This is a true, factual, and accurate description of how I obtained temporary residence in Ukraine
Hello and congratulations on your decision to get Ukrainian residence. I will explain in detail the necessary steps to complete the process. I am American and live in Kyiv, so I understand this process, what to do, and what not to do.
To begin, you will contact attorneys who specialize in foreigners moving to Ukraine, the migration process, and tedious paperwork. If you choose to do this yourself, that may be a big mistake. You will be applying for residence in Eastern Europe and there is a complex process that must be done in order.
I was in Ukraine for business purposes on 90 day tourist visa with a US passport and decided to get residency in Ukraine
At the time I was going through this process, I was Chief Strategy Officer of a very fast-growing digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles. We went from 6 employees to 120+ employees in less than 18 months and I was in Ukraine for business and tourism purposes (mostly business) because we had a large team of developers and technical SEOs in Kyiv, Lviv, small cities in Western Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe. In review of options for expanding operations to Ukraine, I searched for attorneys who could handle everything related to my requirements and needs for business related question.
Do not attempt to do the application and paperwork yourself
Hiring attorneys who specialize in the process and the paperwork is the way to do this. If you do choose to do the paperwork yourself without Ukrainian legal help, good luck, and when you have a problem, remember “I told you so.”
Finding a respectable attorney in Ukraine to get residency can be difficult
For a 3-day time-frame, I contacted at least five attorneys in Kyiv to help me get a temporary residence permit application started. I was frustrated and all hope of staying in Ukraine was leaving me at this point because most people and attorneys I talked to about obtaining residence were full of $*&%.
If you are American or from a western country, you need to be very careful when doing business in Ukraine.
All attorneys that were contacted did not, would not, or could not help (most wanted unrealistic amounts of money because they knew they were getting paid in American dollars). Many said the process will take 3 to 6 months (this is simply not true, it’s much faster for a temporary residence permit). In Ukraine, specifically Kyiv, it’s a shakedown for money 24/7 if you’re from America. Attorneys will say, “3 to 6 months for residence card,” hoping that you will pay them another couple hundred bucks to make it go faster. Don’t fall for it.
I finally found migration attorneys to help with Ukraine residence permit
Luckily after 3 full days of searching, I found very reliable and trustworthy attorneys to work with and they moved very fast in the process.
On a Thursday I contacted a phone number, arranged a meeting near close of business that day. I paid the first fee and gathered necessary paperwork for them to get started after I signed the contract for them to help me and allowed them power-of-attorney during the process.
The attorneys move very fast with paperwork
On Friday I went back to their office after getting the four image head-shots from a local passport photo office in Kyiv, as well as other remaining paperwork they would need to complete the application on my behalf. I paid the attorneys the remaining balance and they told me to come back Monday afternoon and the paperwork would be completed and ready to go to next step in the process of obtaining residence in Ukraine.
The next Monday, 3 business days after I first contacted the immigration attorneys in Kyiv, I met them at their office again for the 3rd time, and signed the application and asked for next steps.
3 business days after first meeting with attorneys, I was booked on a flight to Minsk
To my surprise, they instructed me to book a flight to Minsk, Belarus asap because my Visa D appointment at the Ukrainian Embassy in Minsk was setup for 0900 the next morning, Tuesday. At this time, it was Monday at 1400 and I left their office to look for flights to Minsk from Kyiv. By 1800, I had tickets to Minsk booked and all of necessary paperwork the attorneys asked me to gather and prepare.
At 0300 on Tuesday morning, I took a taxi to Boryspil airport and waited to board the plane to Minsk (my appointment at the Ukrainian Embassy in Minsk was in 6 hours from the time I got in the taxi to go to airport…the attorneys move very fast.
This may be one of the most important pro-tips I can provide you as you go through this process…
You are required to show proof of ability to support yourself while on a 90 day Visa D. Print out your bank statements that show proof of your ability to be self-supporting while in Ukraine on 90 day Visa D awaiting your residency permit approval.
It’s always best to over-produce so you may want to consider printing the past 3 months of bank statements that show your incoming cash-flow, not the entire credit and debit ledger, just the summary page.
Going through international customs at Boryspil
While going through airport security at Boryspil, when the Ukraine customs agents looked at my passport, plane tickets, and destination, they spent 10 minutes scrutinizing at my passport very closely with a magnifying loupe (the type of loupe jewelers examine diamonds with) looking for imperfections.
