Over the last couple of years Ukraine has become one of the major players in the global IT-industry and home for various startups as well as leading tech experts. This has encouraged the Ukrainian government to adjust its policy in order to attract even more highly professional IT-specialists. In particular, on 11 March 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine passed Resolution No. 431-p “On Establishing an Immigration Quota for 2020” stipulating that within the established quota, Ukrainian IT companies can virtually permanently employ additional 5,000 highly qualified IT-specialists. Such involved workers can receive a permanent residence permit, which will allow them to permanently live and work in Ukraine without a work permit.
Recently, the Ukrainian government has gone further and simplified the requirements for immigration of foreign IT professionals. On 21 September 2020, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine amended Order No. 283 dated 19 February 2020 (the “Order”), which simplifies the immigration procedure for foreign specialists. Please find below an overview of the respective amendments in the legislation.
1. The list of occupations subject to simplified immigration rules has been expanded
Considering the diversity of careers in the IT-industry, the amended Order has expanded the list of IT professions to 23, compared to 10 that were included in the previous version of the Order. Such an amendment will enable the Ukrainian IT companies to attract even more IT professionals who can now obtain an immigration permit.
2. Establishment of mandatory and additional qualification requirements
One of the obstacles that challenged the practical aspects of the IT professionals’ immigration to Ukraine was the requirement of a specialized higher education and confirmation of work experience in the IT sector. At the same time, many foreign IT specialists are self-educated and have significant experience in the field without a specialized higher education degree.
The amendments provide for a combination of mandatory and additional requirements, which will help to mitigate the above issue. At that, the mandatory requirement of confirmed work experience shall be supplemented with at least one additional requirement, such as:
A specialized higher education degree, or
An income in the field in the amount equivalent to USD 24,000 or more for the previous calendar year, or
Internationally-recognized certificates in the IT sphere.
3. Reduced work experience requirements
The previous version of the Order set the requirement of confirmed work experience of at least 7 years. However, in the Ukrainian labour market there is a high demand for foreign IT-specialists with professional experience of at least 3 years, who are also considered to be highly qualified professionals. So, the need for reducing the minimum requirements in regards to work experience was sufficiently justified.
4. Establishment of a non-exhaustive list of documents that can confirm work experience
Previously, the Order set the requirement of confirmed work experience in the IT industry without elaborating on mandatory details and specifications of confirming documents. With the adoption of the amendments, the Order now stipulates that work experience can be proved by one or several of the following documents:
Employment records book or another equivalent document;
Recommendation letters that confirm the provision of IT services;
IT services agreements;
IT services acceptance acts;
Other documents issued in the worker’s country of residence that confirm their relevant work experience.
The possibility to provide other confirming documents addresses the problem of different employment regulations and practices in foreign jurisdictions or when the IT specialist is self-employed. However, immigration authorities still have to develop certain positive practice of acceptance of such “other documents confirming relevant work experience” when considering immigration cases.
5. Quotas for categories of professions
Another novelty is that the occupational qualification requirements have been grouped in accordance with the categories of occupations (managers; directors; information security specialists; software developers; analysts; computer specialists; information and software processing operators) and not for every single occupation as it used to be previously. Accordingly, the amended Order sets quotas for the categories of occupations, with each category including from 1 to 7 occupations. This removes quota restrictions for specific occupations as within each category the number of IT professionals is distributed based on the demand for such specialists.
The introduced amendments generally improve the conditions and requirements for IT professionals striving to work in Ukraine. Nevertheless, there are still issues that need to be addressed by the government in order to establish an effective immigration procedure for IT professionals. These include, for instance, the need for shorter timelines for the verification of documents of foreign specialists, or online disclosure of up-to-date information on granted permits within respective quotas and submitted applications, or a possibility of an electronic submission of documents for immigration.
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