Adoption of Migration Code facilitates legislation in this sphere
(The article was published in the number of the newspaper “Respublika” from August 4, 2013)
Our interviewee is Chief of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan, III rank state migration service counselor Firudin Nabiyev.
Mr. Nabiyev, I would like to start our conversation with clarification of the reason for drafting such a document which is very important for our state. Where does the necessity for adoption of the Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan arise from?
As the time passes we perceive more clearly the scale of Great Leader Heydar Aliyev’s historic services before his people and state. During the leadership of National Leader Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan successful development was attained in socio-political, social, economic, scientific, cultural spheres and international arena. As a result of determination and intensive activity in 1994 cease-fire was proclaimed, “The Contract of the Century” was signed, in 1995 our Constitution was adopted, ancient Silk Route connecting the East and the West was restored and other significant projects were realized. We would like to specially emphasize that increase in the amount of foreign investments made in the country economy, realization of infrastructural and business projects in various fields accelerated the flow of labour migrants in the country. Special attention of the genius personality to migration sphere in the process of society and state building allowed to direct these processes in Azerbaijan towards development of our independent state.
Today successful continuation of comprehensive development path determined by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev and leading our people to a brighter future by President Ilham Aliyev has ensured sustainable and rapid development in the country. Rapid development and building works observed in our country, realization of international and regional projects in energy and transportation spheres, socio-political and economic stability have resulted in growth of the number of persons migrating to the Republic of Azerbaijan from different parts of the world, thus migration processes assumed dynamic character. Improvement of state policy in migration sphere, development of migration management system, as well as migration processes regulation and forecasting became an objective necessity as result of aforementioned facts.
Successfully continuing the state policy in this sphere and improving it in compliance with the requirements of the modern age the head of state has defined key aspects of migration policy. As a result of delicate approach of the state administration to migration field, attached significance, demonstrated attention and care to this sphere, in 2004 a single concept in migration sphere, as well as State Migration Programme covering 2006-2008 were adopted. As a logical continuation of implemented activities, an independent state authority – the State Migration Service – was established with the Decree No.560 from March 19, 2007 of the President Ilham Aliyev in order to realize more enhanced system on migration in our country. During the past period material and technical base and infrastructure of the entity have been developed, a number of measures have been taken towards expanding the scope of activity, electron information resources have been formed. Moreover, necessary amendments and addendums have been made to legislative acts, new normative legal acts have been adopted for the purpose of improving activity of migration bodies.
Adoption of Migration Code is one of the measures taken with the aim of adapting the legislation to the requirements of modern period. “Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan” drafted in accordance with “State Migration Programme of the Republic of Azerbaijan” entered into force on August 1 of the current year according to the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan from July 2, 2013.
The Code is a single document establishing norms concerning implementation of the state policy in migration field, regulation of migration processes and relations arising in this sphere, as well as the legal status of foreigners and stateless persons in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Along with new norms, provisions of various normative legal acts regulating migration field up today have been collected in the Code. Collection of norms regulating relations in migration area in a single document will facilitate the process of learning the rights and obligations by migration processes stakeholders – relevant state authorities, the citizens, foreigners and stateless persons - obtaining information on scope of cases causing liability, other regulatory provisions on migration.
Is there any analog of such code in neighbouring countries?
As in other areas Azerbaijan uses progressive and advanced international practice in migration field. It should be specially emphasized that interest of other countries is very high in Migration Code which was first adopted in our country. A number of countries have started to study the practice of our country in the sphere of drafting Migration Code.
What are the novelties in the Migration Code?
Generally, one of the purposes of improving legislation is facilitation of relevant procedures on the area regulated by those legal documents. Registration upon place of stay, grounds and periods of residence of foreigners and stateless persons in the territory of the country, as well as application of other considered relevant norms have been facilitated in the Code. One of the novelties regulated by the Code is related with migration record of foreigners and stateless persons. Objectives, way of conduct and grounds of migration record are included here.
Furthermore, with the adoption of the Code amendments have been made to the rules of foreigners’ and stateless persons’ transit through the territory of the country, rules of their registration upon place of stay via Unified Migration Information System have been defined, in general, registration procedure has been facilitated.
Facilitation has been considered in the sphere of issuing residence and work permits. The legislation in force did not allow extending validity of permit for temporary residence, as well as work permit more than four times, but this limit was removed with the adoption of the Code. At the same time, work permit is not required for foreigners and stateless persons married with the citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan, applied for refugee status, obtained refugee status or granted asylum, political asylum, as well as those having in their custody a citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan who is under the age of 18 or I group disabled person.
It should be mentioned that persons who possess real estate which is worth at least 100.000 manats in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan or deposit in the same amount in banks of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be able to obtain permit for temporary residence in the territory of the country. Furthermore, the provision on granting permit for temporary residence to persons investing in the country economy in the amount at least 500.000 manats for the period up to 3 years is one of the novelties applied taking into account the development pace of our country. Besides, provisions on extension for the period up to 2 years of temporary residence permits issued for the period up to 1 year during the next application are reflected in the Code. As an exceptional case, issuance of permits for temporary and permanent residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan to foreigners and stateless persons married with a citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan and who are carriers of a virus of dangerous infectious disease is also envisaged by the Code.
Interpretation of definitions, such as family members of foreigners and stateless persons, close relationship, etc. is stipulated in the Code, which will prevent misunderstanding faced in some cases.
Though provisions related with testing knowledge of foreigners and stateless persons intending to reside permanently in our country on their rights and obligations, as well as official language are new for our country, it is of great importance from the viewpoint of foreigners’ integration to our society. Relevant activities are being implemented in this sphere.
New categories of visas, staying period of each visa, list of required documents for issuance of visa, rule of issuing visas are reflected, as well as the possibility of applying electronically for obtaining permits for stay and residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan are considered in the Code.