I had no checked luggage and only my backpack with my laptop, toothbrush, paperwork, and other hygiene essentials, so it set off red flags that I was leaving Ukraine to go to Belarus without checked luggage after already having re-entry to Ukraine twice; once from Warsaw, Poland via Varna, Bulgaria and once from Amsterdam, Netherlands.
My advice, while going through airport security leaving the country, is to never show frustration or negative emotion, do not laugh, do not smile, do not say anything until spoken to and answer directly, with short and concise answers. This is not a game and the customs agents (military) are not playing around so act accordingly.
At Boryspil while waiting to board the plane to Minsk
While in the airport waiting for the bus to go to plane on tarmac, I booked a hotel to sleep for a couple hours because I was working US Pacific hours and had not slept for 20 hours at this point in time. It was after 0400 and I had a room booked at the hotel in Minsk, 400 meters from the Ukrainian Embassy.
When they call boarding for the plane, line up quietly, be patient and answer any questions about your passport, destination, and reason for leaving in a very calm and concise manner; short answers. You will find that many airport employees in Ukraine speak English.
Minsk, Belarus is where I went. Listen carefully to the attorneys and do exactly what they tell you to do. From the moment you are waiting to board the plane, on the tarmac bus traveling to the plane, waiting in line to get on the plane, and walking to your seat, stay quiet and focus on the appointment at the embassy.
Arrival at Minsk International Airport
The flight from Kyiv to Minsk is about 55 minutes, so there’s not much time to sleep. De-board the plane upon arrival, get on the tarmac bus and arrive at Minsk International Airport customs.
After going through customs, which will be much like leaving Ukraine regarding scrutiny of your passport, most likely you will walk towards the exit to get to taxis. There will be several ATMs (bankomat) where you can get the local currency because you will need Belarusian Rubles for the taxi.
Get local currency
Do not get Russian Rubles from the ATM machine as you will have the option to get Belarusian Rubles and Russian Rubles. I can assure you that if you try to pay the taxi driver in Russian Rubles, you will get yelled at in Russian and they will be furious.
I did this twice and it’s not funny, don’t do this. You need Belarusian Rubles (рубель rubieĺ, BYN), not Russian Rubles (Rubles, ₽, руб).
Get the equivalent of at least $100 or €100. The taxi ride from airport to city center will be about $20 and a 30-40 minute drive. You will need to pay again to go back to the airport. You will need to take at least 4 taxi rides; one from airport to city center, one from embassy to bank, one from bank to embassy, and one from city center back to the airport.
If you have money left over before you depart back to Ukraine, you can exchange at airport in Ukraine or give away the remainder of your money as a tip for the taxi driver. It’s good humanity and respectful.
Find a taxi to take you to hotel or destination near Ukrainian Embassy
Find a taxi and go to your destination. Remember, you cannot be late to the Ukrainian Embassy for your appointment and it’s best to be one of the first in line, before the embassy opens. While in the taxi, it’s best to stay quiet. Once the driver hears you speak English or any language other than Russian, you are seen as an ATM machine by the driver. Stay quiet and sit calmly in the backseat of the taxi.
Upon arrival at your destination (most likely hotel) pay the taxi driver in Belarusian Rubles and tip the driver. You are in a foreign country, a post-soviet country that still looks like it’s part of the Soviet Union. Be polite and tip the driver.
Arrival at hotel near Ukrainian Embassy in Minsk
Make sure you get a hotel close to the Embassy as you may need it to charge your phone, ask for directions, ask for help from concierge for getting a taxi, have a meal or two, shower, and rest or sleep.
I made the mistake of not printing bank statements while in Kyiv so I had to do this at the hotel. My incoming money into my bank account was larger than normal for the past 3 months because I had many reimbursements from my employer on my paychecks. I asked the young lady at the front desk to print from the USB drive. She copied my bank statements to the hotel computer desktop and then printed them; this was exactly what I did not want to happen and you will see why soon.
Time for coffee before going to Ukraine Embassy for Visa D appointment
The hotel restaurant had a fresh buffet, but I only needed coffee as I was now awake for more than 24 hours at this point in time, due to my work schedule being on US Pacific time. The young lady in the restaurant insisted, several times, that I allow her to bring breakfast to my room. I understood why as I was an American in Minsk and the front desk had seen my bank statement summaries for the previous 3 months.
