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Visa, residency, passport
Vardanyan & Partners
Foreigners investing in the Armenian economy may qualify for one of the following residence permits:
5 years, extendable
10 years, extendable
Invest in economy, real estate, start a business
Spouse, parent, son or daughter
Spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild
After 3 years
The immigration authorities (Police and National Security Service) will consider the nature of the investment, its size, location, creation of jobs, your nationality and other factors in deciding whether you qualify for a residence permit.
Students enrolled in Armenian schools and universities generally get temporary residence permits that are valid for up to one year and can be extended.
Foreign workers can get a temporary (one-year) residence permit on the basis of an employment agreement signed with the Armenian employer. Working without a residence permit may result in penalties for the employer and visa revocation.
The residence permit can be canceled if the student or the employee is terminated by the school/university or the employer.
In June of 2016 Armenia introduced a system of work permits that requires employers to obtain work permits before they can hire foreign employees. These rules became effective on January 1, 2019. Fore more information, please check the section on work permits.
Temporary (one-year) residence permits are available for family members of Armenian citizens and other residence permit holders. Who can be sponsored and for what type of residence permit depends on the status of the principal applicant (sponsor). A residence permit will be issued to a family member if documents are submitted showing the kinship (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate).
Spouse, parent, son or daughter can get a temporary (one-year) residence permit.
Spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild can get a temporary (one-year) residence permit.
Spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild can get a temporary (one-year) residence permit. A permanent (five-year) residence permit may also be available after three years of residence in Armenia.
Ethnic Armenians (individuals who can prove that one of their ancestors was Armenian), qualify for any type of residence permit (temporary, permanent, special) as well as for Armenian citizenship. An ethnic Armenian may prefer a special residence permit over citizenship, for example, to avoid military registration/service. For more information on establishing Armenian origin please check the section on the Armenian passport.
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The table below shows the typical procedure for getting a residence permit if you are a business owner. In real life the procedure and steps involved may differ depending on your circumstances.
1. Get a Visa
It is not possible to apply for a residence permit from abroad as Armenian embassies do not issue residence permits. In other words, you will have to travel to Armenia, even for a few days. Please check the section on visas to see if you need a visa and, if so, if you also need an invitation letter from Armenia.
2. Visit Armenia
The duration of your stay in Armenia will largely depend on your circumstances. While in certain cases a single day may be sufficient, typically you should plan to stay in Armenia for at least a couple of weeks.
3. Register a Business
The business can be registered after your arrival but it also can be registered before your visit with a power of attorney. The corporate form (LLC, corporation, branch office, private entrepreneur etc.) will depend on the nature of your business and other circumstances. Your business will also get a tax identification number and a stamp.
4. Open a Bank Account
As with business registration, the bank account also can be opened before your arrival, with a power of attorney. It is advisable to check the possibility of opening an account in advance as some banks may refuse to work with individuals who are blacklisted or are nationals of certain countries (e.g. Iran, Syria etc.) Typically a bank will offer accounts in multiple currencies, internet banking and debit cards (VISA or MasterCard).
5. Office Premises
While renting or buying an office or other business premises is not a legal requirement, in many cases a business cannot be launched until suitable business premises are secured. If the nature of your business is such that you do not need an office space (e.g. work on the Internet) then there is generally no need to rent an office, and the security officer will conduct the interview (see step 9) at your apartment or other place of residence.
6. Launch the Business
In Armenia you qualify for a residence permit not before you start your work/business but after it. In other words, you need to show not only that your business is registered but that it has become operational. At this stage we will assist you with collecting documents, photographs and other forms of evidence to strengthen your case.
7. Medical Check
The medical check has to be conducted at a hospital in Armenia. It normally takes around 30 minutes and involves taking an X-Ray. Blood test is not required.
