After the entry into force of the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons Who Have Participated in Protecting the Territorial Integrity and Immunity of Ukraine”, the Laws of Ukraine “On Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons” and “On citizenship of Ukraine have undergone some changes.

What does the Law provide for?

From now on, foreigners and stateless persons who provided assistance in the territory of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) can obtain a temporary residence permit and, even, citizenship of Ukraine.

How can a foreigner obtain a temporary residence permit on the basis of participation in the protection of Ukraine’s territorial integrity?

To begin with, it is necessary to determine what is considered as “assistance”. The law specifies that this term includes any instructor assistance, that is, rifle, tactical, medical, radio, explosive and other assistance. The right to apply for a temporary residence permit is grander to foreigners and stateless persons who have assisted the:

  • units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military units, special-purpose law enforcement bodies, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, involved in conducting the ATO, directly in the areas of its conducting, or involved in the implementation of measures to ensure national security and defense, and deterrence the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Donetsk and Lugansk regions;
  • or voluntarily formed units or self-organized to protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and, in cooperation with the above-mentioned units, directly participated in the ATO, and who participated in the combat or service tasks of the ATO and / or activities to ensure national security and defense, deterrence the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Donetsk and Lugansk regions together with the above-mentioned units and voluntarily formed units.

Aсcording to a general rule, in order to apply for a temporary residence permit, a foreigner must legally stay in Ukraine. However, persons who participate in the ATO often exceed the duration of stay in Ukraine. That is why the Law stipulates that these foreigners are considered to be residing legally in Ukraine from the date of applying for a temporary residence permit and until the date of its obtaining.

The Law also prohibits the forced return of said foreigners to a country of origin or a third country that has committed an act of aggression against Ukraine, or to a country that does not recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine or refuses to recognize the illegality of encroachment on territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

The temporary residence permit for such categories of foreigners is issued for 3 years.

In order to obtain a temporary residence permit on this legal ground, the foreigner shall submit:

  1. Passport document. A foreigner has the right to submit a passport which has expired or has to be exchanged if, in order to obtain a new document, the foreigner is required to apply to the country of citizenship or permanent residence, if such country has committed an act of aggression against Ukraine or does not recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, or refuses to recognize the illegality of encroachments on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine;
  2. translation into Ukrainian of the passport document;
  3. health insurance policy;
  4. a document confirming payment of the administrative fee;
  5. and one of the following documents:
  • request of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, another state body responsible for the military units, or a law enforcement agency or a special-purpose law enforcement bodies that performed the tasks of the ATO, carrying out measures to ensure national security and defense, deterrence the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Lugansk and Donetsk regions; or
  • petition of the commander of the unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military formations, law enforcement agencies, special-purpose law enforcement bodies, performing the tasks of the ATO, carrying out measures to ensure national security and defense, deterrence the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Lugansk and Donetsk regions; or
  • the court’s decision to establish the fact of the foreigner’s belonging to the persons who participated in the protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The court decision is only submitted when the foreigner has received a written refusal to receive the abovementioned request or petition.

In order to confirm the status of a person who participated in the defense of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a foreigner must have a military ticket and signed contract for military service in the Armed Forces in accordance with the law.

The foreigner must apply for a temporary residence permit within 6 months from the day the Law enters into force (from August 25, 2019).

Admission to the citizenship of Ukraine on the basis of participation in the protection of Ukraine`s territorial integrity

Foreigners who have participated in the protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine have the right to obtain Ukrainian citizenship under a simplified procedure.

According to a general rule, in order to be admitted to Ukrainian citizenship, a foreigner must comply with certain conditions stipulated by law. However, the abovementioned categories of foreigners are not subject to certain conditions for admission to Ukrainian citizenship. In particular, the following conditions shall not apply:

  • continuous residence in Ukraine for 5 years;
  • obtaining an immigration permit to Ukraine before applying for citizenship;
  • proficiency in the Ukrainian language to the extent sufficient for communication;
  • the availability of legitimate sources of existence.

However, an important prerequisite for applying for Ukrainian citizenship is obtaining a temporary residence permit on the basis of the participation of the protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

We also note that when applying for citizenship of Ukraine, such categories of foreigners submit a declaration renouncing foreign citizenship. This provision of the law effectively allows foreigners to retain two citizenships since foreigners are not required to provide confirmation of the termination of their foreign citizenship. Therefore, a foreigner may legitimately have the citizenship of Ukraine and the citizenship (or citizenships) of a foreign state.

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