I politely told the young woman, in her early 20s, that I only wanted coffee and I was on my way out the door to walk down the street to the Ukrainian Embassy. She insisted over and over that she bring me breakfast to my room. I politely answered “no thank you” and went downstairs to confirm, with the front desk, the direction I would be walking.
Hotel lobby was suddenly full
When I exited the elevator, I was very surprised to see no less than 5 young women in the lobby sitting on the sofas. It was if they were waiting for me to greet them. After all, I was an American in Minsk and the young woman at the hotel front desk had seen my bank statements. This is a reminder to print your bank statements before you leave Ukraine and have all required paperwork ready before you arrive at your appointment.
Going to Visa D appointment at Ukraine Embassy in Minsk
You will notice that the US Embassy is across the street from the Ukrainian Embassy. As an American, I was happy to see the American Flag in Belarus on my way to the Visa D appointment across the street at Embassy of Ukraine.
As I mentioned before, get there early and before they open because there will be a line. It’s not everyday people in Minsk see Americans and westerners so if they hear you speak English, it will be obvious you are foreign. Stay quiet and remain patient and polite.
When the embassy opens, they already know who you are and what you are there for. Most likely the Ukrainian military will be guiding people to the correct seat or window to speak with an embassy employee for appointments.
Again, be polite, patient, and calm. Do everything they ask regarding your paperwork that has been prepared for you, paperwork you are required to bring, and handing your passport to the person conducting the interview.
Go to the bank to pay the fee and get the stamp on the receipt
After review of all documents, you will be handed a paper in Ukrainian language with an address on it. You will leave all of your paperwork with the embassy employee.
You will need to go to a bank to pay a fee and have your receipt stamped to show proof of payment. This is one of the reasons why you may need a hotel. Stop by your hotel and ask the front desk to arrange a taxi to the bank. Also make sure you a clear that you need the taxi to wait for you to take you back to the embassy.
Remember, I had Russian Rubles and no Belarusian Rubles. Again, I had to pay the taxi in a currency he did not want and again, I was yelled at in Russian. The taxi driver also left when I got out of the car because I paid him in currency he did not want.
You will wait in line with many other people, so it is important that you do not waste any time getting from the embassy to the bank. There will be a long line of people paying the fee to the embassy and it’s best to get there as fast as possible. If you are hungry, forget about it and go do what you went there to do and that’s to get the Visa D to get back into Ukraine.
Finally you will be next in line and the bank teller, sitting at a desk nonetheless and not behind glass, will ask you to be seated. Hand over the receipt and the money in USD or Euro. Once the transaction is completed, the bank employee will stamp the receipt and provide signature. You must have the stamp on the receipt when you go back to embassy. No stamp, no visa.
Get a taxi and go back to the embassy
As I mentioned before regarding the taxi and the wrong currency, I was without transportation back to the embassy and did not have the correct network for mobile data. If you remember, I stated it is a wise decision to choose the correct network for mobile data while on the tarmac waiting for the tarmac bus to take you to international customs. This is why I say that. I was left without a way back to where I needed to go, didn’t know enough Russian language to ask for help, and I was alone in a country I had never been to.
If you took my advice and planned for the hotel staff to request the taxi driver to stay and wait for you, you’re now on schedule and you’ll be on your way back to where you need to go to provide the proof of payment to the embassy. This is why you need the correct currency because this will be taxi trip number 3 of 4 that you’ll need to take.
2nd appointment to get Visa D after paying the fee at the bank
Go back to the embassy and wait in line, again. If you were polite and quiet the first time, the soldier who guided you to your first meeting with embassy staff will most likely remember you and bring you in ahead of others in line because they know you have paid the fee and bringing the receipt.
You will be seated inside awaiting the same person you spoke with before you went to the bank. He/she will call you to their window and hold out their hand for you to give them the receipt. The receipt stamp and signature will be examined and then you will be asked to wait again in a different chair.
During this time, if you had not read this website and acquired my wise knowledge of how to navigate your time in Minsk, you’d think they forgot about you sitting in the chair. They have not forgotten about you, they are preparing the Visa D in your passport on a blank page. Once you have your passport book with the Ukraine Visa D type and embassy stamp, you have completed your task and may be on your way back to your hotel or wherever you’d like to go.
Below is what the Visa D looks like when it is in the passport book.
Temporary Residence Permit
1-year and 3-year are the options for temporary residence. The 1-year residence permit process is much easier than the 3-year process. It is advisable to get a 1-year permit first, unless you have solid basis and grounds for obtaining a 3-year permit.