Connecticut, US

Feb 11 2020

Significant Amendments to Immigration and Labor Laws

Belarus

At a Glance

  • Significant amendments to Belarus' immigration laws will take effect July 1, 2020, including changes to temporary stay registration deadlines; broader eligibility for obtaining permanent residence permits; amendment to periods of absence rules affecting permanent residence; and entry and exit bans.
  • Additionally, following numerous labor code amendments, local and foreign employees now have more possibilities to work off the premises of the sponsoring employer.

The situation

The Belarussian government made significant amendments to immigration laws, which will enter into force on July 1, 2020. Additionally, numerous changes were made to the labor code, effective January 28, 2020, which mostly affect local workers.

A closer look

The below key change to the labor code is currently in effect:

CHANGE  PREVIOUS RULE IMPACT 
  • Off-premises work now generally available. An amendment to the labor code broadens options for local and foreign employees to work off the premises of the sponsoring employer. 
  • Off-premises work by local or foreign employees was previously only allowed in strictly defined circumstances, such as working from home or workers who travel as part of their work, such as sales representatives and truck drivers. 
  • Foreign and local workers employed by Belarussian companies now benefit from working in any location, both in Belarus and abroad – they will not be tied to their sponsoring company’s work location or limited to specific scenarios. 

 

The below changes will take effect July 1, 2020:

CHANGE  CURRENT RULE IMPACT 
  • Registration deadline. The deadline for foreign nationals to register their temporary stay with local department of citizenship and migration will increase to 10 calendar days of arrival.
  • Currently, foreign nationals should register within five days of arrival (excluding Sundays, public holidays and other official non-business days).
  • The longer registration deadline will reduce the administrative burden on foreign nationals seeking to enter Belarus. As before, residence permit holders need not register.
  • Registration waived for stay under 10 calendar days. Foreign nationals who will stay in Belarus for less than 10 calendar days no longer need to register with the authorities starting July 1, 2020.
  • Currently, foreign nationals are exempt from registration for stay up to five days, excluding Sundays, public holidays and other official non-working days. 
  • The increased registration waiver will reduce the administrative burden on foreign nationals for trips to Belarus under 10 calendar days.
  • Registration for change in place of temporary stay or temporary residence. Foreign nationals who change their place of temporary stay or temporary residence must register their new residence within three business days of moving, calculated from the first day of stay at the new residence.
  • Currently, foreign nationals must register their new residence within five days of moving (excluding Sundays, public holidays and other official non-business days).
  • Foreign nationals should be aware of this stricter deadline and take steps to notify the local department of citizenship and migration in time to avoid penalties including fines up to BYN 1,350 or deportation. Employers can be fined up to BYN 540. 
  • Broader eligibility for permanent residence. As of July 1, 2020, foreign nationals will be able to apply for permanent residence after five years of continuous residence or after three years of continuous residence for highly-qualified foreign nationals (those with relevant education and at least five years of relevant work experience, earning at least BYN 5,625 per month (15 times minimum wage of BYN 375)). 
  • Currently, foreign nationals are eligible for permanent residence after seven years of continuous residence in Belarus, with no facilitations for highly-qualified employees. 
  • Foreign nationals who may be eligible for permanent residence under the new rules should contact their immigration professionals for advice on how to initiate the process.
  • Absences affecting permanent residence eligibility decrease. Under the new rules, foreign nationals who remain outside Belarus for under 90 days per calendar year will not have their continuous residence status affected for purposes of permanent residence. 
  • Currently, foreign nationals require seven years of continuous residence to qualify for permanent residence. No absence rules are defined. 
  • Starting July 1, 2020, foreign nationals who seek to become permanent residents in Belarus should track the time they spend outside of Belarus each year to ensure that it is less than 90 days. 
  • Absences for more than one year. Under the new rules, absences for more than one consecutive year, counted from the date of last exit, may cause permanent residence permits to be annulled. 
  • Currently, absences for more than 183 cumulative days per calendar year could cause permanent residence permits to be annulled.
  • Foreign nationals who seek to maintain permanent residence in Belarus should ensure that their absences from Belarus are less than one consecutive year from the date of last exit to prevent the risk of permanent residence permit annulment starting July 1, 2020.
  • Entry bans for immigration violations. When refusing entry to a foreign national, Belarussian authorities will be able to impose an entry ban of six months up to 30 years for serious national security, public order and other violations. 
  • Currently, authorities can impose entry bans of six months up to five years for relevant violations. 
  • Foreign nationals should understand possible consequences of violating laws and regulations in Belarus. 

 

Background

Overall, these changes seek to modernize and liberalize immigration and labor laws, while at the same time increasing protection of national security and citizens’ rights.

Looking ahead

Immigration in Belarus is relatively stable, with changes mostly focused on mutual visa waivers and smaller process facilitations like online registration of temporary stay and a new worksite inspection process, authorizing immigration officials to inspect personnel files. Changes are typically carefully developed in practice and allow employers and foreign nationals to adjust to new policies.

Following the completion of parliamentary elections in November 2019, the new government is expected to continue reviewing measures to boost Belarus’ economic growth by increasing its attractiveness for tourism, business and foreign investment. Fragomen will report on relevant developments.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].