Updated: Mar 11, 2021
A very quick search on the Internet shows there are 3 most popular ways to obtain Ukrainian residence:
1) based on registration of a company and becoming its director;
2) based on volunteering;
3) based on a work permit.
The first option is more expensive and so there are many people offering foreigners volunteer permits and work permits as an option to stay in Ukraine for a long period of time.
These options are relatively cheap because a foreigner doesn’t need to register a volunteering organisation or company and manage it. All you need is simply to pay a modest fee (usually a few hundreds of USD) to these “facilitators” who promise to arrange for such permits and residence.
There is only one problem with these options the facilitators do not mention – these options are illegal and will result in serious problems.
One may wonder why a volunteering permit is fake if a real non-government organization (aka “NGO”) did issue an invitation letter and based on those documents the State Migration Service did granted a temporary residence permit. All documents were real. Why fake?
Well, there is, indeed, an absolutely legitimate option of obtaining Ukrainian temporary residence by arriving to Ukraine on invitation from an NGO for carrying out volunteering. It is a good option when a real NGO carrying out real volunteering invites a foreigner for real volunteering. But this is not what is sold to residence seekers.
In most of the cases a foreigner is offered the following:
some NGO invites him. This NGO does exist. But it is unknown what volunteering it carries out and how many other foreign volunteers it invited already;
a foreigner does obtain a temporary residence permit but does not do any or real volunteering.
Not any good deed is volunteering from the legal point of view. There is a special law in Ukraine called the Law of Ukraine On Volunteering that defines how volunteering should be carried out, documented, reported, etc.
Imagine, a foreigner who bought this “volunteering” residence is already number 100 foreign volunteer in his NGO and he does not have any documented proof of volunteering in Ukraine.
When a law enforcement officer finds this out he will react accordingly. One example of this is reported on February 02, 2020 on the official website of the State Migration Service of Ukraine (https://dmsu.gov.ua/news/region/6722.html) when 3 citizens of India were fined and returned from Ukraine after arriving to on an invitation from an NGO. In this case, however, the NGO didn’t even arrange for residence permits for these Indian citizens.
Fake work permit.
The situation with work permits is basically similar to the one with volunteering.
When a foreigner obtains a work permit from a company he is not aware of and without a real intention of performing real work for this company, it is a high chance that this work permit will be cancelled, the relevant temporary residence permit will be cancelled as well, the foreigner will be fined, expelled from Ukraine and, maybe, even banned from entering Ukraine in future.
Now let’s do a quick calculation.
As of now, any employer is obliged to pay every month on behalf of every its employee:
UAH 3802.02 at least as this is the minimum salary amount defined by law in Ukraine;
UAH 1039.06 of the single social contribution;
UAH 850.14 of the income tax;
UAH 70.84 of the war duty.
The total pay-out is UAH 5 762.06. This is the minimum monthly expense for an employer for retaining an employee. Now multiply this sum 10 times because Ukrainian law obliges domestic employers to pay foreign employees not less than 10 minimum salaries. There are only a few cases when an employer can pay 1 minimum salary to a foreigner.
It is obvious that buying 1-year residence through a work permit can’t be cheaper than UAH 691 447.20 in most of the cases but not less than UAH 69 144.72. In USD these are approximately $23,000 and $2,300 respectively. And still these sums are just the cost price, they do not include any profit for the “employer”.
Numbers never lie. If you are offered a work permit for the purpose of residence it is probably a scam, if it costs less than the numbers below then no doubt it is a scam.
Are you protected?
There is a misconception among foreign community in Ukraine that citizens of the USA, EU, Canada and other developed countries are safe from being expelled and banned because Ukraine want them to stay here and spend their money in Ukraine. This belief is totally wrong!
For example, on the official websites of the State Migration Service of Ukraine and the Police you can find many such stories, to name a few:
5 citizens of EU were banned from entering Ukraine for the next 3 years only for violation of the traffic rules and not paying the imposed fine (https://dmsu.gov.ua/news/region/6982.html).
2 citizens of the US and Canada were fined and compulsory returned from Ukraine for overstaying their visa-free 90 days (https://dmsu.gov.ua/news/region/6947.html).
over 200 foreigners bought fake work permits from one company and face deportation (https://www.npu.gov.ua/ua/news/Informacziya/naczpolicziya-vikrila-sxemu-nezakonnoji-legalizacziji-inozemcziv-na-teritoriji-ukrajini/)
In general, according to the official data of the State Migration Service of Ukraine for 2019 (https://dmsu.gov.ua/assets/files/statistic/year/2019_12.pdf) there were:
12 864 illegal immigrants detected;
3 671 foreigners were banned from entering Ukraine;
477 foreigners were expelled from Ukraine;
33 622 cases of immigration legislation violations.
Law is not a secret. It is public domain. One can try to undergo all immigration procedures himself or to hire an immigration lawyer. Whichever option is chosen it is always the foreigner who bears full legal liability. Immigration matters are strictly supervised by the State Immigration Service, State Border Service, Police, State Security Service with involvement of some other state agencies. It is a bad practice to play around with all of them. It is better not to immigrate rather then to do this illegal way.