New Ukrainian Visa Rules for Long-Term Visitors – Message for U.S. citizens – U.S. Embassy Kyiv, September 12, 2011
DISCLAIMER: The information below is provided as a general overview of the new Ukrainian visa and residence rules rather than specific guidance. It is subject to change without notice. The U.S. Embassy is not in a position to interpret Ukrainian immigration rules or to advise private U.S. citizens on an individual basis. We highly recommended that you contact the Ukrainian authorities directly with specific questions.
We would like to share information on new Ukrainian visa rules in effect beginning September 10, 2011. These new rules affect you only if you plan to stay in Ukraine for more than 90 days. Americans do not need visas for trips of less than 90 cumulative days in a 180 day period.
On June 1, 2011, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine issued Resolution #567 “On Establishment of the Rules of Visa Issuance for Entry into Ukraine and Transit Through Its Territory” that came into effect on September 10, 2011. The resolution introduces major changes in the Ukrainian visa rules and broadens the list of foreigners entitled to obtain temporary residence permits. Overall, the new legislation aims to standardize visa and temporary residence rules and to bring them in line with European Union practices.
American Citizens travelling to Ukraine still do not need visas for stays of less than 90 cumulative days within a 180 day period. This means you can come for 90 days in one trip and then remain outside the country for 90 days, or that you can make multiple shorter trips to Ukraine totaling no more than 90 days in a 180 day period starting with the date of your first entry. If you plan to spend more time in Ukraine – either during one trip or multiple trips – then you need a visa.
Visas are issued by Ukrainian Embassies and Consulates abroad. There is no way to obtain a visa in Ukraine or at the border. The new long term visas are single-entry and are valid for 45 days (the validity dates determine when you can enter the country, not how long you can stay). This new type of visa replaces all previously existing visa types that allowed stays in Ukraine for more than 90 days. Americans can apply at any Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate, but you should contact the Embassy or Consulate where you intend to apply in advance because exact procedures and processing times vary.
The new long-term stay visas allow you to enter Ukraine during their 45 day validity period. You then need to apply for a temporary residence permit at your local immigration office (officially called VGIRFO but usually referred to by its old acronym, OVIR). The temporary residence permit gives you full legal status in Ukraine and lets you freely travel in and out of Ukraine for as long as it is valid. You will not need to apply for a new visa if you leave Ukraine and you will not need to re-register with OVIR during the permit’s validity period.
Family members of residency permit holders should soon be able to get full legal temporary resident status in Ukraine, too. Before that can happen, however, the Ukrainian parliament has to pass an additional law. Unfortunately it is not clear when they will do this, but Ukrainian officials assure us that they are doing their best to make this happen in the nearest future. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens who are family members of temporary residence permit holders and who are over 18 (those under 18 don’t need residency permits) can only stay legally in Ukraine for 90 days within a 180 day period.
To apply for a residence permit once in Ukraine, you should contact your local OVIR office for exact details and procedures. In general, you will need:
- Your passport and valid long term stay visa
- A completed application form
- A photo
- Documentary proof of your address in Ukraine
- The application fee of approximately $5.00
- A letter from the inviting party verified by the respective state body (you also need this to apply for a long term visa). For example, NGO employees would need a letter from the inviting NGO that has been verified by the Ministry of Justice and religious workers would need a letter from their religious organization verified by the Ministry of Culture.
- If someone is applying on your behalf, you need to provide them with a letter of permission along with a power of attorney
The new visa rules are not retroactive and all previously issued visas, extensions of stay, and temporary residence permits will be still valid until their expiration date. However, please note that most “old” non-immigrant visas issued before September 10, 2011 (except for employment, religious, diplomatic, and service visas) have always been and will still be valid only for multiple short-term stays in Ukraine totaling less than 90 days within a 180 day period.
In the past, some travelers have used multiple-entry Ukrainian business or private stay visas to reside in Ukraine, getting extensions of stay (or “registering”) to remain in Ukraine for more than 90 days. Extensions of stay may still be possible under limited conditions. However, there is no guarantee they will be granted or that holders of “old” visas will be re-admitted to Ukraine if they have already been in the country for more than 90 days out of the preceding 180. If Ukrainian immigration authorities decide that you cannot extend your stay in Ukraine or that you cannot re-enter the country after a trip outside the country, the U.S. Embassy cannot help you. You will have no choice but to apply for a new long term stay visa abroad.
Religious (‘P’ – type) visa holders will be able to stay in Ukraine for the duration of their current visas. The Embassy has received conflicting information, however, about what will happen to religious visa holders who leave the country for a short trip abroad. After September 10 they will be allowed to enter Ukraine for 90 days, like any other U.S. citizen, but it is not clear whether they will be able to remain longer than 90 days. If you fall into this category, please contact your local OVIR office for more information before you plan a trip outside of Ukraine. You may have to get a new long term stay visa while you are abroad.
If you have a service (‘C’- type) visa, you may need to take certain steps depending on the sub-category of visa and your organizational affiliation. The Embassy will pass more information to sponsoring organizations as it becomes available.
Americans who travel to Ukraine without visas are no longer able to extend their stays beyond 90 days unless there are clear humanitarian grounds (e.g. medical or family emergencies).
Foreigners who have been married to a Ukrainian for more than two years are eligible for permanent residency in Ukraine. Please contact your local OVIR office or your nearest Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate abroad for more information.
The State Migration Service of Ukraine claims to be working to improve OVIR services. They encourage people who have problems with local immigration authorities to report them at (+38 044) 254-7871. You can also get more information on their website at www.dmsu.gov.ua (in Ukrainian only).