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Citizenship by investments in Armenia: instructions for a foreign investor

In this article we will present South Caucasian country, Armenia in terms of the possibility of obtaining Armenian citizenship by investment. In 2019, the state was included in the list of top countries that provide beneficial, quick, and which is most important – completely legal citizenship by investment in the country’s economy.

It is noteworthy, that citizenship of Armenia by investments does not entail renouncement of citizenship of other countries nor creates obstacles for those wishing to renounce it. In fact, non-residents receive a second passport, which provides them rights identical to those of the local nationals, as well as social and political protection. Let us examine in more detail the ways to obtaining citizenship by investments in Armenia, as well as in the basics of legislative framework applicable to non-residents who wish to set up their business operations in Armenia.

Citizenship by investment in Armenia: legislative framework

The corporate immigration system of the Republic of Armenia, passport and visa departments are managed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The main sources of immigration law are:

  • The Law of the Republic of Armenia “On foreigners”;
  • Labor Code of the Republic of Armenia;
  • Constitution of the Republic of Armenia;
  • RA international treaties and other laws regulating immigration relations;
  • government regulations governing various technical issues, including working conditions and immigration rules.

It is important to remember that a special work permit will be required for official employment or the provision of services to foreign citizens.

Citizenship for investments in Armenia is available to business visitors of the country who, in accordance with the legislation and regulatory acts of the state, can:

  • register your business in Armenia;
  • carry out business activities;
  • work in Armenia under an employment contract;
  • provide services under a service contract.

In addition, Armenian legislation provides special categories of business visitors that are allowed to get started on job or provide services for a temporary period without the need for a permit. Documentation procedures are formalized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. 

Citizenship for Investment in Armenia: Visas overview 

Given the novelty of that formal employment permits, prospective foreign employers should know how to formalize labor relations and remuneration for hired employees.  

Citizenship for investments in Armenia is issued after permanent residence in the country for 5 years. However, initially foreign investors enter Armenian territory with one of 4 visas:

  • tourist visa;
  • diplomatic visa;
  • transit visa;
  • official visa.

All businesspeople, non-resident investors, as well as persons arriving in Armenia for the purpose of employment, apply for a V -7 visa (with the exception of crew members). Armenian visas are issued for a maximum of 120 days with the possibility of extension for another 60 days, unless otherwise specified by international treaties of the Republic of Armenia.

Employers of the Republic of Armenia have the right to conclude an employment contract with a foreign worker (a service contract or a temporary contract for a fixed period) if the authorized body has issued a work permit to a specific non-resident.

Here is the list of countries with which   Armenia has a visa-free regime according to bilateral and multilateral agreements as of 2020:

1Albania All types of passports
2Argentine RepublicAll types of passports
3AustriaDiplomatic passports only
4AzerbaijanAll types of passports
5BelarusAll types of passports
6Kingdom of BelgiumDiplomatic passports only
7Bosnia and HerzegovinaDiplomatic passports only
8Federal Republic of BrazilAll types of passports
9BulgariaDiplomatic passports only
10People’s Republic of ChinaDiplomatic and Service passports only
11CroatiaDiplomatic and Service passports only
12CyprusDiplomatic and Service passports only
13Czech RepublicDiplomatic passports only
14Arabian Republic of EgyptDiplomatic, Official and Service passports only
15EstoniaDiplomatic passports only
16FinlandDiplomatic passports only
17French RepublicDiplomatic passports only
18GeorgiaAll types of passports
19Federal Republic of GermanyDiplomatic passports only
20GreeceDiplomatic passports only
21Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China)All types of passports
22HungaryDiplomatic and Service passports only
23IndiaDiplomatic passports only
24IndonesiaDiplomatic and Service passports only
25Islamic Republic of IranAll types of passports
26Republic of ItalyDiplomatic passports only
27Hashemite Kingdom of JordanDiplomatic passports only
28KazakhstanAll types of passports
29KoreaDiplomatic and Service passports only
30State of KuwaitDiplomatic and Service passports only
31Kyrgiz RepublicAll types of passports
32LatviaDiplomatic and Service passports only
33Lebanese RepublicDiplomatic, Service and Special passports only
34LithuaniaDiplomatic passports only
35Grand Duchy of LuxembourgDiplomatic passports only
36Macao (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China)All types of passports
37MaltaDiplomatic passports only
38Mexican United StatesDiplomatic and Service passports only
39MoldovaAll types of passports
40MongoliaDiplomatic and official passports only
41MontenegroDiplomatic and Service passports only
42 Kingdom of Netherlands Diplomatic passports only
43Kingdom of Norway Diplomatic passports only
44PhilippinesDiplomatic and Service passports only
45PolandDiplomatic passports only
46PortugalDiplomatic passports only
47RomaniaDiplomatic and Service passports only
48Russian FederationAll types of passports
49Serbian RepublicDiplomatic and Service passports only
50SingaporeDiplomatic and Service passports only
51Slovak RepublicDiplomatic and Service passports only
52SloveniaDiplomatic passports only
53Kingdom of SpainDiplomatic passports only
54Kingdom of Sweden Diplomatic passports only
55Swiss ConfederationDiplomatic passports only
56Arabian Republic of SyriaDiplomatic, Official and Service passports only
57TajikistanAll types of passports
58TurkmenistanDiplomatic and Service passports only
59UkraineAll types of passports
60United Arab EmiratesDiplomatic passports only
61Eastern Republic of UruguayAll types of passports
62UzbekistanAll types of passports
63Socialist Republic of VietnamDiplomatic and Official passports only