According to the Code applications of foreigners and stateless persons for issuance of visa will be processed within 15 days from the application date. Applications for obtaining electron visas for tourists will be processed within 10 days, in some cases within 2 days.
Possibility of extending temporary staying period of foreigners and stateless persons arriving in the Republic of Azerbaijan up to 60 days is also envisaged by the Code.
Previously foreigners and stateless persons had to apply to migration bodies at least 7 days before expiration of temporary staying period in the Republic of Azerbaijan, now that period is defined as at least up to 3 days.
Permission card for temporary or permanent residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be recognized as identification document of foreigners and stateless persons in the territory of the country.
In case foreigners and stateless persons re-apply to migration bodies within the period of their legal stay or residence in the country, they will submit only the document certifying removal of the reason for rejection to issuance of permit for temporary residence. Such a facilitated application procedure will be also applied to the cases when issuance of permanent residence permit and work permit is rejected.
Foreigners and stateless persons carrying out entrepreneurship activity in the Republic of Azerbaijan are considered to be granted a permit for temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This case will be considered as a ground for issuance of a permit for temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, if those persons actually operate by concluding labour contract with at least 5 persons on full time employment or 10 persons on part-time employment. In this case 80 percent of employees are required to be citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Which issues on strengthening state control over migration processes have been considered?
Of course, implementation of activities on issues related with realization of state control over migration processes is envisaged by the Code along with aforementioned. In case a foreigner or stateless person violates declared purposes of his/her arrival while staying in the Republic of Azerbaijan earlier, submits falsified information about himself/herself or purpose of the travel while submitting application on arrival in the Republic of Azerbaijan, or is involved in administrative liability twice or more within last 3 years for violating migration legislation his/her entry to the Republic of Azerbaijan is restricted for 5 years.
Furthermore, in case of removal of the ground for issuance of permit for temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and absence of other grounds for issuance of permit, or stay more than 90 days within 180 days beyond the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, or violation of declared purpose of arrival during temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, foreigners and stateless persons are not granted permit for temporary residence in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the permit issued earlier is abolished.
Procedure of consideration of stay in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan as undesired is defined, the period of consideration of those foreigners and stateless persons as undesired is established for 5 years, issues on extension of that period for the same period in case of not removal of relevant grounds and implementation of decision-making on expulsion of those persons from the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan by migration bodies are reflected in the Code as well.
Moreover, issues of decision-making on expulsion of foreigners and stateless persons whose visa, decision on extension of temporary staying period or permit for temporary or permanent residence is cancelled, whose stay in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is considered undesirable, as well as those released from punishment by migration bodies in case of absence of relevant grounds for their residence in the Republic of Azerbaijan are reflected in the document. Entry of such foreigners to the territory of the country is restricted for 5 years.
At the same time an obligation has been imposed on them to leave the country within 48 hours since the decision on expulsion of foreigners and stateless persons (released from punishment, whose visa or decision on extension of temporary staying period has been cancelled, as well as whose stay in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been considered undesirable) is presented. Foreigners and stateless persons whose permit for temporary or permanent residence has been cancelled should leave the country within 10 days.
Decision on expulsion will be implemented by migration bodies.
Experience of which countries and international organizations has been used while drafting Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan?
While drafting such a significant document migration legislation of several countries has been studied, cooperation was conducted with Representations of International Organization for Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations, their proposal towards improvement of legislation has been taken into consideration. At the same time relevant state authorities, specialists and scholars were involved in this process.
Which rights and obligations do foreigners and stateless persons have according to Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan which has recently entered into force?
Rights and obligations of foreigners and stateless persons are clearly reflected in the Code. While staying in the Republic of Azerbaijan such persons can enjoy all the rights equally as the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, if otherwise is not envisaged by the Law or international agreements that the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to. They have equal rights before the Law and the court in the Republic of Azerbaijan irrespective of social and property conditions, race and nationality, gender, language, attitude to religion, type and character of activity, other cases.
While staying in the Republic of Azerbaijan foreigners and stateless persons should fulfill all the obligations equally with our citizens, if otherwise is not envisaged by the Law or international agreements that the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to. Realization of rights and freedoms of foreigners and stateless persons should not be against the national interest of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Foreigners and stateless persons should not violate requirements of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, laws and other legislative acts, should respect customs and traditions of Azerbaijani people. Law violation by foreigners and stateless persons results in liability.
As we know changes was made to registration process of foreigners and stateless persons arriving in the country on April 1, 2013. Please give us information about these changes.
Changes and addendums are constantly made to relevant legal acts in order to improve and facilitate legislation in migration sphere.
From April 1, 2013 foreigners and stateless persons should get registered upon place of stay within 3 days after arrival in the country. For the purpose of registration of foreigners or stateless persons, the receiving party should submit relevant application form and passport copy of that person to the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan via web page, mail, e-mail or in person within 3 days. After receiving the application form migration bodies immediately registers the foreigner or stateless person upon place of stay and presents written notification to receiving party about it. Foreigners and stateless persons are registered for the following periods:
1) Persons arrived upon visa – for the period of stay indicated on the visa;
2) Persons arrived under visa-free regime – for 90 days.
According to the changes state fee for registration upon place of stay of foreigners and stateless persons has been abolished.
According to recently adopted Migration Code foreigners and stateless persons can also apply themselves for registration upon place of stay in a way defined in the legislation.
When foreigners leave the place of stay, the receiving party or the person himself/herself should inform migration bodies and according to this information they will be deregistered upon place of stay. When registration period expires, foreigners are considered deregistered. At the same time when a foreigner changes place of stay, he/she should get re-registered upon new place of stay in a defined way.
Thank you for the interview.
Chief of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan, III rank state migration service counselor.