pay to their offspring’s aspirations of a British university education and one imagines that to score highly enough on an IELTS examination for a British university is not going to be a simple accomplishment. Furthermore, the good woman herself wants to do a Master’s on-line via a British university and one suspects will have to do the IELTS as well.

Anyway, I return home with new (and rather nice) reading glasses, to then be told of their expedition and unsatisfactory outcome. Finding it rather difficult to believe that the only British NGO specifically tasked with promoting Britain (and British education) had failed so miserably to offer anything other than the IELTS examination (at the cost of UAH 1500) and not even a smidgen of other assistance, I donned new reading spectacles and pulled up the British Council website.

Lo and behold! – What did I find, if not a free on-line British Council 30 hour IELTS preparation course which had not been mentioned during the 30 minutes the good woman and friend had pressed the British Council for help! Indeed a good start although I felt that 30 hours is hardly enough to prepare my boy for an examination that will have considerable influence on his future when it comes to where he will go to university.

New spectacles still affixed to my nose, I then proceeded to delve through the hundreds of business cards collected during my years here and began to telephone the English language schools run by Brits in Odessa in search of a particular chap I had met but who’s name I could not recall but distinctly remembered he had told me he carried out preparatory IELTS courses. Within a matter of minutes, one of the better (or at least legal, all native tongued teachers having Work Permits and IM-1 Visa’s sponsored by the school) did indeed do an IELTS preparation course. It was indeed the school of the chap I was trying to locate.

This particular school is run by a young chap who comes from Hull University by graduate background and whom I met whilst in the company of the luminaries from UK Embassy when visiting Odessa. Needless to say, if I met him at such an event, so did the people from the British Council in Odessa (as they are always present for group meetings and group hugs) and I seemed to recall he mentioned he provided an IELTS preparation course. (The eyesight maybe fading but the memory is not……at least not yet)

Notwithstanding not mentioning or knowing the British Council offers 30 hours of free IELTS preparation free and on-line, you would think in a city as small as Odessa and with no more than 100 British people living and working in it (at most) and even fewer running English language schools or teaching in them, it is not particularly difficult to make follow up telephone calls from exchanged business cards at UK Embassy sponsored Brit gatherings to find what the schools actually offer said Brits own/run or work at.

As there is at least one (there maybe more) British owned school in Odessa offering IELTS preparation courses for an examination the British Council in Odessa conducts, you would think they would know about it and also promote it to people like my good lady and her friend prepared to invest £60,000 and more into their children’s education at UK universities……if they can pass the IELTS course with a suitably high grade.

You come to expect Ukrainian institutions to offer little help and that you will have to do all the detective work, but you expect the British institutions (particularly those promoting Britain and paid for by the British tax payer) to be a font of all knowledge when it comes to their locality and businesses that possess a synergy to the ultimate services it provides.

No? Times have changed and the UK is not the UK I remember? Things are not that “joined-up”? Very well, but you would at least expect them to know what is on their own website!

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