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Expating to Ukraine–What Can You Do?

It’s a bummer to find a country you love, and then be unable to stay in said country. There’s a reason that expating to Ukraine is becoming such a desire amongst expats.

Maybe you found love, maybe you love the cuisine–or maybe it’s a country that just jives with your personality. In any case, visas, red tape, and general paperwork hassle can put a real damper on an expat’s dreams.

Expating to Ukraine seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult on paper. However, the language barrier, general lack of helpful culture, and the archaic computer systems make it more difficult than it should be. You see, Ukraine wants expats in their country. It helps bolster their economy to have Westerners spending money in the country.

expating to Ukraine

It’s far, far easier to break the rules of overstaying in Ukraine than it is for a country that is a member of the Schengen Zone. If you overstay too long in the Schengen area, in the wrong country, you might be looking at fines in the thousands of dollars. Not to mention the big fat RED X in your passport (potentially).

Sure, you can get visas for some of the Schengen countries “relatively” easily–I’m looking at you Italy and Ireland. However, this requires months (if not years) of paperwork, interviews at embassies, and a lot of work. However, no matter where you are in the process with this you cannot overstay your normal visa.

Big no-no.

On the other hand, Ukraine will ask you to pay $35 bucks and send you on your way.

But, is there a more legal way to do it? 

Say you want to start your expating to Ukraine journey, and want to do it the right way. You want to be able to stay as long as you want. No worries about timing your visits, border runs, or any of the other hassles of overstaying.

What can you do?

Options on Expating to Ukraineulwidgetud

Get Married

It’s definitely not ideal, and you shouldn’t rush into it. But frankly, the easiest way to get a more permanent residence in Ukraine is probably to get married.

Even if you don’t necessarily have a girl you’re dating–it probably wouldn’t be hard to just pay a girl to marry you, on paper. You can always divorce later. Just make sure you have the right lawyers involved.

And, if you are dating a girl you like–well, then that’s an obvious choice. Again though, don’t be stupid about it. Talk to a lawyer and make sure your protection is iron clad. This doesn’t just apply to marriage in Ukraine. But that’s a story for another day 🙂

“Invest In The Economy”

When I was attempting to stay longer term in Ukraine (early 2016), I went with a girl to some shady office out in the far districts of Kiev. The goal was to simply get the right paperwork done so I could extend my visa. I had all the paperwork from my apartment rental and everything.

We got there, and after much run-around, were finally told that it wasn’t possible.

I was told I needed to invest $100,000 in the Ukrainian economy.

What the “economy” entailed, I really have no idea. That was enough for me to walk out of there. There is no way I would put my hard-earned money into the hands of a country that routinely has banks close and takes the money.

People in Ukraine don’t even keep money in a bank–that’s how common this is.

expating to Ukraine

…Just Overstay

😉

It seems to be the easiest thing, frankly. It’s more or less their “wink-wink, we want you here” policy. Like I said earlier, Ukraine wants you in the country. It only helps them.

Here’s how easy it was the last time I left Ukraine:

  • Paid the 895 UAH fine.
  • Took an hour and a half.
  • Had a native girl with me, which sped it up a lot (and it was still kinda close).

Full rundown:

  • You head to passport control. They look at it. See you overstayed. Stop you.
  • Take you to a side room. Take passport from you.
  • Take ages to print out one damn paper.
  • Take said paper down to banks on the first floor.
  • Pray they aren’t on break and are willing to help you.
  • Pay fine.
  • Go back upstairs and through security (again). Cut a lot of angry people if necessary.
  • Go collect passport and turn in receipt showing you paid the fine.
  • Go through passport control (again).

It’s a reasonable assessment that most people who are expating to Ukraine probably have their own, location-independent business. It doesn’t make financial sense to move to Ukraine to work (unless it’s for an American company–and in that case, they’ll be getting you a work visa).

Even without any type of visa, you can still spend six months a year in Ukraine. If you overstay, you can stretch that way more. Plus, do you really want to spend February in Ukraine?

Food for thought.

‘Til next time,

Ukraine Living

PS: Here is a free guide to Kiev.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
Ukrainian lawyer

“I was told I needed to invest $100,000 in the Ukrainian economy.”

Well, that’s definitely a scam. An investment (setting up a company, buying property, etc.) of 50 000 USD in the Ukrainian economy will get you a short-term visa (still 90 days per entry), but you can get a multi-entry for up to 5 years.

Another option is to set up a company (LLC or ТОВ in Ukrainian), pay yourself a miminal wage, and get an employment visa. But in this case, you will get a lot of paperwork and the IRS will be looking into your activities as well (FATCA).

There is also Student visa. Get enrolled into Ukrainian language class, and you will get a visa. If you are enrolled to a mediocre institution, they won’t really bother if you attending classes or not (though, depends). As long as you pay your tuition fees, everyone will be happy.

All in all, it’s better to get advice from a Ukrainian law firm.

Reply
    Ukraine Living

    Until they remove the fact that you can stay as long as you want for basically 895uah, it makes no sense to deal with all of the hassle of this.

    Though I wouldn’t be opposed to doing the language as a mean of studying Russian anyway.

    Reply
      Ukrainian lawyer

      There is no such thing as ‘you can stay as long as you want for basically 895uah’.

      895 UAH is the fine for an administrative offense for overstaying. Usually, Ukrainian police and border guards are quite easy going when it comes to the first offense. They can either give a warning or a fine. However, if you do it once or twice, they have a right to ban you from entering to Ukraine (Article 14 of this law: http://zakon5.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1710-17/print1481098431649987 And on top of that – fine you again.

      In other words, there is a red flag of being refused from entering Ukraine.

      Reply
        Ukraine Living

        And how many documented cases are there of this actually happening?

        I’ve had a friend do it 5 times in the last two years, no issues.

        Should be noted too that he’s Canadian. I doubt Ukraine would be as nice to people from Syria.

        Also, as you live in Ukraine and are a lawyer—you probably know that legal documents aren’t exactly black and white 🙂

        Reply
          Ukrainian lawyer

          There is no open database on whom Ukraine denied entry, so I can’t bring any real cases.

          My point is simple – tell how the law is and what are the risks. The law gives a border officer a discretion, and there is a chance that a border officer might not like someone overstaying (irrespective of the nationality) and will deny entry.

          Reply
          Ukraine Living

          Laws are not supposed to be open for interpretation, is the thing 🙂

          Reply
Russian Lawyer

Hello guys,

It might sound strange but I am an American studying Russian law in Moscow. Ukrainian law is quite similar. Ukrainian Living, the whole point of law is that they are up for interpretation especially in the US, Canada, or UK for instance. The thing in Russia or Ukraine is that you never know when your breaking of the law will catch up to you. The fact that it isn’t enforced all the time doesn’t mean they will not enforce it in the future.

If you are really serious about staying in Ukraine, I would highly recommend you follow the law, it’s not a place you want to be caught on the wrong side of the law.

If you are thinking about staying there long term, I highly recommend opening your own company. This should not cause any issues with the IRS unless you are holding more than USD 10k in any accounts in your name. Anyway, I’m happy to provide advice if needed.

Reply
    Ukraine Living

    Not strange at all – sounds pretty damn interesting if you ask me.

    I agree with you, for the record. It’s the Wild West out there. I wouldn’t want to play with fire forever, that’s for sure. At the same time I’ve known people doing this so long it seems there is no end in sight to it.

    (And for the record Russia is vastly more strict, right?)

    Great comment, but I’m fairly certain you need a decent amount of cash to open that business in Ukraine. Or perhaps I’m getting it mixed up with the whole “invest 100k in our economy and you can stay” deal.

    Reply

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