Kazakhstan: Work Permit process to be simplified; exemption for heads of branches to be eliminated

On or after January 1, 2017, Work Permit and Intra-company Transferee (ICT) Work Permit applicants will be subject to a simplified work authorisation process, including the removal of the labour market test and bank deposit requirements, among other simplifications.

However, heads of branches and representative offices of foreign entities in Kazakhstan will no longer be exempt from the Work Permit requirement, and it is unclear whether a grace period will be introduced for those who will now require a Work Permit.

Process Details

Changes to the Work Permit process will include:

  • Removal of the labour market test requirement;

  • Removal of the bank deposit requirement;

  • Removal of the Special Conditions requirement for local hires;

  • Removal of the cap for Work Permit renewals for category 1 employees (e.g. directors, managers, heads of branches, etc.);

  • An increase of the permissible number of Work Permit extensions for category 2 and 3 employees (e.g. specialists and highly-qualified personnel);

  • Reinstatement of the three-year maximum term for ICT Work Permit holders and a new cap of one permissible extension for up to an additional three years;

  • Change of local-to-foreign Personnel Ratio for ICT Work Permit applications;

  • The introduction of a governmental fee for local hires; and

  • Applications will be submitted to the Public Service Center instead of the Department of Employment and Social Programs, which should create a simplified and more centralised application submission process.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Companies sponsoring Work Permit and ICT Work Permit applications and their foreign employees should benefit from the reduced administrative hurdles, but Work Permit applicants should be prepared to pay the new governmental fee.

Companies employing foreign nationals as heads of branches or representative offices of foreign legal entities in Kazakhstan should be prepared for the new Work Permit requirement in light of the removal of Work Permit exemption. It remains unclear whether there will be a grace period and clients should contact their immigration professional for a case-by-case assessment.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK