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14 Nov. 2023

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All about residence and acquisition of citizenship by a foreigner in Ukraine after or during service in the AFU

For foreigners in UA
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All about residence and acquisition of citizenship by a foreigner in Ukraine after or during service in the AFU

Foreigners who have signed a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a legal right to stay in Ukraine. However, a number of conditions must be met in order to obtain a residence permit or to acquire Ukrainian citizenship. Find out all about the right to reside/acquire Ukrainian citizenship during service and after completion of a contract with the AFU

Order a legal consultation on entering Ukraine during the war
Order a legal consultation on entering Ukraine during the war
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In accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On Military Duty and Military Service", foreign nationals may be enlisted for military service. Thus, in accordance with the Regulations on Military Service in the Armed Forces, approved by Presidential Decree No. 248/16 of June 10, 2016, citizens of other states and stateless persons who are legally residing in Ukraine may be enlisted for military service under a contract.


To apply for membership in the International Legion, please visit https://ildu.com.ua/.


Please note! Presidential Decree No. 82/2022 dated 28.02.2022 "On the Temporary Introduction of a Visa-Free Regime" provides for the introduction of a visa-free regime for foreigners seeking to perform military service under a contract, except for citizens of the aggressor country, starting from March 1, 2022. However, this does not exempt from the need to obtain a transit visa through the EU or other countries, if it is provided for by the rules of the foreigner's country of origin.


Read more about the current rules for entering Ukraine, the documents required to cross the border, visa rules and restrictions here.


Foreigners in the AFU: the right to stay in Ukraine and obtain a residence permit


According to Ukrainian law, foreign citizens/stateless persons who have signed a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and participate in the defense of the state have the right to stay in Ukraine legally. The contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine/military ID is the basis for legal long-term stay in Ukraine, and for this purpose, the above-mentioned foreigners must have a valid passport of the country of their citizenship or other identity document (ID). 


In other words, foreigners who have entered into a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not need to obtain an additional residence permit in Ukraine, and their period of stay in Ukraine is determined by the duration of the contract.


It should be noted that the contract can be automatically extended or terminated at the request of the serviceman. However, the contract cannot be terminated during combat deployment.


To stay in Ukraine after the expiration of the contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, a foreigner must have legal grounds determined by the norms of migration legislation. Thus, if a foreigner has the relevant documents and grounds, he or she will be able to obtain an immigration permit. And after the relevant decision is made, the applicant will receive a permanent residence permit in Ukraine.


If a foreign military serviceman continues to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has a state award, or a recommendation from a certain body, such as the Ministry of Defense, he will be able to obtain Ukrainian citizenship under a simplified procedure.


At the same time, Ukrainian legislation stipulates that foreign citizens/stateless persons who provide instructional assistance (as defined in Article 4, paragraph 20 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons") are entitled to a residence permit in Ukraine. The procedure for obtaining it is determined by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of April 25, 2018, No. 322 and is carried out at the request of the unit commander or the submission of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.


If you need legal assistance or full support on the issues of entering Ukraine, the rules of border crossing and the necessary documents, and the rules of staying in the country, you can order a consultation with a qualified lawyer on migration issues on the Visit Ukraine website. Our experienced specialists can help you with any questions regarding entry and stay in Ukraine, as well as collecting the necessary documents.




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Can a foreign serviceman in the AFU become a citizen of Ukraine?


Service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is a path to citizenship. Thus, in accordance with Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine "On Citizenship of Ukraine", a foreigner or stateless person may be admitted to Ukrainian citizenship upon their application. 


The conditions for admission to Ukrainian citizenship are (simultaneously fulfilled)*:


1. Recognition and observance of the Constitution of Ukraine and laws of Ukraine.

2. Submission of a declaration on the absence of foreign citizenship (for stateless persons) or an obligation to terminate foreign citizenship (for foreigners).

3. Continuous legal residence on the territory of Ukraine for the last five years, except for persons who:

- have been married to a citizen of Ukraine for more than 2 years;

 - Persons who have been married to a citizen of Ukraine for more than 2 years, which was terminated due to his/her death;

- persons recognized as refugees;

- persons performing military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under a contract;

- persons performing military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under a contract and awarded a state award;

- persons who have outstanding services to Ukraine;

- persons whose admission to the citizenship of Ukraine is of state interest to Ukraine;

- persons who have been granted a temporary residence permit in accordance with part 20 of Article 4 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons").

4. Obtaining an immigration permit, except for persons who:

- perform military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under a contract;

- persons who are performing military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under a contract and have been awarded a state award;

- persons who have outstanding services to Ukraine;

- persons whose admission to the citizenship of Ukraine is of state interest to Ukraine;

 - persons who have been granted a temporary residence permit in accordance with part 20 of Article 4 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons".

 5. Proficiency in the state language in accordance with the level established by the legislation of Ukraine - confirmed by a certificate of proficiency in the state language issued by the National Commission for State Language Standards based on the results of the exam, except for persons who have outstanding services to Ukraine or persons whose admission to Ukrainian citizenship is of state interest to Ukraine and persons who have received a temporary residence permit in accordance with part 20 of Article 4 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons");

6. Availability of legal sources of subsistence, except:

- persons recognized as refugees;

- persons who are performing military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine under a contract and have been awarded a state award;

- persons who have outstanding services to Ukraine;

- persons whose admission to the citizenship of Ukraine is of state interest to Ukraine;

 - persons who have been granted a temporary residence permit in accordance with Article 4(20) of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons".


At the same time, there are several legislative initiatives to streamline the process of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship by verified foreign veterans.


We remind you! Every month, a large number of foreigners apply to join the Foreign Legion. However, despite the fact that the admission procedure has been simplified, foreigners continue to face a number of problems. Read how to avoid common difficulties and what are the most common reasons for rejection in our previous article.


Photo: RBK-Ukraine


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