What is the change? A new immigration law set to take effect July 15 will impact the hiring of foreign nationals in Belarus.

What does the change mean? The law clarifies criteria and procedures, including the definition of “highly qualified employees.” It clarifies exemptions, restricts renewals of work permits, adds new employer obligations and expands the grounds for authorities to refuse or cancel work permits.

  • Implementation time frame: July 15.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits (“Special Work Permits”).
  • Who is affected: Belarus employers hiring and employing foreign workers.
  • Business impact: While allowing some exemptions, the law tightens rules and expands the power of migration and labor authorities over work permits.

Background: Foreign employees working in Belarus are required to obtain a Special Work Permit. Companies employing more than 10 foreign workers must obtain a separate permit to hire foreign workers. Amendments to the immigration laws include the following changes:

  • Highly qualified employees. “Highly qualified employees” must have a university degree, at least five years of professional experience, and earn 15 times the national minimum wage (approximately US$1,750 per month).
  • Highly qualified employees and company directors who have participated in establishing a company will not be included in the calculation of 10 foreign employees for purposes of the employer’s permit to engage foreign labor. Founding company directors are exempt from having to obtain labor-market testing approval by the employment office. Also, foreign students at Belarus universities are exempt from Special Work Permits for the full period of their studies and within one year after graduation, provided that they are employed in the field of their degree.
  • New employer and employee obligations. Employers must obtain Special Work Permits for all foreign nationals who are not permanent residents and who register employment contracts (and any amendments and supplements) within one month upon their completion. If a permit expires or the contract was canceled or unsigned, the employers must return the permit to the immigration office within five business days. Foreign employees must contribute to the Belarus social insurance system, and foreigners intending to work for several employers must obtain permits for each employer.
  • One renewal. Special Work Permits, initially valid for one year, can only be renewed one time for an additional one-year duration. Thereafter, the foreign worker must apply for a new Special Work Permit. The same limits are placed on the employer’s permit to engage foreign workers.
  • Refusal or revocation. Special Work Permits may be denied or canceled based on several new grounds, including (among others) five or more administrative violations in one year or where the employer fails to comply with rules on external labor migration.

BAL Analysis: Belarus employers should expect stricter rules on hiring and retaining foreign workers, as the country seeks to stem high local unemployment.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Belarus. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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