Additionally, below is the list of countries whose citizens with all types of passports are unilaterally exempt from the requirement to obtain a visa to enter the Republic of Armenia. They can stay in the territory of the Republic of Armenia up to 180 days per year.

1.    Andorra
2.    Australia
3.    Austria
4.    Belgium
5.    Bulgaria
6.    Croatia
7.    Cyprus
8.    Czech Republic
9.    Denmark
10.   Estonia
11.   Finland
12.   France
13.   Germany
14.   Greece
15.   Hungary
16.   Iceland
17.   Ireland
18.   Italy
19.   Japan
20.   Latvia
21. Liechtenstein
22.  Lithuania
23.  Luxembourg
24.   Malta
25.   Monaco
26.   Montenegro
27.   Netherlands
28.   New Zealand
29.   Norway
30.   Poland
31.   Portugal
32.   Qatar
33.   Republic of Korea
34.   Romania
35.   San Marino
36.   Singapore
37.   Slovak
38.   Slovenia
39.   Spain
40.   Sweden
41.   Switzerland
42.   Vatican City State
43.   United Arab Emirates
44.   United Kingdom of Great Britain and        Northern Ireland
45.   United States of America

 Citizenship for investment in Armenia: what happens in case of violations

 Foreign citizens planning to obtain Armenian citizenship for investments, as well as to attract labor in the form of non-residents to their own enterprises, need to know what penalties the Armenian legislative framework envisages for such actions.

The hiring of foreigners by employers without a residence permit or work permit entails a fine in the amount of 100,000 to 150,000 Armenian drams (equivalent to approximately 210 to 310 US dollars). Annual quotas for various permits for official employment are not provided at this stage here.

Also, it should be noted that the Republic of Armenia does not limit foreign employers in the number of employees per one company. That is, a foreign investor doing business in Armenia is entitled to attract only foreign personnel (non-residents) should there be no suitable candidates of local resident candidates in the labor market (this is separately agreed separately in the regulatory authorities of the Republic of Armenia). 

Additionally, the following considerations should be borne in mind when looking to obtain citizenship by investments in Armenia with the employment of foreign persons:

  • lack of requirements for mandatory knowledge of the Armenian language by employees of the enterprise;
  • control by the employer of compliance with immigration rules by company personnel;
  • lack of requirements to train or improve the skills of local employees (the legislation of Armenia does not determine any state fees and charges);
  • lack of regular checks by the immigration authorities for compliance with the immigration rules by the foreign investor-employer;
  • Armenian employees and business owners are not required to have health insurance upon employment (with the exception of some licensed activities that require a medical examination and the provision of a health record).

However, in order to obtain a residence permit, and then citizenship for investments in Armenia, foreigners are required to undergo medical checkups.

Citizenship by investment in Armenia by creating employment: special professions

The legislation of Armenia provides a list of qualified professions and positions that may be occupied by foreigners without having to obtain a work permit. These include:

  • specialists or other persons arriving on the basis of international treaties of the Republic of Armenia;
  • teachers of foreign educational institutions who are invited to give lectures in educational institutions of the Republic of Armenia;
  • accredited representatives of foreign media.

Foreigners qualified under these categories do not need a work permit.

For a foreign businessman it is also important to take into account that in Armenia there are no professions that have shortage or established exceptions in the employment of non-residents.

 Citizenship by Investment in Armenia:  corporate immigration rules

The legislation of the Republic of Armenia clearly defines the categories of immigrants under which employees are permitted to obtain work permits on the basis of investments or through establishment of a subsidiary or corporate presence in Armenian jurisdiction. These include:

  • company founders;
  • directors or authorized representatives of commercial organizations with foreign capital;
  • employees of commercial organizations of a foreign state.

In all of the above cases, hired personnel (non-residents) receive a visa allowing them to reside in Armenia with the aim of working in representative offices of foreign companies. If the question relates to temporary employees or non-resident specialists holding a position in a foreign or local company, employees may be hired without permit. To this category belong:

  • foreign specialists arriving in Armenia for a period of not more than six months in order to train employees to use equipment;
  • technicians and engineers training personnel to install, repair, operate machinery and equipment;
  • employees of logistics companies and freight forwarding companies supplying machinery, machine tools and other equipment to a branch of a foreign company, or to a legal entity created by a non-resident in the Republic of Armenia;
  • students performing work as part of exchange programs or during the holidays, based on relevant agreements.

