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Supporting your employees who need to urgently relocate

A guide to which countries are open to Ukrainian nationals.
March 16, 2022
Oyster Team
Supporting your employees who need to urgently relocate

Note: We’re actively monitoring the situation and will be updating this resource as needed. 

Because of the devastating situation that continues to threaten the safety of employees in Ukraine and Russia, People leaders everywhere are finding themselves faced with a situation they likely haven’t been in before. 

If you’re looking for answers when it comes to how to support your employees’ relocation efforts, we put together this guide to help you understand which countries are currently open to Ukrainian nationals and the visa process involved for each.

What’s the current situation for Ukrainian nationals? 

Right now, the major issues preventing Ukrainians from relocating is that there is martial law, all commercial flights are canceled, and many roads are still jammed packed. Men aged 18-60 cannot currently leave Ukraine. 

Visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Ukraine. As of January 22, 2022, Ukrainian citizens could travel to 141 countries and territories without a travel visa or with a visa on arrival, ranking the Ukrainian passport 35th in terms of travel freedom, according to the Henley Passport Index 2022.

What countries can Ukrainian nationals relocate to? 

Bulgaria

Currently, Bulgaria is open for Ukrainians, and they don’t need to apply for visas. In Bulgaria, Ukrainians will receive refugee status and are assigned with local ID number with which they can be employed. The EU is preparing to grant a blanket right to Ukrainians who flee the war, allowing them to stay and work for up to three years.

Germany

Ukrainian citizens can enter Germany for 90 days (within a period of 180 days) without a visa. However, this only applies if they have a biometric passport, which—according to press reports—less than 50% of Ukrainian citizens have. If no biometric passport is available, a visa must be applied for in advance and presented for entry. However, a member state may allow exceptions for entry into its territory for humanitarian reasons. 

Hungary

Employees relocating to Hungary would first need to obtain a “white card.” To get a white card in Hungary, Ukrainians need to have their passport. Anyone fleeing from Ukraine will be allowed to enter Hungary, with or without a passport, but if somebody arrives without one, they’ll be taken to a refugee camp and have to go through the refugee process. The white card process takes about 21 days, however, a person can work during this period.

Latvia

As of February 24th, the Government of Latvia approved a contingency plan to receive and accommodate approximately 10,000 refugees from Ukraine.

Moldova

Moldova is open for Ukrainians and they do not need to apply for visas. Ukrainians entering Moldova will receive refugee status, are assigned with a local ID number, and can be employed. The EU is preparing to grant a blanket right to Ukrainians who flee the war, allowing them to stay and work for up to three years.

Poland

Ukrainians who legally crossed the border to Poland on February 24th or after and declared, or will declare, that they intend to stay in Poland, will be treated as legal for 18 months. 

Those Ukrainians, as well as any Ukrainians who entered Poland before February 24th who are legally staying in Poland, can be employed for the duration of their stay without any additional work permits—as long as their employer notifies labor inspection within 14 days of employment commencing. The notification should be made online through the form which will be available on this portal.

The aforementioned Ukrainians can register and carry out business activity in Poland (including acting as a self-employed sole proprietorship) under the condition that they will obtain PESEL number.

Portugal

Portugal announced the introduction of special measures to help Ukrainian citizens and their family members to move to Portugal and apply for asylum status right away, from the airport of entry, regardless of their country of origin. Rules of asylum requiring the person to claim it in the first country they arrive in have been waived, so they do not need to come directly from Ukraine. 

Upon their arrival, the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF—Foreigners and Borders Service) will carry out an internal security control to verify their status and approve their asylum application and assign a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) or Tax Identification Number along with a Social Security Number. 

Ukrainians can apply for asylum status at the port of entry, at the border control, or before the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras. The permit is valid for one year, with the possibility of an extension for six additional months.

Cyprus 

It’s possible for employers to register for a “fast track mechanism" in Cyprus, which is a program enabling employers to obtain visas rapidly for employees there. With it, you’re able to hire foreign employees under the Cyprus establishment and obtain a residence and employment visa for them. 

With the new rules, there are no requirements for the employees, as long as their monthly salary is €2,500. There is some paperwork involved, including obtaining some papers from originating country authorities which might be difficult at this time for Ukrainians. 

The alternative option for Ukrainians relocating is Cyprus is the digital nomad visa

Czech Republic

If an employee wants to relocate to the Czech Republic, they must first have secured accommodation, then ask foreign police for a stamp on their passport. After securing a job, they must bring the employment contract to the labor office and apply for a work permit. Once the permit is approved, they can start work.

It typically takes about 30-60 days to obtain a work and residence permit in the Czech Republic, but it’s anticipated that this process will be faster given the current situation.

Italy

Italy is allowing Ukrainians to enter for 90 days on their passport, but this does not allow them to work freely. They would still require a standard work permit for non-EU nationals.

The Netherlands

Normally, when applying for a work permit in The Netherlands, someone from Ukraine needs a D-type visa (short stay). This visa can be arranged at the local consulates in their home country. These are now closed for these applications due to the situation, meaning that route is not an option. 

The immigration offices in The Netherlands have not (yet) announced a formal exception for people from Ukraine due to the current situation. At this time, to apply for a work permit Ukrainians would need to obtain a short-stay visa. 

Slovakia 

Like Poland, Slovakia has waived any visas for Ukrainians. Ukrainians relocating to Slovakia will just need to go through the borders—everything else regarding document flow can be done there. 

Croatia

Until further notice, Ukrainians relocating to Croatia don't need a working permit or permit.

In addition to the countries listed above, Serbia and Romania are also open to Ukrainians. 

What’s the current situation for Russian nationals? 

Russians and Belarusians are not considered refugees at this time. Because of this, employees in Russia and Belarus don’t have countries opening their borders to them. If an employee wants to relocate from Russia or Belarus, the process remains the same as usual. Some Russians have requested to relocate to Armenia since they would not need a visa to live both in Armenia and Georgia for the time being. We recommend taking a look at this blog post for more ways to support your affected team members. 

Staying informed 

With so much changing every day, staying informed will help you provide the best support you can to your team members in affected areas. When your employees are navigating a rapidly evolving and potentially dangerous situation, it’s important to make it clear that their safety and personal wellbeing are the top priorities—and you can work together to figure out the rest. 

For more on how you can support your team members who have been affected by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, take a look at this resource

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