Ultimate immigration guide for IT nomads in Ukraine
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
If you are an IT professional and are interested in relocating to Ukraine, then we have wonderful news for you – Ukraine severely competes for IT nomads on the global market.
You may be surprised, but Ukraine even created the Ministry of Digital Transformation that works on turning Ukraine into a world leading IT hub. Part of this goal is bringing as many IT professionals to Ukraine as possible. Right now, Ukraine has been experiencing an opposite scenario – best Ukrainian IT workers swap Ukraine in favor of US, Canada, Poland and other countries that offer bigger projects and better social life. Another interesting fact is that it is not necessarily that a Ukrainian IT programmer will earn more in another country as a salary of USD 2000 or even USD 5000 per month is not a big deal on the Ukrainian domestic IT market.
Therefore, the Ukrainian government has been implementing more and more impetuses to persuade local programmers to stay in Ukraine and to bring more programmers from abroad. Here are some of such impetuses:
5% income tax;
E-residence, when a foreigner can become a Ukrainian business resident remotely online and work as such from any location on our planet;
permanent residence status for IT professionals.
For example, the Ukrainian Government estimation was to bring at least over 4000 foreign IT workers in 2021 and for 2022 it is around 3500 IT nomads.
If you envisage that you might be next IT nomad in Ukraine in 2022 or you find the Ukrainian E-residence and 5% income tax attractive, then below we are going to explain all the pros and cons together with the procedures in detail:
ALMOST A TAX HEAVEN
Yes, if you run an IT business in Ukraine you can choose the so called “Simplified Taxation System” that does not only provide for a law 5% tax but also for a very basic accounting and tax administration. Moreover, you can enjoy this “Simplified Taxation System” doing business through your own limited liability company in Ukraine (LLC) or being registered as a private entrepreneur (aka FOP or sole entrepreneur), or having both – LLC and FOP.
*Please remember this FOP title as we will refer to it in this article many times and it is one of the biggest advantages for business that Ukraine has.
We’ve already described the difference between an LLC / FOP and pointed out their advantages and disadvantages. You can read this material here.
As of now, E-residence is still a concept and it does not work in full capacity. Yet everyone can already apply for E-residence to book his place. The concept must start working since July 2022 and will allow:
to obtain the status of FOP and pay this 5% tax without visiting Ukraine and being present here;
to open a business bank account in a Ukrainian bank online.
All is done free of charge and online.
E-residence is an option. A foreign IT specialist can decide if he wants to use this option or simply to come to Ukraine and to do everything offline, to stay in Ukraine and to work from here.
Although, it is important to stress that the status of E-resident does not allow you to stay in Ukraine over your visa or visa-free days.
IMMIGRATION FOR IT NOMADS
As of now IT nomads relocate to Ukraine mainly via either of 2 options:
they are properly hired by a Ukrainian IT company. This does not happen often as it is complicated to hire a foreigner. Moreover, IT companies in Ukraine prefer to work with FOPs instead of hiring even when they deal with Ukrainian citizens;
they register their own companies in Ukraine and work through them.
These options are needed because in these cases a foreigner can obtain temporary residence for 1 or 3 years. Otherwise, they can’t stay in Ukraine longer than their visa or visa-free status allows for (usually for 90 days).
Immigration provides for permanent residence. The status of permanent resident gives 2 main benefits:
no need to obtain a work permit in order to work in Ukraine. This makes your employment in Ukraine much cheaper and simpler for an employer;
no need to have a company for doing business in Ukraine that is, again, simpler and cheaper.
Every year the Ukrainian Government gives a certain number of quotas for IT specialists allowing them to come to Ukraine and stay here for as long as they want becoming Ukrainian permanent residents. In 2021 there were more than 4000 of these quotas.
There are mainly 3 stages on the way to become a permanent resident via IT quotas:
obtaining an immigration permit. The whole process takes about a year. Sometimes it is done sooner, sometimes a bit longer.
obtaining a special long-term immigration visa (aka D-01).
obtaining a Permanent Residence Permit (hereinafter referred as the “PRP”).
The second stage (getting a PRP) takes only 15 business days and is easy. Getting the immigration permit is the one that is tricky so let’s dwell on it now.
Getting an immigration permit
To apply for an immigration permit you need to submit:
application. It is filled out by a staff member at the immigration office or the consulate where you apply from. But you should have information prepared about all your close relatives (spouse, children, parents, siblings; their dates of birth and addresses of living). Just have this info ready as it will be filled in your application.
3 photos (3.5 x 4.5 centimeters);
notarized translation of your passport into Ukrainian;
document proving your residence address in Ukraine and in your home country;
criminal record background check made in your country (unless you are already a temporary resident of Ukraine);
indorsement letters from the Ministry Economy of Ukraine and the Ministry Digital Transformation of Ukraine;
medical examination statements that you are not sick of chronic alcoholism, drug edict and several specific infectious diseases.
You may be asked to provide extra documents or be invited for a personal interview if the officer in charge decides so.
Documents should be issued not later than 6 months before their submission.
All documents issued by foreign authorities have to be legalized / apostilled, translated into the Ukrainian language by a certified translator whose signature has to be duly notarized. All copies of these documents should be notarized.
You can apply for an immigration permit either at an overseas consulate of Ukraine in the country of your residence or at an office of the Immigration Service in Ukraine. It is done only in person. Note that you will be able to pick the immigration permit up when it is ready only at the same place where you applied for it. So, if you are temporarily in some country then it is better not to apply from there.
