Entry into Ukraine of persons with dual citizenship

Multiple citizenship gives a person wider opportunities: having several documents, a person has the right to choose where to live, where to use the health care services, where to officially find a job, etc.

However, such a situation may create additional problems associated with the status of a person in a particular country and the entry and exit rules of different countries.

As for Ukraine, there is the single citizenship principle in the country. This means that a person holding a Ukrainian passport will be perceived only as a citizen of Ukraine in terms of the Ukrainian legislation (and respectively, for law enforcement agencies). And the second, third, etc. citizenship will not matter.

Today we will talk about incidents that may happen to a dual national entering Ukraine and will tell how to avoid them.

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Legal advice for dual nationals entering any country 

There are simple rules that in most cases will help you avoid misunderstandings when entering the country:

  • Enter the country with a passport of this country (if any);
  • When leaving the country, use the same document that you used to enter this country.

But what to do if the situation is far from standard? We will describe two non-standard situations that we quite often encounter in our practice. 

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What should a person who has left Ukraine for a long time (more than 90 days) and wants to return to its territory again do?

Many people are wrong in believing that a “break-up” with the country is an inevitable process and forever. And to return to the country, they need to collect documents as an ordinary foreigner - to get a residence permit, to undergo other bureaucratic procedures.

However, that’s not true. The principle of single citizenship also has a reverse side - it is not so easy to lose Ukrainian citizenship. Of course, there is a mechanism for the withdrawal of citizenship, but in practice it is applied in exceptional cases.

Therefore, in most cases, such a person does not lose citizenship, so he/she does not need immigration documents, and won’t face any problems when returning back to the country with the Ukrainian passport.

What to do if a citizen of Ukraine came to Ukraine with a foreign passport and has already overstayed in the country or otherwise violated the requirements of the migration law?

In this case, the Ukrainian citizenship will help you avoid liability, since it is absurd to hold a citizen liable for overstaying in Ukraine.

However, since a person has already entered the country with a foreigner’s passport, law enforcement agencies may try to hold a person administratively liable for violation of the border crossing rules, namely, for presenting documents that contain false information. This is a common practice of state authorities, but courts often take the side of a person, confirming the possibility of obtaining a second passport and entering Ukraine with it.

Of course, this applies only to cases where a document is obtained legally, and no false or self-made documents are used.

As for other violations, it’s worth remembering that a person is a citizen of Ukraine, and most restrictions on travel and stay in Ukraine, which may be applied to foreigners, can’t be  applied to him/her.

Can I enter Ukraine with a second foreign citizenship and what are the consequences?

If you have dual citizenship and enter Ukraine with a foreign passport, there are several case scenarios:

  1. Your Ukrainian passport will be spotted in the border guards’ database and they will have a question for you: “Why didn't you show it? If things shape up in your favor, the border guards will let you enter the country as a citizen of Ukraine. In the worst-case scenario, you may be charged with an administrative offense. You will not incur any fines or other penalties, as the Ukrainian legislation does not provide for administrative or criminal liability. You can challenge it through the court and in 100% of cases the verdict will be in your favor. 

  2. If you left Ukraine before 2004, you will not be listed in the border guards’ database, and you will be allowed to enter Ukraine as a foreign citizen. In this case you will need to stay in the country for a limited number of days as stipulated by the visa or regulations. You can overstay in the country, then make a Ukrainian passport for traveling abroad and leave Ukraine wherever you want, but in the database of the border guards your foreign passport will be listed as one that stays on the territory of Ukraine with an overstayed authorized period of stay in the country.

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The example described above illustrates only one of the possible problem situations when entering and leaving Ukraine. Similar pitfalls exist when obtaining a visa to enter Ukraine, or another official document, and even a banal border crossing.

It should be understood that migration issues contain a large number of nuances that are constantly changing, and therefore the entry / exit procedure may differ dramatically after a year (for example, specific restrictions and prohibitions under COVID-19).

Our lawyers know and understand migration practice and can:

  • help to enter Ukraine without hindrance both for short-term and with the prospect of long-term stay (with the possibility to obtain a temporary / permanent residence permit);

  • prepare without your personal presence all the necessary documents (health insurance policies, invitations, etc.) to obtain a visa / possibility of legal long-term stay in Ukraine;

  • help to find solutions to the problem situation (related to the refusal of consular offices to issue a visa, reissuance of an official document (passport in case of expiration / replacement of initials), etc.

If you are going to return to Ukraine and want to know how to properly arrange the process, or have any questions concerning your stay in Ukraine, don’t hesitate to call us!

Publication date: 27/03/2020

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