Feb 3, 2020

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:

1 Albania All types of passports
2 Argentine Republic All types of passports
3 Austria Diplomatic passports only
4 Azerbaijan All types of passports
5 Belarus All types of passports
6 Kingdom of Belgium Diplomatic passports only
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina Diplomatic passports only
8 Federal Republic of Brazil All types of passports
9 Bulgaria Diplomatic passports only
10 People’s Republic of China Diplomatic and Service passports only
11 Croatia Diplomatic and Service passports only
12 Cyprus Diplomatic and Service passports only
13 Czech Republic Diplomatic passports only
14 Arabian Republic of Egypt Diplomatic, Official and Service passports only
15 Estonia Diplomatic passports only
16 Finland Diplomatic passports only
17 French Republic Diplomatic passports only
18 Georgia All types of passports
19 Federal Republic of Germany Diplomatic passports only
20 Greece Diplomatic passports only
21 Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China) All types of passports
22 Hungary Diplomatic and Service passports only
23 India Diplomatic passports only
24 Indonesia Diplomatic and Service passports only
25 Islamic Republic of Iran All types of passports
26 Republic of Italy Diplomatic passports only
27 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Diplomatic passports only
28 Kazakhstan All types of passports
29 Korea Diplomatic and Service passports only
30 State of Kuwait Diplomatic and Service passports only
31 Kyrgiz Republic All types of passports
32 Latvia Diplomatic and Service passports only
33 Lebanese Republic Diplomatic, Service and Special passports only
34 Lithuania Diplomatic passports only
35 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Diplomatic passports only
36 Macao (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China) All types of passports
37 Malta Diplomatic passports only
38 Mexican United States Diplomatic and Service passports only
39 Moldova All types of passports
40 Mongolia Diplomatic and official passports only
41 Montenegro Diplomatic and Service passports only
42 Kingdom of Netherlands Diplomatic passports only
43 Kingdom of Norway Diplomatic passports only
44 Philippines Diplomatic and Service passports only
45 Poland Diplomatic passports only
46 Portugal Diplomatic passports only
47 Romania Diplomatic and Service passports only
48 Russian Federation All types of passports
49 Serbian Republic Diplomatic and Service passports only
50 Singapore Diplomatic and Service passports only
51 Slovak Republic Diplomatic and Service passports only
52 Slovenia Diplomatic passports only
53 Kingdom of Spain Diplomatic passports only
54 Kingdom of Sweden Diplomatic passports only
55 Swiss Confederation Diplomatic passports only
56 Arabian Republic of Syria Diplomatic, Official and Service passports only
57 Tajikistan All types of passports
58 Turkmenistan Diplomatic and Service passports only
59 Ukraine All types of passports
60 United Arab Emirates Diplomatic passports only
61 Eastern Republic of Uruguay All types of passports
62 Uzbekistan All types of passports
63 Socialist Republic of Vietnam Diplomatic 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.