Once you get all these documents you go and apply for your immigration permit.
Getting an immigration D-01 visa
The D-01 visa is issued for up to 90 calendar days as a multi-visa and you can apply for this D visa no earlier than 3 months before the date of the planned entry to Ukraine.
As of now visas D are not issued inside Ukraine so you should apply to an overseas Ukrainian consulate abroad.
It is issued only for 90 days merely to give you enough time to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit. 90 days are more than enough to get this PRP but still don’t wait for the last time and try to apply for a PRP as soon as possible.
To get this D-01 visa you need to submit the following documents:
passport (shall be issued for less than 10 years + valid for at least 3 months after the declared departure date from Ukraine + have not less than 2 blank pages);
online visa application that you can find on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine by the following link;
one colored photo 35x45 millimeters in size;
medical/travel insurance policy covering Ukraine, COVID and the period of stay in the amount of not less than the equivalent of EUR 30,000.00. You can buy one online from a Ukrainian insurance company Oberig (here). Just fill out a short online form and you will get your insurance to your email in a second. You will get a pleasant discount by entering promocode S17708 in the process;
documents proving sufficient financial resources for living in Ukraine for the time period of visa. How this can be proved is explained in another article of ours here;
bank receipt certifying payment of a consular duty;
copy of an immigration permit issued by the State Migration Service of Ukraine.
All documents issued by foreign authorities have to be legalized / apostilled, translated into the Ukrainian language (if not possible – into the English language) by a certified translator whose signature has to be duly certified (e.g. notarized) as well.
Time for getting a D-type visa is up to 10 business days for USD 65 and up to 5 business days for USD 130.Other amounts of visa fees may apply based on the reciprocity principle used between Ukraine and a relevant country. You can find the visa fee applied to you here.
Note, that if you are a citizen (or resident) of one of 70 defined countries, then you’ll be interviewed at the consulate. The list of these 70 countries is here.
If you are denied a visa, the Ukrainian consulate is obliged by law to notify you in writing on this decision and to explain the reason of rejection. You have a right to appeal the rejection to the same consulate within 2 months starting from the date you were served the rejection notice. We explained how to appeal a visa refusal in our article here.
Getting a Permanent Residence Permit (PRP)
To obtain a PRP you need to collect and submit the following documents:
application of the approved form;
your passport with the D visa;
translation of your passport into Ukrainian;
copy of the immigration permit;
state duty payment receipt.
Once you receive it you apply for a Permanent Residence Permit and that’s all – you are a Ukrainian permanent resident. You can come and leave, stay for as long as you want, change your jobs, be a FOP and enjoy all other benefits you like in Ukraine.
As you can imagine, in real life the whole process is not always as simple and clear as it looks on paper. And you are right, there are some pitfalls along the way indeed! Below we will share our own experience in this process that we have gained from getting permanent residence to a number of our clients.
Proof of expertise
So, it is an immigration program for IT professionals. But how can you prove that you are one of them? Do you need a diploma or do you need relevant experience, or maybe something else? This is going to be the most important but not that straight stage of your application process.
The law does not specify a distinctive list of documents by which you prove your IT relevance. Anything from the below will suffice:
· education diplomas;
· course certificates;
· endorsement and confirmation letters from your previous employers;
· agreements and contracts;
· completion reports;
· anything else.
Make sure that your IT experience can be proved for at least 3 years. There are only a few cases when 2 years are enough.
Not any IT professional is subject to this immigration program. For 2021 they shortlisted 30 IT professions, i.e. Chief programmer, Database programmer, Computer graphics (design) specialist, and so on.
So, if your experience record exactly matches any of these 30 professions from the list, then you are lucky. But of course, the job title at your current work may differ from all those 30 professions on the list. In this case, you should specify the profession from the list which, in your mind, is the most relevant to your experience. It will be checked by the relevant state authorities and they will decide whether you are an eligible candidate or your IT experience is not relevant for this immigration program.
It is also important to note that each profession has its own quota. For example, in 2021 there are only 3 requests for Computer graphics (design) specialists but 3013 requests for Chief programmers. Thus, when you choose the profession to proceed with, try to choose the one that has a bigger number of vacant requests.
Other qualification criteria
In addition to the experience and specialization there are also other criteria. Usually, they are knowledge and skills of some particular software, computer language, diplomas of certain universities and an annual income.
For all our clients it was always much easier to use their annual income for the last calendar year as in our cases it always was higher than the minimum requested amount of USD 24 000.
You need to get and provide a medical statement called 028/o.
One clinic issued such a statement for one of our clients on a blank form that is outdated already. Lucky enough we found out about this and arranged for a new one.
Another common mistake is that this statement is signed by a family doctor or by another medical specialist while the Immigration Services requires it to be signed only by either of 2 doctors: infectious disease doctor or by physiotherapist.
When to apply
Because permanent residence is granted based on quotas for every year there might be a gap between the beginning of a new year and the new quotas being introduced. For example, in 2021 the quotas for 2021 were passed only in March of 2021 and thus you were not able to apply between January and March because there was no quota yet. Also if you apply in the end of November or in December, you may get a preliminary approval from the Ministry of Economics (a so-called pre-check stage) but you might not have enough time to apply for the immigration permit the same year and will have to apply only the next year. In this case you will have to start the pre-check stage again.
So, if you are considering applying in 2022, then you should first wait for the quotas for 2022 to be introduced and apply thereafter accordingly.
Contact Legal Ideas law firm to get advice on your personal case.