Work Permit Requirements
As a general rule, a holder of an Armenian visa is not entitled to work in Armenia unless s/he also holds a work permit. Highly skilled foreign specialists, business owners, executives and certain other categories of workers are exempt from work permit requirements.
The transfer of staff (skilled or non-qualified) is subject to obtaining a work permit and, where necessary, a temporary residence permit. In Armenia, for work permit requirements, no distinction is made between intra-company transfers, local hires or subcontracting employment. The work permit has to be applied for on behalf of the legal employer and is issued for the duration of the employment contract. The law requires the employer to search for Armenian citizens to do the job.
Work permit requirements do not apply to the following categories of foreigners:
- Holders of permanent or special residency permits;
- Holders of temporary residency permits if such permit is issued on the basis of being a family member of another holder of permanent (special, temporary) residency permit;
- Founders, directors and representatives of commercial organizations with foreign investment;
- Foreigners employed in representative offices of foreign companies;
- Foreign specialists employed to install or repair machinery and other equipment purchased from foreign companies or to train local staff to operate such machinery or equipment;
- Highly qualified foreign specialists in areas of natural sciences, information technologies (1. technician, operation and technical maintenance of computing equipment and computer systems; 2. technician, operation of computing machines, complexes, systems and networks; 3. web designer), agriculture (1. agriculture specialist; 2. farmer; 3. technician-cultivator), as well as foreigners with higher education in 1. information and communication technologies; 2. management and administration; 3. food technology; 4. finances;
- Family members of diplomatic staff;
- Foreigners working in border areas;
- Short-term workers in areas of sports and culture;
- Lecturers invited to lecture in Armenian educational institutions;
- Accredited representatives of foreign media organizations;
- Refugees and foreigners granted asylum;
- Students working during vacations within exchange programs;
- Foreigners arriving to Armenia on the basis of international agreements;
- Foreigners exempted from work permit requirements by virtue of international agreements.
A business visitor cannot undertake work activities while in Armenia, unless these activities are exempted from work permit requirements. Permitted activities during a business trip include meetings, interviews, discussions, negotiations, exploring business opportunities, attending conferences, conducting site visits, taking orders or purchasing goods or services. Payment by an Armenian entity of salary or other remuneration would be evidence of work.
Employers which already employed foreign labor at the time the work permit regulations came into effect do not have to apply for work permits until the current employment agreements expire. However, they must present copies of such employment agreements to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) within 60 days. Any new hiring will require a work permit.
Unless a foreign individual is exempted from work permit requirements, the employer must first obtain a work permit by applying to the MLSA. The migrant will normally then apply for a temporary residence permit in order to be granted the permission to live and work in Armenia.
The process at the MLSA involves a test of the Armenian market to ensure that there are no qualified and available Armenian workers to fill the position. If MLSA identifies Armenian nationals who may fit with the employer’s requirements they will be referred to the employer for an interview. The employer does not have to advertise the vacancy or to offer a certain wage (as long as the minimum monthly salary requirements are satisfied).
If no candidates are referred by the MSLA to the employer or if the employer rejects these candidates for valid reasons, the employer is then allowed to apply for a work permit for a particular foreigner. The work permit has a fixed term and is renewable on request. From the moment when a work permit is granted the foreign national can start working in Armenia.
After obtaining the work permit the foreign national has to file an application for a temporary residence permit at the Passport and Visa Department of the Police in Yerevan. The application must be accompanied by supporting documentation, including medical test results. The temporary residence card is issued within approximately 30-45 days of the application date.
Under the current regulations obtaining a work permit can take as little as 13 business days.
The employer or the employee will have to pay the fees for obtaining a work permit (AMD 25,000 or around USD 52) and, if necessary, a temporary residence permit (AMD 105,000 or around USD 219).
The following documents must be filed by the employer with the MLSA:
- Application form
- Employee’s passport
- Diplomas and other documents showing education or qualification, with consular legalization (or Apostille)
- Two photographs (3×4 cm)
- Proof of payment of the government fees
All documents, except for the employee’s passport, are retained by the MLSA.
The Code of Administrative Offences provides penalties for immigration/work permit violations. Failure to obtain a work permit/residence permit is punishable by a monetary fine of AMD 100,000 to 150,000 (around USD 208 to 313). Overstaying a visa or otherwise violating the immigration status is punishable by a fine of AMD 50,000 to 100,000 (around USD 104 to 208).
If, after obtaining a work permit, the employer fails to provide the position the permit was obtained for, the employer must cover the return travel costs, living, and personal property transportation expenses of the employee and the family members accompanying them.