Sunday, January 24, 2010

Migration Rules for Business Owners

One the first major things that many foreigners have to work out when starting a business in Moldova is getting the right to come and stay in Moldova. The issues of getting a residence permit and to stay legally in the territory of Moldova become a problem for many. This post will cover some of these issues.

Visas and visa prolongation

Moldova established the visa regime for visitors from most of the countries. Only representatives of certain states may enter Moldova without a visa. These are most of the CIS countries, EU members and some other European countries (Iceland, Norway, Swiss Confederation), US and Canada and Japan. Recently it was announced about lifting visa requirements for Israeli, Andorra, Monaco and Liechtenstein citizens from 01 March 2010 (see the full list of countries of which citizens may enter Moldova without a visa as well as the list all Moldovan Consulates abroad on the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affars).

In any case, even the citizens of those countries that do not require a visa to Moldova have a limited right to stay in Moldoa for a long period of time. Without getting a residence permit you can only stay in Moldova for not more than 90 days (overall) during 6 months period.

In case you're in Moldova on a visa and you need to prolong it for certain reasons you should address the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication. There are no strict and clear criteria for visa prolongation, hence this issue is totally left at the authorities' discretion. The application for visa prolongation should be submitted no later than 72 hours before your visa expires.

Labour migration and residence permits for business owners.

Starting a business and registering a company in Moldova provides you with addtional possibilties to get a residence permit to stay in Moldova for longer periods of time. However, various legaislative acts have provided differing rules for same categories of persons in terms of stipulating clear criteria for granting residence permits.

As we say particularly about the persons who registered a company in Moldova in order to carry out certain business activities here, the latest official act regulating this issue is the Law on Labour Migration (No. 180-XVI of 10 July 2008; in force - since 01 January 2009).

Though owning and managing a company may not necessarily fall under the term "labour" in its literal sense, business owner are regarded by this Law as labour migrants.

As a general rule labour migrants in Moldova may undertake their labour activity on the basis of the work permit and the temporary residence permit. The work permit is granted by the Nationl Employment Agency, and the decision on granting the right to stay temporarily in the territory of Moldova is taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs on the basis of the work permit issued by the National Agency. Following the positive decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs on providing the right to stay in Moldova the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication issues the temporary residence permit for working purposes.

In order to hire foreign employees the employer should ask the National Agency for the approval. However, in case of foreign citizens who have founded a company in Moldova may receive the work permit without such an approval by the Agency.

The followig documents should be presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to get the work permit and the right to the temporary residence:

1) Company's application to the National Agency and to the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue working and residence rights;
2) The migrant's application form/questionnaire;
3) Company registration documents (the company's registration certificate, the extract from the State Legal Entities Registry, and the respective licence - if relevant);
4) Documents confirming the company's activity (the State Principal Fiscal Inspection on the lack of debts to the public budget, a copy of the financial statements for the recent period, if this period exceeds three months);
5) Individual labour contract (if relevant);
6) the copy of the foreign citizen's national ID (passport) with the respective stamp of the Border Service on crossing the border of Moldova;
7) Medical certificate from the respective Moldovan medical institution confirming that the applicant is not AIDS/HIV positive;
8) Documents about the applicant's living conditions (e.g. renting contract);
9) two recent photos (50x60 mm);
10) the certificate on the lack of previous criminal records from the applicant's country of origin (apostilled or legalized).

The general term of the temporary residence rights granted to companies owners is 1 year - with the right to prolng it (the decision on granting the right to reside in Moldova should be taken by the authorities within 30 days period).

Some categories of persons that made the investments for the sums that follow may be provided with the residence permits for longer periods of time (with the right of prolongation):

USD 10 000 - 100 000 - up to 2 years;
USD 100 000 - 250 000 - up to 3 years;
more than USD 250 000 - up to 5 years.

For these categories of persons the decision is taken within 15 days.



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