8. Apply for Residency
The application for a residence permit can be filed with a power of attorney. In other words, you do not have to personally deal with the Immigration Office. However, you are supposed to be physically present in Armenia when the application is filed and the original of your passport will have to be presented to the Immigration Office (it will be returned to you immediately after). The government fees for residency are also paid at this stage. You can apply for a residence permit if you have a valid visa (entry stamp). If you overstayed your visa it may be still possible to apply for a residence permit after paying a fine.
Typically, the security officer will conduct an in-person interview at your business premises within 8-15 days after the residence permit application is filed. The interview normally takes 20-30 minutes and its purpose is to establish that your business is legitimate and operational. In certain cases a second interview at the Immigration Office is conducted.
10. Residence Card
The residence permit application is normally approved in 25-40 days, after which the residence permit can be collected from the Immigration Office. Your presence is generally not needed and your lawyer can collect the residence permit with a power of attorney. Currently the residence permit is issued in the form of a paper card that you can hold in your passport.
11. Family Members
While it is possible to file residence permit applications for the principal applicant and its family members simultaneously, it is generally recommended to wait until the residence permit of the principal applicant is approved. Family members will have to show documents of kinship (e.g. birth or marriage certificate) that are properly legalized (consular legalization or Apostille).
12. Address Registration
The law requires residents to register their address with the local police station within 15 days following the issuance of the residence permit. The resident can either submit a property documents (lease or ownership certificate) to prove his address or he/she can declare the address in a written statement, which is then verified by a local police officer within 5-10 days.
13. SSN and Driver's License
After the residence permit is issued and the address is registered the resident can apply for a social security number (SSN) and a driver's license.
The law requires the Immigration Office to take a decision on approving or rejecting the residence status within 30 calendar days. In practice this deadline is not always respected. In certain cases the approval comes as early as in 25 days, while other cases are decided in 35-40 days or even later.
Armenia is a beautiful country with rich history and traditions, beautiful nature and a very low crime rate. Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is considered to be one of the safest cities in the world.
The cost of living is low compared to other European countries. A list of indicative prices can be found here.
An Armenian residence permit grants you and your family members the right to unrestricted stay in the country, visa-free travel to Armenia, and the right to engage in any lawful activities, such as doing business, working, studying or simply retiring. A resident may invite other foreigners to Armenia. Residents enjoy constitutional rights and freedoms, including rights to healthcare, social security, education, property and privacy rights, freedom of speech, conscience, religion and belief. Armenian residents are not obliged to serve in the military.
You may apply for an Armenian passport after three years of residence in the country. In addition to the residency requirement you will have to show basic knowledge of Armenian language and the Armenian Constitution.
As of 2018 Armenian passport ranks 70th in the world according to Arton Capital Passport Index, and 78th according to Henley & Partners Passport Index, and allows visa-free travel to 59 countries, including Russia, most of CIS countries, and Iran.
Armenia specifically allows dual citizenship, and you will not be required to renounce any other citizenship.
Please note that only the Armenian passport is a travel document: you cannot use an Armenian residence permit to travel to other countries.
The application for a temporary or permanent residence permit is processed in about 30 calendar days. The law does not require you to be physically present in Armenia. However, in practice, you are requested to be in Armenia at the time of application. Moreover, in the absolute majority of cases there is an in-person interview within the first two weeks following the application and a second interview at the Immigration Office is also possible. In other words, it is recommended that you stay in Armenia until you get the residence permit or at least make sure that you can come to Armenia on a very short notice in order to be interviewed.
A new residence permit with the same validity period will be issued by the Immigration Office within a few days. A government fee of AMD 12,000 (US$25) is payable. The residence permit is also subject to change if any information contained in it changes (e.g. your passport number).
The residence permit can be renewed for an indefinite number of times, provided that the legal basis for obtaining the permit is still existing (e.g. you are still doing business in Armenia, still registered as student etc.). It is recommended to apply for extension at least 30 days before the expiration date of your permit.
We are a team of licensed immigration lawyers based in Armenia. We can provide you with all necessary support and guidance from the very beginning to the very end of the process. For more information on Armenia residence permit programs please email us at email@example.com.
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