What has been done in 6 years at the Migration Service of Ukraine

Maxim Sokolyuk, who would be the head of the State Migration Service in Ukraine, is leaving his post. In connection with the change in the head of the Migration Service, changes in the employees of the Migration Service will follow, and it is possible that the path that Ukraine follows in migration policy will be corrected. Maxim Sokolyuk has been at the head of the state structure for more than 6 years, which were eventful in events, serous achievements and challenges.

#UIP specialists have compiled a summary of the events that took place in the Migration Policy, both internal and external over the past years. The first and one of the most significant events is the introduction of biometric passports, which are now actively used and facilitate travel not only for Ukrainians, but also for foreigners.

As of 2015, Ukraine did not have a separate electronic system for registering citizens who are in different countries of the world and thus it was more difficult to provide assistance and keep records. At the moment, Ukraine has such a system, it is the Unified State Demographic Register. But even in very technically developed countries, such resources have been created or reformed over many years, even decades, and we were able to do this in a couple of years and put them into action. Now the Register contains information about more than 24 million citizens. And this figure is constantly growing – by about 17-18 thousand every day.

Thus, in 2015, Ukraine began to issue biometric foreign passports, and in 2016 – passports in the form of an ID-card, which can also be used to travel abroad. On the website of the State Migration Service, there is an online board, where you can see that the board of issued biometric passports is updated almost every second – now their total number already exceeds 24 million.

Since 2015, the rating of the Ukrainian passport has grown by 23 positions, and this is indisputable proof of compliance with the highest international standards. According to the Passport Index from Henley & Partners, in April 2021 our passport was ranked 35th out of 110. Today, the new type of international passport allows Ukrainian citizens to visit almost 140 countries of the world without a visa or with a visa upon arrival, which greatly facilitates travel.

Now Ukrainians have the opportunity to travel to visa-free EU countries, and in the not too distant future, I hope they will visit Korea, China, Great Britain and possibly even the United States. Such negotiations are already being actively pursued in political circles.

The “internal” passport (ID-card) is also respected, recognizing its high standards, reliability and security. This is confirmed by the opportunity to visit Turkey and Georgia with an ID-card, without presenting a passport. In the near future, travelers to Moldova and some other countries will have such an opportunity.

The big challenge, as for many, was the COVID-19 pandemic. But the government agency coped with it and ensured the smooth operation of the units even during the lockdown. Citizens of Ukraine have the opportunity to issue passport documents where it is convenient for them – without reference to the place of registration. You can get a ready-made ID-card at the place of stay by submitting a personal application.

The most important changes that have taken place in 6 years:

Electronic services:

– in fact, “from scratch” developed and implemented 16 electronic VHI services and two chat bots in messengers;

– the introduction of the “Electronic queue” system finally helped to solve the problem of queues;

– Service “Checking Invalid Documents” helps citizens, notaries, banking and financial institutions to avoid fraudulent schemes using documents that have been declared invalid;

– it became possible online to check the status of the production of documents, find out the payment details, correct transliteration, calculate the allowed period of stay, evaluate the work of the unit, complain or report the fact of corruption, and much more.

Expansion of the ID-card functionality:

  • in the Migration Service it is possible to obtain and enter on the chip of the ID-card a qualified electronic signature;
  • e-passports appeared in the “Action” application, which now have the same legal force with their physical counterparts – RFP and ID;
  • “ID-14” service was introduced – simultaneous issuance of an ID-card and a tax number when issuing a passport for the first time.

Working with foreigners:

  • registration of biometric residence permits has been introduced – currently there are more than 250,000 permits and more than 80,000 – for permanent residence;
  • thanks to active work to combat illegal migration, VHI workers in 2015-2021 found and prosecuted 52,970 foreign violators, and many “thieves in law” were deprived of their Ukrainian passports and illegally obtained citizenship;
  • I consider the legislative settlement of issues on the status of a stateless person a great victory for the Migration Service and our partners, because this is connected with the right of people to legally reside on the territory of Ukraine and have real social guarantees;
  • a lot of work was done in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which allowed us to introduce new IT components and modernize our work in many areas.

The international cooperation:

  • in cooperation with the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration and our partners from other countries, we managed to implement a significant number of important international assistance projects for the VHI, the most significant of which was the almost five-year project “Support to the management of migration and asylum in Ukraine”.
  • bilateral agreements on cooperation were signed with the competent authorities of Switzerland, Lithuania, Finland, the International Center for Migration Development (ICMPD), and in the near future such agreements are expected to be signed with representatives of Azerbaijan and Vietnam;
  • a lot of issues were discussed with representatives of the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Korea, concerning the visa regime.

Consequently, the process of establishing and developing mutually beneficial international contacts has been launched and, I am convinced, it will continue.

 

And a few more facts:

– new photography standards have been introduced, in which, in accordance with general international norms, the religious and confessional traditions of visitors are taken into account – we have been working in this direction for a whole year and, as a result, have received the best result in the world.

– together with the Ministry of Digital Policy and local communities, registration of residence was introduced exclusively in electronic format using the Register of Territorial Communities, which is maintained by the Migration Service. This is another step towards the introduction of online registration of place of residence in “ACTION” and the rejection of such annoying Ukrainian paper certificates;

– In 2019, for the first time, the Migration Service received 24 new official vehicles, which were urgently needed to solve operational problems;

– they digitized paper files and almost completely abandoned paper document circulation – in correspondence with other authorities, internal correspondence and when interacting with citizens;

– thanks to the cooperation of the VHI with local authorities, about 500 jobs for issuing ID-cards and foreign passports have been installed more than 200 TsNAP;

– during 2015-2021, local budgets were replenished with almost 5.2 billion. UAH. – due to the receipt of funds from the provision of administrative services to the VHI;

– the average salary of employees of the Migration Service has tripled since 2017 – from 4 to 12,000 hryvnia.

For 6 years of “command” Maxim Sokolyuk has done a tremendous job together with his team, starting from the very beginning is always harder, but thanks to their work, we have a result that works.

The Immigration Law Office was established in 2007. It provides assistance to foreign clients in Kiev (KV), Odessa (OD), Dnipro (DP), Lviv (LV), Kharkiv (KH), Lugansk (LG) and Donetsk (DN) regions, Crimea (KR) and others regions of Ukraine.

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