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Ukrainian Electronic Visas For Foreigners: Perspectives And Terms


Ivan Bozhko, attorney at Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm
Source: Ukrainian News

Back in October 2016 Ukrainian community noted the inconveniences that every foreigner arriving to our country by evening flights faced. Unable to obtain a Ukrainian visa, due to restrictions in the schedule of the consular departments of international airports in Ukraine, foreign tourists, potential investors and simply international guests were forced to spend the night in the terminals of our country’s airports.

After this issue was spread among the public, the first persons of the state turned their attention to it, in particular, at that time the Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman, who instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to eliminate this inconvenience, announced the policy of introducing electronic visas for foreigners.

When our authorities coped with the first task very promptly (by the Order of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine dated October 17, 2016, the 24-hour working schedule of the Department of Consular Service at the airport “Borispol” was established), the introduction of electronic visas has somewhat been delayed.

In particular, the issue of electronic visas was repeatedly raised in the form of Twitter message from the Consular Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to which it is promised that our country will soon follow the example of another state – the Arab Republic of Egypt – that announced the introduction of electronic visas this summer.

Such publication was related to the adoption on March 1, 2017, of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 118 “On the Approval of the Rules for Visas Issuing for Entry to Ukraine and Transit Through Its Territory” (hereinafter – Resolution No. 118). Therewith, there is no information in this legal regulation about any requirements for electronic visas issuing – it is only stated that the requirements are to be established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. In such a way, currently the state did not designate any legislative rules for this procedure. (Resolution No. 118 has not come into effect yet).

It is worth to mention that as of today there are about two dozens of states in the world providing similar services to foreigners that are: Australian Union, the Republic of India, the Republic of Singapore, Turkey, etc.

Following the example of the electronic visa services of these countries, it can be assumed that the similar system in Ukraine will provide for the following procedure:

1) Filling in the visa application form in the relevant online service with passport and contact details, choosing the type of visa and the length of stay in the country;
2) Attachment of electronic copies of necessary documents (for example, scanned copies of passports, travel documents (air tickets), health insurance policy, documents confirming hotel reservations and availability of sufficient financial security for the entire period of the planned stay in Ukraine, etc.);
3) Payment for the relevant services (according to the Resolution No. 118, the consular fee for issuing the electronic visa shall be USD 65);
4) Receipt of a notice on electronic means of communication on the results of electronic visa application processing.

Pursuant to the provisions of Resolution No. 118, visas in electronic form will be issued as single entry visa for up to 30 days for trips with business or tourist purposes.

At the initial stages of the operation of such a service in Ukraine it is recommended, first of all, to have an electronic visa in printed version, as well as the entire package of documents required for obtaining the visa under the usual procedures. Such precaution shall help to avoid unpleasant surprises on arrival, related, among the other things, to the stability of newly established electronic systems. Moreover, it should be checked whether the airport of arrival supports the provision of the appropriate services – the electronic visas are more likely to be accepted only at the international airports “Boryspil”, “Zhulyany” and “Odessa”. In addition, in case of flight/arrival dates changes there is a good chance that the foreigners will be forced to submit a new application for electronic visa and to pay another consular fee.

In any case, even taking into account the abovementioned difficulties, the enforcement of such a mechanism shall be a serious step to the improvement of our country’s image and its attractiveness for tourists, as electronic visa system possesses a number of advantages in comparison with the currently functioning procedure, as it will be unnecessary to visit the consular office personally and the terms for visa processing will be reduced, and the pages in passport will be saved for traveling abroad.

At the same time, it is way too early to talk about the implementation of electronic visas for foreigners as the new Rules for Visa Issuing for Entry to Ukraine and Transit Through its Territory approved by the Resolution No. 118 shall come into force in 30 days upon their publication, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has not even adopted the special legal regulation yet.

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