Appeal to the prime minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal about the need to extend the period of visa-free stay in Ukraine for foreign volunteers

October 5, 2022

April 29, 2022 

On behalf of civil society organizations, representatives of non-profit public associations and charitable organizations, we hereby present our compliments to you and address you on the following.

With the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, many foreigners who were already in Ukraine under visa-free regime joined public associations and charitable organizations as volunteers to help Ukrainians resist Russian aggression and overcome its consequences.

Also, since February 24, 2022, foreigners have been coming to Ukraine to provide volunteer assistance.

Most of them are citizens of countries whose governments and societies provide significant financial, humanitarian and other assistance to Ukraine to counter Russian aggression and overcome its consequences.

According to the conditions of the visa-free regime, foreign volunteers can stay legally on the territory of Ukraine for 90 days within 180 day-period, after which they must leave Ukraine.

If they wish to continue volunteering in Ukraine, they must apply to Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad for a D10 visa.

Today, there is an exception only for the citizens of the Republic of Belarus, who can stay in Ukraine for 180 days within 365 day-period, regardless of their volunteer activities.

At the same time, foreigners who apply to Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad for a D10 volunteer visa report that they are unable to obtain this service.

Ukrainian diplomats explain that due to the martial law and hostilities in Ukraine, the technological chains of issuing visas to foreigners have been disrupted, as was the work of the visa information system that allows entering information about the applicant and starting the visa procedure.

Thus, at present, long-term (more than 90 days) and legal stay of foreign volunteers on the territory of Ukraine is impossible, and the dates of the resumption of work on issuing visas is unknown.

Due to the impossibility of obtaining visa, foreign volunteers who are outside Ukraine and whose 90-day visa-free stay has expired cannot enter the territory of Ukraine.

Foreign volunteers whose visa-free stay is coming to an end or whose term has already expired, but they are still on the territory of Ukraine and wish to carry out volunteer activities are faced with a choice:

  1. a) Leave Ukraine, wait for 180 days and/or visa service resumption by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine;
  2. b) Stay in Ukraine and volunteer in violation of migration laws.

At the same time, the impossibility of crossing the state border limits their activities in providing assistance:

move humanitarian goods, vehicles, participate in the evacuation of Ukrainians abroad, etc.

Another challenge in the issuance of visas is the extreme burden on Ukrainian diplomatic missions due to the huge number of appeals from Ukrainians who have been evacuated and apply for consular services.

This workload makes it much more difficult and time-consuming, if not impossible, for foreign volunteers to obtain visas.

At the same time, the need for their assistance under martial law is urgent.

Therefore, in pursuance of the National Strategy for Civil Society Development in Ukraine for 2021 – 2026, one of the strategic objectives of which is to promote volunteer activities, in pursuance of the Law of Ukraine “On Volunteer Activities”, regarding the assistance to public associations and charitable organizations in their activities aimed at developing volunteer activities, to enable foreigners and stateless persons to perform volunteer activities and stay in the territory of Ukraine on legal grounds, we are hereby asking you to consider a decision to extend, for the duration of martial law, the period of visa-free stay in the territory of Ukraine for volunteers of public associations and charitable organizations up to 180 days within 365 days.

Appendix:

Draft Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine “Certain issues pertaining to the stay in Ukraine of foreigners or stateless persons who arrived in Ukraine for the purpose of participation in international and regional volunteer programs or participation in the activities of organizations and institutions that engage volunteers in their activities in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Volunteer Activity” developed by the representatives of civil society organizations

 

DRAFT

CABINET OF MINISTERS OF UKRAINE

RESOLUTION

dated 2022 No.

Kyiv

Certain issues pertaining to the stay in Ukraine of foreigners or stateless persons who arrived in Ukraine for the purpose of participation in international and regional volunteer programs or participation in the activities of organizations and institutions that engage volunteers in their activities in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Volunteer Activity”

In accordance with Articles 8 and 20 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law”, the Decree of the President of Ukraine dated February 24, 2022

No. 64 “On the Imposition of Martial Law in Ukraine”, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine hereby resolves as follows:

  1. Establish that:

Temporarily, for the period until the termination or abolition of martial law, the restrictions on the periods of temporary stay, established by subclause 2 of clause 2 of the Procedure for extending the period of stay and extending or reducing the period of temporary stay of foreigners and stateless persons on the territory of Ukraine, approved by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated February 15, 2012 No. 150 (Official Gazette of Ukraine, 2012, No. 17, Art. 612; 2015, No. 28, Art. 805) shall not apply to foreigners and stateless persons who arrived in Ukraine for the purpose of participating in international and regional volunteer programs or participating in the activities of organizations and institutions that engage volunteers in their activities in accordance with the Law of Ukraine  “On Volunteer Activity”;

Foreigners or stateless persons who arrived in Ukraine for the purpose of participating in international and regional volunteer programs or participating in the activities of organizations and institutions that engage volunteers in their activities in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Volunteer Activity”, who arrived in Ukraine on a legal basis during the period of martial law, or were on the territory of Ukraine at the time of the imposition of martial law, may temporarily stay on its territory for no more than 180 days within 365 days. The procedure for calculating the specified term shall be established by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

  1. This Resolution does not apply to foreigners who are the citizens of the Russian Federation.
  2. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Administration of the State Border Service and the State Migration Service shall bring their own regulatory legal acts into compliance with this resolution within a week.

Prime Minister of Ukraine                                                                           D. SHMYHAL 

PLEASE JOIN THE APPEAL BY SIGNING IT VIA THE SIGNATURE FORM.

SUPPORTED BY:

  1. Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law
  2. Vostok SOS Charitable Foundation
  3. Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research
  4. Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”
  5. Reanimation Package of Reforms
  6. Human Rights Center ZMINA
  7. Institute of Legislative Ideas
  8. Center for Civil Liberties
  9. Steps to the Future NGO
  10. NGO “Rural Development Promotion”
  11. Caritas Ukraine International Charitable Foundation
  12. Unity of Virtues NGO
  13. NGO Center “Women’s Perspectives”
  14. NGO “Center for Social Assistance “The Road of Good”
  15. Ridnya Community Foundation
  16. NGO Vinnytsia City Organization for Social Development and Growth of Certain Vulnerable Categories of Youth Parostok (Sprout)
  17. NGO Reni District Organization “Our Heritage”
  18. All-Ukrainian Public Center “Volunteer”
  19. NGO “Against Corruption”
  20. NGO Institute for the Development of the Regional Press
  21. NGO United Veterans Movement “Interaction”
  22. NGO Association of IDPs of Donbas “DOBROTVOR”
  23. Stabilization Support Services Charitable Foundation
  24. Kirovohrad Regional Organization of the All-Ukrainian NGO “Association for the Promotion of Self-Organization of the Population”
  25. Charitable Organization “Charitable Foundation Warm City”
  26. International Development Foundation
  27. Future Development Agency
  28. Khmelnytskyi Regional Society of the All-Ukrainian Organization of People With Disabilities “Union of Organizations of the People With Disabilities of Ukraine”
  29. La Strada-Ukraine NGO
  30. All-Ukrainian Association “Vinnychanka” NGO
  31. CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES
  32. European Law Development Network
  33. POLTAVA REGION COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION NGO