Immigration and Mobility Resources for Ukrainian Citizens

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Due to military mobilization in Ukraine announced by President Zelenskyy on the night of February 24, men aged 18 – 60 that are Ukrainian citizens are no longer allowed to leave the country, and it is therefore expected that the Border Guards will not allow their exit. According to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, this restriction will last during the period of Martial Law. However, there are currently no known legal obstacles for women and children to leave the country.

We are currently tracking developments regarding immigration, visa, and/or refugee resources and concessions in a number of relevant countries and set out pertinent information below:

Ukraine Immigration and Mobility Resources [1]:

  • Austria: Regarding the entry from Ukraine and the work of Ukrainians in Austria, there are no new regulations in force yet that take the special situation into account. Therefore, the following rules still apply:
    • Entry to Austria: Citizens of Ukraine still need a visa or a residence permit in addition to a valid (international) passport to enter Austria. Regardless of these requirements, at present no Ukrainian citizen will be prevented from entering Austria if he or she does not have a visa or residence permit and is fleeing the acts of war.
    • Work in Austria: Ukrainian citizens require a work permit for self-employment or employment in Austria.
  • Germany: Ukrainians can travel to Germany—and the Schengen zone in general—without a visa, but as of now they cannot apply for a work permit yet.
  • Hungary: The Hungarian government officially declared Ukrainians as eligible for temporary protection. Ukrainians can enter Hungary and travel to Hungary without a visa, however – unlike other refugees – they are not required to give notice of intention to submit an application for refugee status.
  • The Netherlands: The IND (Dutch Immigration office) has confirmed it is still currently possible to apply for any type of visa for the Netherlands.
    • The current information that IND provides is as follows, and it seems that more information will come soon: Due to the situation in Ukraine, it is possible that you will stay longer in the Netherlands than the visa-exempt term or short stay visa allows. This does not have adverse effects on Ukrainians. Soon you will read on this page what you can do in these situations.
    • Please click here to follow the link to above-mentioned website from the Dutch government.
  • Poland [2]: Entry to Poland on the basis of a biometric passport under the visa-free regime is permissible as before. In the absence of appropriate documents, such as biometric passport, Polish Border Guard should allow evacuation on the basis of other documents confirming identity of the individual, in particular: non-biometric passport without visa, internal passport, or in case of children, birth certificates.
    • Poland has prepared reception points at the Polish-Ukrainian border passing points where medical assistance, food and information will be provided (Dorohusk, Dołhobyczów, Zosin, Hrebenne in the Lublin voivodship; Korczowa, Medyka, Budomierz, Krościenko in the Subcarpathian voivodeship and an additional point to be created in Przemyśl at the railway station)
    • When in Poland, it is possible to quickly legalize work of Ukrainian citizens by registering a statement of entrusting work in labour office – this procedure is available for employers with seat registered in Poland, though.
    • Companies in Poland can start offering assistance immediately as Ukrainians do not need a visa to work there.
  • Portugal: The Portuguese Prime Minister has already given several instructions to the embassies in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to make it easier to grant visas for those who want to come to Portugal.
    • The Ukrainian Consular Section in Portugal has confirmed today that Ukrainian citizens will be able to enter Portugal without a visa and deal with their legalisation here in Portugal, at the SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service).
    • For Ukrainian citizens who are already in Portugal under a Schengen visa/Schengen visa exemption within biometric passport, there is an agreement in the sense that they will have full support of the Portuguese Government and will be able to stay in Portugal during this conflict period. These citizens will have to regularise their situation with SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service) , by applying for a residence visa, but the process will take a place in Portugal, not being necessary to leave the country to proceed with the application (as it generally is).
  • Spain: Spaniards currently in Ukraine are advised to temporarily leave the country as soon as possible. As of today, Ukrainian citizens with a valid biometric passport may enter Spain by their own means and without the need for visa procedures, as long as they meet the health requirements in force at the date of travel.
  • Switzerland: The Swiss Embassy is currently open, but is limited to dealing with urgent cases, such as assistance to Swiss nationals in Ukraine.
    • Ukraine nationals can enter Switzerland visa-free for a short time of not more than 90 days within a 180-day period provided that they are holder of a valid biometric passport (i.e. not older than 10 years and valid for at least three months after the planned departure from Switzerland).
    • For work purposes, generally the cantonal pre-agreement will need to be granted prior to a visa application. As this pre-agreement process takes a couple of weeks to months, it is not foreseeable now how the visa process will be handled afterwards (as usually a physical appointment would be required at the embassy in Kiev).
  • United Kingdom: The UK government has announced a temporary waiver on visa fees for non-British family members and partners of UK citizens in Ukraine, and a relaxing of criteria. But in general, Ukrainians still need a standard visitor visa (or other visa) before entering the UK, even for a short trip.
    • Here is a link to the UK government’s guidance in relation to support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine and the UK. This webpage also states that the UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Kyiv is now closed and all UK visa services in Kyiv are suspended. It currently advises that family members of British nationals who usually live in Ukraine and who need a UK visa can apply through the temporary Lemberg Business Centre in Lviv to give biometrics, or through a VAC in a nearby country (Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova) if this can be travelled to safely.
    • The Foreign Office page is regularly updated and contains advice for British nationals in Ukraine. It currently states that the British Embassy in Kyiv has temporary relocated and embassy staff are operating from the British Embassy office in Lviv.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

[1] Note the situation and this guidance is fluid and is subject to rapid change.

[2] The government has published information about Ukrainians seeking refuge in Poland. The Polish land border with Ukraine is reportedly still open.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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