Kazakhstan: New procedures set for foreign workers Jan. 1

What is the change? Kazakhstan has announced several changes to procedures for engaging foreign employees and assignees beginning Jan. 1.

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What does the change mean? The changes affect work permits and intracompany transfers. In addition, the list of foreign nationals who are exempt from work permits is expected to be introduced by the end of the year. Foreign nationals heading company branches and representative offices are expected to remain exempt from having to obtain work permits.

  • Implementation time frame: Jan. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits under the general scheme and under the intracompany transfer scheme.
  • Who is affected: Companies employing or assigning foreign nationals in Kazakhstan.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing time will be reduced to seven business days (from the current 15 days).
  • Next steps: Additional decrees are forthcoming that list foreign nationals eligible for exemptions from work permits and that list the industry sectors allowing intracompany transfers.

Key changes:

General work permits

  • Work permits for first-category workers (heads of companies and their deputies) will be valid for one year (instead of the current three years), but may be renewed an unlimited number of times.
  • Work permits for second-category (heads of departments and subdivisions) and third-category workers (specialists such as engineers, managers, supervisors and others) may be extended up to three times (instead of two times under current rules).
  • For purposes of calculating the foreign-to-local worker ratios, nationals of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia will no longer be counted as foreign workers.
  • Employers will no longer be required to conduct a search for local employees and will no longer need to fulfill special conditions before hiring foreign workers, such as training and hiring local workers. Additionally, employers will no longer be required to pay a banking deposit when applying for work permits.
  • New government fees apply to work permits based on the category and industry. See the table here.

Intracompany Transfer (ICT) permits

  • Foreign-to-local ratios must be followed for foreign nationals assigned to Kazakhstan as ICTs. The number of managers must not exceed 50 percent of Kazakh managers, and specialists may not exceed 50 percent of Kazakh specialists. There is no limit on head managers.
  • An ICT agreement may be used to support the work permit application.
  • Two new requirements are slated to take effect, but are also expected to be repealed thereafter: Employers would be required to advertise for 30 days instead of 15 days for local candidates, and employees would be required to pass an elementary level Kazakh language test.
  • A list of about 21 industry sectors allowing ICTs is due to be released by the government before the end of the year.

Processing changes

  • Work permits will be processed in seven business days (instead of the current 15 business days).
  • Work permits will be issued only for a single region or city. Business trips to other regions will be allowed for 90 day per calendar year (increased from the current 60-day limit).
  • Extensions of work permits must be filed no later than one month before the expiration date (instead of 20 days under the current rule).
  • Applicants requesting reissuance of a work permit due to a change in name or passport details must file within 20 business days from the change (instead of 10 business days under current rules), and reissuance due to company reorganization must be filed within 10 business days (instead of 10 calendar days under current rules).

BAL Analysis: The changes ease rules and provide for faster processing and greater flexibility for employers and foreign nationals applying for work permits and ICT work permits.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Kazakhstan. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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