The process of obtaining a work permit in Armenia can last about 30-40 business days from the date of application. Registration of a residence permit lasts approximately 30 business days. 

 To fill the vacancy, the employer is required to contact the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia personally or by mail with a detailed description of their current standing.  Within five working days after receiving information provided by the employer, the controlling body, in the manner prescribed by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, enters the information into the employment database, compiles the data, and then refers the candidates (applicants) to the employer.

If an employee of a foreign company extends a residence permit, a new labor market test is not required.

Citizenship by investments in Armenia for non-resident with his own business in Armenia.

Previously, Armenian legislation did not provide for this type of residence permit – foreign investors could obtain a residence permit and permanent residence only when they reunited with their family, entered into marriage with a resident of Armenia, or after providing substantive evidence of Armenian origin. Today the situation has changed – foreigners receive citizenship by investments in Armenia for special services to the state, including for their contribution to the development of the economy.

In this case, the applicant for Armenian citizenship can bypass all sorts of red tape procedures and is referred to the Office of the President (the standard procedure involves visiting the police department for issuing visas, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and the Citizenship Committee).

In this case, the maximum period for obtaining a residence permit will be approximately 3-4 months; after a five-year permanent (at least 180 days a year) residence in Armenia, a foreign investor is entitled to apply for an Armenian passport.

Citizenship by investments in Armenia begins with obtaining a residence permit, after which all foreign persons are required to register in the passport and visa department of the RA Police. All non-residents with an official work permit and an Armenian residence permit enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations as in case with residents.

Citizenship by investment in Armenia: family relocation 

Every Armenian citizen, including a foreigner, who has received a second passport of the Republic of Armenia, has the right to submit documents for obtaining a residence permit for family members:

  • spouse (wife/husband);
  • minor children (under 18 years old);
  • elderly parents;
  • by other persons who are deemed dependents of the non-resident who has obtained citizenship of the Republic of Armenia.

The status of a permanent resident is granted to a foreigner if they:

  • prove the existence of close relatives (parent, spouse, brother, sister, child, etc.) in the Republic of Armenia;
  • possess apartment/house by ownership right and has established livelihoods in the Republic of Armenia to sustain themselves;
  • have lived in Armenia, in accordance with the law, for a minimum of three years before applying for permanent resident status.

The status of a permanent resident can also be granted to a foreigner of Armenian origin or to a foreigner carrying out entrepreneurial activities in the Republic of Armenia. All residence permits, without exception, can be extended up to 10 years.

A special status is assigned to a non-resident receiving a residence permit and permanent residence directly from the President of Armenia (for special contribution to the development of the state). In this case, the level of sustainability is considered sufficient if the foreign investor possesses adequate funds to cover the costs of own living and that of family members who are under guardianship or are the dependents of the foreign investor.

If you are interested in the opportunity to obtain Armenian citizenship by investment, please contact our lawyers by e-mail info@offshore-pro.info. Our specialists will guide you through the process of collecting and submitting all the required documents and will support you throughout the process of obtaining citizenship by investment in Armenia. 

To summarize some key benefits of Armenian citizenship: Armenia allows dual citizenship, has established a wide range of privileges and preferential terms for doing business on an international scale, as well as for traveling to many countries of the world. 

How to get Armenian citizenship by investment?

At the moment, the legislation of Armenia does not determine the specific amount of investments in order to apply for the citizenship of the republic. There is a general definition – “for special merits/services” to the country, which can be expressed in significant contributions to real estate, certain sectors of the economy, job creation. Also, foreigners can apply for Armenian citizenship for investments based on investments in stocks and government bonds. It should be noted that revolving investments are envisaged here, applications of applicants are considered in the office of the Prime Minister. An important advantage is bypassing the bureaucratic procedures at  the migration service.

What are the benefits of citizenship by investment if you need to hire foreign personnel?

If citizenship by investment is issued on the basis of jobs created in the republic, an employer positioned as such, enjoys significant privileges in attracting foreign personnel. All company founders, directors and executives, as well as employees of commercial organizations with foreign capital are permitted not to draw a work permit. Such a document is also not drawn for persons applying for work in logistics and transport companies, specialists in setting up and installing equipment, students as part of an exchange or for a vacation. You do not need a work permit if you are a member of the investor’s family and receive citizenship through family reunification.

What kind of specialists can be hired from abroad without a work permit?

If the employer hires foreign personnel to provide equipment set up, maintenance services, it has the right not to issue a permit for official employment. This right is also granted to foreigners visiting Armenia to work in the framework of journalistic and other public activities, in order to attend events (conferences, business meetings and forums), diplomats and their family members. A work permit is not issued when attracting foreign employees in the field of IT and innovation, as well as when supplying equipment, electronic systems to the territory of Armenia. All specialists hired on the basis of a short-term contract do not require a work permit.

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