Labor permits for migrant workers

February 19. Kazpravda

By Olga Semenova

Labor permits for migrant workersIllegal migrant workers pose serious challenges to any country and Kazakhstan is no exception. In an interview to Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, deputy Interior Minister, police major-general Yerlan Turgumbaev talks in this respect on changes in immigration laws that will help repair the situation.

– In May 2011, the President ordered to legalize the labor migrants’ work in Kazakhstan. What necessitated this measure?

– The measure is purposed to bring out of the shadows the migrants, working in violation of the rules, to improve as a result the migration control, to protect the migrants’ social and labor rights in Kazakhstan and make their income and taxes transparent.

This measure is particularly relevant with the intensified migration processes in our country.

According to expert estimates, annually 200-300 thousand foreigners, mostly citizens of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, work illegally in Kazakhstan. Unable to specify the real purpose of the arrival at registration, they indicate it as private business, along with the address, where they did not in fact live. Naturally, it makes control of their stay difficult.

– It is believed that illegal immigration has a negative impact on the crime situation.

– It does. Every year about two thousand crimes are committed in Kazakhstan by foreigners, mainly thefts and drug offenses. From now on, fingerprinting and photographing database will be formed on migrant workers in the process of issuing permits to them. It is an important crime preventing and crime disclosing measure.

Every year, police tracks down 80 to 100 thousand foreigners breaking the immigration laws, of which about three thousand are expelled from the country with denial of entry for the next five years. Most of the violations are related to the work without obtaining the necessary permits. At the same time, working against the law, migrant workers themselves are often the target of criminal encroachments.

Besides, the lack of control created favorable conditions for corruption. And what’s more, migrants did not pay taxes, which entailed huge cash outflows from the country.

To address the situation, a corresponding bill of amendments on labor migration was developed, factoring in the international practice in the area, of which that of Russia turned out to be mostly applicable to our conditions.

In Russia labor permits are issued since 2010 by the Federal Migration Service, and a migrant worker pays one thousand rubles for each month of work. We suited this model to our conditions, in particular, re-introducing a one-off legalization of migrant workers, which was practiced in Kazakhstan in 2006. Back then about 165,000 of them were brought out of the shadow sector, mostly citizens of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

– How are the work permits obtained?

– They will be issued to citizens of countries with which Kazakhstan has agreements on visa-free entry and a 3-month stay. These are citizens of all the CIS, except Turkmenistan (they must apply for a visa).

Permits are applicable only for the work for individuals’ personal needs: apartment makeovers, construction of a house, babysitting, work as a gardener, a cook, but not for businessmen.

One individual may hire no more than five labor immigrants. But this mechanism may not be used for legalization of foreigners working illicitly in construction, trade, services and so on. The Code of Administrative Offences is supplemented by a provision on liability of the employer for hiring labor migrants without proper authorization or for employment contracts with more than five labor migrants.

Initially the permit is issued for one to three months, then it can be prolonged several times, but for a term not exceeding one year. After it the worker must leave Kazakhstan, then make a new permit not earlier than one month after the expiry of the previous one.

– What happens if a worker earns a bigger sum than that for which the tax was pre-paid?

– In this case he fills out an income declaration at the tax authority and pays the required balance.

– Any more regulations in the area?

– On 3 February this year, the Prime Minister signed a decree approving the list of regulations, required for the implementation of this law.

In accordance with the MIA decree of February 8, rules were approved for issuance, renewal and revocation of the authorization of labor immigrants, the procedure for registration. After registration of the rules in the Justice Ministry, permits issuance will be started.

According to preliminary estimates, at the initial stage 100 to 300 thousand labor migrants are to be legalized, which will bring tax receipts of 4.5 to 12 billion tenge a year to the budget.

The new law will not lead to an influx of migrant workers into the country. Foreigners, who are to be legalized, are already in Kazakhstan.