Granting a Residence Permit on the Basis of Running a Business in Armenia
Can a person obtain a residence permit based on the fact that he or she is running a business in Armenia?
The Law of the Republic of Armenia “On Foreigners” sets out several grounds for obtaining a residence permit in Armenia. Running a business in Armenia is one of those grounds. It should be noted that running a business can qualify a person for the acquisition of both temporary and permanent residence permits (see Article 15 § 1 (e) of the RA law “On Foreigners”).
Does a foreigner need a residence permit to start a business in Armenia?
No. It is not required to have a residence permit in order to start a business. On the contrary, residence permit is issued, among other grounds, to people who are already running a business.
What should one do in order to start a business?
Civil Code of the RA (Article 26) sets out several options:
-establishing commercial organizations or holding shares in such organizations,
-registering as a sole proprietor,
-in some limited cases even without registration.
Organizations and entrepreneurs are registered by the State Register Agency of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia.
How can the applicant demonstrate that he or she is running a business?
In order to prove the fact that the applicant is running a business he or she can submit to the Passport and Visa Department documents pertaining to the registration of a commercial organization or a sole proprietorship (e.g. certificate of registration, charter of the organization). However, these documents may not be sufficient to prove that the person in fact is engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Therefore, the applicant may submit other documents (such as tax reports, contracts, receipts etc.).
What is the difference between temporary and permanent residence permits?
The main difference is in the term by which these two types of residence permits are granted. Temporary residence permit is issued for a 1 year term while the permanent one is issued for a 5 year term (in both cases with a possibility of extension). The grounds for obtaining residence permits are also different for each case although running a business can qualifies a person for both temporary and permanent residency.
Besides, while the state duty collected for the issuance of a temporary residence permit is AMD 105 000, the amount to be paid for permanent residency is AMD 140 000.
What documents are to be submitted for obtaining temporary or permanent residence permits?
The documents to be submitted are listed in the government decree no. 134-N of 17 February 2008, according to which the person should submit to the Passport and Visa Department the following document:
2) three 35 x 45 mm color photos,
3) passport, copy of the passport and the notarized translation of the passport in Armenian,
4) documents attesting the existence of grounds for obtaining (extending) a residence permit (i.e. documents showing that the person is running a business),
5) health certificate,
6) receipt for the payment of the state duty (AMD 105 000 or AMD 140 000).
How long does it take to get the result of the application?
The decision on the application is made within 30 days after lodging it with the Passport and Visa Department (see Article 17 § 3 of the RA law “On Foreigners”).
Within that period the Passport and Visa Department reviews the submitted documents and makes a decision on issuing a residence permit or rejecting the application.
Within the same period the Passport and Visa Department can take measures in order to verify if the applicant in fact is running a business. For that purpose, the Passport and Visa Department can collect information by sending inquiries to government agencies and other organizations.
How can the term of the residence permit be extended?
To have the term of residence permit extended foreigners must submit a new application to the Passport and Visa Department. The application should be submitted at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of the existing residence permit (see Article 15 § 2 and Article 16 § 2 of the RA law “On Foreigners”).
It should be noted that it is not required to submit the notarized translation of the passport in Armenian since it had been submitted as an attachment to the initial application.
It should also be noted that the submission of the notarized translation of the passport is not required when applying for a permanent residency, even though that exception is not expressly mentioned regarding the application process for permanent residency. This exception stems from the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On the Fundamentals of Administration and Administrative Procedure”.
In particular, according to Article 5 of the above-mentioned law, if the obligations of persons are fulfilled in substance, then administrative bodies shall be prohibited from burdening persons with obligations or refusing to grant rights on purely formal grounds.
According to Article 9 § 1, administrative bodies do not have the right to compel persons to carry out actions that these persons have already carried out while carrying out other actions or whose substance has been included or could be included in those other actions.
These principles mean that if the person has submitted certain documents to a particular administrative body, that person does not have to resubmit the same documents in the future in relation to new administrative proceedings. This rule does not, however, absolve the person from the requirement to resubmit such documents as are necessary to prove facts that can change over time (e.g. health certificate).
What are the consequences of staying in the territory of the Republic of Armenia after the expiry of the term of the residence permit?
If the person does not leave the territory of the Republic of Armenia voluntarily after the expiry of the term of residence permit, the Passport and Visa Department can submit a claim to the Administrative Court demanding his or her expulsion. The Administrative Court decides either to grant the claim on expulsion or to reject it.
It should be noted that expulsion from the territory of Armenia is a basis for refusing the issuance of a visa or residence status in the future.
Apart from that, the person can be served with an administrative penalty in the amount of 50 000-100 000 AMD (Article 201 § 1 Code of the Republic of Armenia on Administrative Offences). Failure to pay the penalty can also serve as a basis for refusing the issuance of a visa or residence status in the future.