Stay of Foreigners in Kazakhstan
Almira Abraimova, Senior manager, People Advisory Services, EY
Legislators in Kazakhstan pass numerous amendments each year in a wide variety of areas to enhance the business environment and adapt to new economic realities.
In this article I would like to explore recent legal developments affecting foreigners in Kazakhstan.
Changes in migration law are designed to ensure national security, make the country more attractive to investors and develop tourism. The last few years have seen a positive trend of expanding opportunities for visa-free travel to Kazakhstan. In 2014, citizens of 10 investor countries were granted the right to stay in Kazakhstan for 15 calendar days without visas. In 2017, ahead of Expo 2017 and the Winter Universiade, the list of countries was expanded to 45 and the period of stay lengthened to 30 calendar days. In 2019, another 12 countries were added to the list, making a total of 57, not counting countries that have longstanding bilateral and multilateral agreements with Kazakhstan on visa-free travel.
Among the most important changes in migration law made so far in 2020 is a reduction in the overall number of days that foreigners from these countries can stay in the country without a visa. Foreign nationals who are not employed in Kazakhstan and have no other reason for a longer stay based on a temporary residence permit may stay a maximum of 30 calendar days each time they enter the country, for a combined total of no more than 90 calendar days in a 180-day period. Before this restriction was introduced, foreigners entitled to visit Kazakhstan without a visa under domestic law could enter the country an unlimited number of times and thus stay for a lengthy period during the course of a year. In view of the number of violations involving the hiring of foreign labor, supervisory agencies believe that this measure will deter foreigners from working illegally in Kazakhstan.
Visits by foreigners are always a national security concern, and Kazakhstan has a number of systems in place to monitor such visits.
Previously, foreigners staying in Kazakhstan longer than five calendar days were required to register their passport with the migration authorities. There were different registration periods for citizens of some countries that had bilateral or multilateral intergovernmental agreements with Kazakhstan. Chinese nationals had to register within 5 days, for example, while Russians had to register within 30 days and Ukrainians within 90.
There has also long been a requirement that the migration authorities be notified of foreigners in Kazakhstan. Regardless of the number of days a foreigner stays, the host party must notify the authorities within three days after the foreigner’s arrival. In practice, these had to be paper notifications filed in person. Notification serves as verification of the information in the visa invitation letter or, in the absence of a visa, as the primary source of information for the migration authorities on a foreigner’s location and the purposes of his or her visit.