Armenian Government approved the Plan for the Introduction of Electronic System of Work Permit Granting and Registration of Employment Contracts with Foreign Employees on April 30, 2020. This is good news for local employers that keep foreign staff or plan to contract migrant employees, since the approved Plan aims to facilitate the procedure for granting work permits by way of substituting existing bureaucratic chains by electronic system operating under single window.A successful implementation of the Plan requires introduction of the changes into the legislation currently in force and several technical solutions and according to provisional forecasts the new procedure might be enforceable no sooner than early 2021.
According to the current legislation, a foreigner working under a work permit is entitled to reside in Armenia as long as residence permit or visitor’s visa is valid. Short-term employees may work in the country during the effective period of visitor’s visa that was received before arriving to the country; while long-term employees have to apply for the residence permit based on the work permit granted by the Employment Agency of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (Employment Agency).
The anticipated changes to the law imply introduction of a new visa type, labor visa (A-Visa), which will constitute a part of work permit acquisition process. At this point, there is a lack of clear understanding of what exact procedure migrant workers will have to pass through, to get the right to work in Armenia, but it is likely that A-visa will be allowing foreigners to lawfully enter Armenia in order to commence the second round of work permit acquisition process. At the same time, that will enable national security bodies to start the checks of the foreigner during the process of evaluation of A-Visa application. The proposed legislative changes would enable foreigners to stay in the country during the period of validity of work permit (that cannot exceed 1 year) without further need to apply for the residence permit.
Armenian Government plans to develop a new electronic system to maintain the registrar of unemployed citizens of Armenia that will be operated by the Migration Service of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia (Migration Service).The Plan provides that decision-making function with respect to granting work permit will pass to the Migration Service, whilst currently an authority of providing the work permits is delegated to the Employment Agency.
Anticipated procedural changes
Conceptually, the steps to be taken for acquisition of a lawful right to work and reside in Armenia are as follows:
The employer wishing to contract a foreigner submits an application including the job description of the vacant position in electronic system.
E-system conducts an automatic search of local unemployed individuals(Armenian nationals) by comparing the job description provided by the employer with the data on local candidates looking for a job and:
- Where no data on local candidates looking for the same job exists, the Employment Agency authorizes the employment contract with the foreigner.
- Where e-system detects the local candidate that meets the job description requirements, the employer will have to consider the opportunity of filling the vacancy by a local candidate. If in the period prescribed by the law no employment contract with the local candidate is signed, the Employment Agency authorizes employment contract with the foreigner.
Employer submits the data on the foreign candidate together with necessary documents in the electronic system.
The electronic system transfers the data on the foreign candidate to the National Security Service and Police to commence relevant checks.
Should an outcome of the above checks be positive, Migration Service issues an electronic document that confirms the possibility of granting work permit to the foreigner.
The foreign candidate submits A-Visa request to the Armenian consulate together with e-document evidencing eligibility for work permit within the timeline specified in such e-document. A-Visas will be granted only by the Armenian consulate operating abroad.
The employer signs the employment contract with the foreigner once he/she arrives in Armenia. Thereafter, employee applies to the Migration Service by submitting employment contract together with other required documents and Migration Service grants work permit effective up to one year.
Rules for specific categories of foreigners
Foreigners included in the list of work permit exemptions (including but not limited to the citizens of EAEU member states) are planned to be allowed to reside and work in the country even after the expiry of their visitor’s visas or period of permitted non-visa stay, provided that their employment contracts are recorded into the electronic system operated by the Migration Service.