Employment of Foreign Nationals in Ukraine with a Residence Permit: Critical Immigration Employment Issues

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Despite the ongoing war, many foreigners continue to work in Ukraine, with some planning to start their own businesses or join existing companies. However, not all companies hiring foreigners have an in-house lawyer for comprehensive migration advice. Often, lawyers turn to district migration services for consultations, but as experience and client issues show, these services may not always provide the detailed, case-specific information needed.

Consider a typical scenario: a person arrives in Ukraine to work for one company, obtaining a residence permit based on an employment permit. Later, they receive a more attractive offer from another employer, raising several critical questions that can significantly impact their stay and legal status in Ukraine:

  • Is it possible for a foreigner to change jobs while holding a residence permit based on employment?
  • Who is responsible for processing the necessary documents – the employer or the employee?
  • How to ensure the residence permit and deadlines are not jeopardized?
  • Does having a visa to Ukraine grant the right to employment?

When clients approach our firm with such queries, our lawyers first scrutinize the legality of the foreigner's stay in Ukraine and the basis for legalization. Our immigration attorney, with over a decade of experience in the State Migration Service, is adept in these matters. This allows us to provide high-quality, efficient services, addressing each immigration issue while considering the individual circumstances of each case, and ensuring the successful acquisition of work permits for foreigners or residence permits. This article will address the most pressing questions for foreigners wishing to work in Ukraine, with various documents required for legalization.

Does having a visa to Ukraine grant the right to employment?

Staying in Ukraine on a visa doesn't automatically grant the right to employment. This applies to both visa-based and visa-free entries under international agreements, typically up to 90 days. Such a stay without proper employment authorization can result in administrative penalties for both the employer and the foreign employee and may lead to a reduction in the permitted stay or even enforced departure from Ukraine.

The only exception is entry on a D-04 visa, as it is issued on the basis that the foreigner has already obtained a work permit, thereby fulfilling both conditions:

  • A valid work permit;
  • Legal residency in Ukraine.

However, there are specifics to consider. A work permit for a foreigner is issued by the employment center to a specific employer. Thus, another employer cannot hire a foreign worker under this permit. Additionally, the work permit is granted for a specified period and for the specific position mentioned in the permit. An exception might be the possibility of combining positions by an employee within the same company.

Is it possible to employ a foreigner based on a temporary residence permit?

Another common misconception among employers is the employment of foreigners living in Ukraine on the basis of a temporary residence permit. This permit allows a foreigner to stay in Ukraine for reasons such as education, marriage, volunteering, or other grounds defined by law, for the period specified in the permit, but it does not replace the need for a work permit for the foreigner. Therefore, to employ a foreigner, an employer must first apply to the employment center to obtain such a permit.

What should be done in a situation where a foreigner has a residence permit due to employment but decides to change employers and work for a different company? In this case, a new employer is required to secure a fresh work permit for the foreigner. If the individual intends to hold both jobs, merely executing an employment contract or agreement suffices. However, if the worker resigns from their previous job, the process, as evidenced by our clients' experiences, is typically long and complex:

  1. The foreigner resigns from their initial job, surrenders their temporary residence permit, and departs from Ukraine.
  2. They then apply for a D-type employment visa at the consulate.
  3. Upon returning to Ukraine, they sign a new employment contract and obtain a new temporary residence permit.

This is the correct but often time-consuming and expensive process.

Our legal experts have significant experience in handling residence permit exchanges due to employer changes, successfully enabling foreigners to switch employers without exiting Ukraine. This method also saves the extra time and costs associated with obtaining a new D visa. It's essential to act promptly and efficiently. Properly managing the termination process with the previous employer is crucial; they must notify the State Migration Service and the Employment Center in a timely manner.

Simultaneously, our lawyers aid the new employer in swiftly and correctly preparing the exchange documents. Please note that changing employers without updating the residence permit breaches immigration laws for two reasons:

  • The former employer must inform the Employment Center and the Migration Service within ten days of ending the employment relationship with the foreigner, leading to the cancellation of the work permit and temporary residence permit.
  • The work permit only legalizes the employment relationship with the new employer and does not extend the foreigner's legal stay in Ukraine. A residence permit is necessary for lawful residency.

You may also like: New Rules for Obtaining Work Permits in Ukraine in 2023

Employing a Foreigner with a Permanent Residence Permit: Assistance from an Immigration Lawyer

A permanent residence permit in Ukraine is a document that grants a foreign national the right to live permanently in the country. Consequently, the law stipulates a process for the employment of such individuals without the need for any special work permit. These foreign workers are treated the same as Ukrainian citizens in terms of employment, with the only exception being positions that require Ukrainian citizenship, such as civil servants or local government officials.

It is also important to note that, due to recent developments, Polish citizens do not require a work permit for employment in Ukraine. Last year, a separate law was passed for them, providing additional guarantees for their stay in Ukraine, employment, social protection, and so on.

Immigration procedures can be intricate due to varying interpretations by immigration services, making it challenging for all lawyers to navigate these essential issues for foreigners. However, our specialists continuously enhance their expertise, keeping abreast of all legislative changes and new guidelines to efficiently address your legal needs. Our deep understanding of immigration matters, coupled with a personalized approach to each case, ensures we identify the best solutions for your queries. Reach out to us for assistance in achieving your objectives!

For the cost of obtaining a Permanent Residence Permit in Ukraine, click here.

For the cost of obtaining a Work Permit for a foreigner in Ukraine, click here.

Publication date: 04/08/2023
Ryzhova Tatiana

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Name: Ryzhova Tatiana

Position: Lawyer


Knowledge of languages: Russian, Ukrainian

Email: [email protected]

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Kuzava Vlasta
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