With a growing economy and improving life standards, Azerbaijan is turning into an attractive hub for tens of thousands of labor migrants. The country has ranked first in CIS region in attracting migrants due to its social-political and economic stability.
The migrants are mainly from neighbor countries like Iran, Russia, Georgia, and Turkey, as well as from Great Britain, China, Pakistan, Australia, and Philippines. They are mostly involved in construction sector which has seen an economic boom in the recent years. Migrants also show an interest in the fields of ICT, oil industry, tourism, hotel business, and education, which are developing rapidly and attracting larger amounts of foreign investments.
Improving migration legislations
Azerbaijan has improved its migration legislations in accordance with international norms over the past few years. The changes made to the Migration Code on August 1, 2013 have simplified the registration of the migrants at their residences and application for other relevant standards.
The Code also updated the order of transit passage through the country for foreigners and stateless persons and the order of their registration at their residences. The entire registration procedure is implemented based on a unified information system.
The permission for temporary residence and immigrant status for permanent residence of foreigners is issued by ASAN Service (the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of Azerbaijan).
In 2013, Azerbaijan State Migration Service issued temporary residence permits for 40,800 foreigners and stateless persons and permanent residence for 2,338 foreigners and persons without citizenship while stay of 729 people were extended in the country.
In this period 9,021 people got permission to work, while similar permission was extended for 3,647 people and stay of 3,007 foreigners in Azerbaijan were legalized. Furthermore, 399,927 foreigners appealed for registration of residence in the State Migration Service.
Azerbaijan also has toughened sanctions against illegal migrants. The parliament adopted relevant changes to the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan in early December 2013. In accordance with changes, mandatory banishment will be applied to foreigners or stateless persons imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, or sentenced to the penalty of deprivation of freedom.
The legislation sets a punishment as a fine in the amount of 2,000 - 5,000 manats ($2,549-$6,374), or correctional labor up to two years, or imprisonment up to three years for organizing illegal entry and residence of a foreigner or a stateless person in Azerbaijan, as well as illegal transit through the territory of Azerbaijan.
Notably, 30,867 foreigners and stateless persons violated immigration laws in 2013, the State Migration Service reported.
In accordance with the Code of Administrative Offences, 25,796 foreigners got deportation orders from Azerbaijan for 48 hours, while 1,746 foreigners were deported from Azerbaijan.
In 2013, 5,838 foreigners were exempted from the fine, and 202 people were expelled from the list of the deported.
The Service carried out inspections at 564 entrepreneurial facilities to prevent violations of the law by employers, and revealed violations of rules for issuing work permits for foreigners at 256 entrepreneur facilities.
Obtaining the citizenship of Azerbaijan
The number of persons applying to obtain citizenship has increased over the last years due to economic, cultural and social developments in Azerbaijan. 231 persons obtained citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and citizenship of 10 persons was restored in 2013. The persons who obtained citizenship that are mainly from CIS countries will apply to relevant state bodies to get identity cards from February 1. The new citizens of Azerbaijan are mainly foreign students and workers, the State Migration Service reported.
Those who wish to obtain citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan firstly must apply to the President of Azerbaijan by filling an application. Other documents to be attached include a biography, four photos (3x4cm), reference from the place of residence about family, receipt for paid state duty, reference from the Ministry of Education about Azerbaijan Republic's official language skills, a copy of the permission card for permanent residence in the territory of Azerbaijan Republic, notarized copy of the document certifying the identity, document certifying existence of legal source of income (one of the following documents: reference from work place, reference on getting pension, grant or social assistant, reference from tax collecting body on income of physical persons, reference on receipt of alimony, inheritance certificate, etc., based petition of state body inviting him/her to Azerbaijan Republic (highly qualified specialists in the fields of science, technology, culture or sport stipulated in 1st item of the fourth paragraph of Article 14th of Azerbaijani Republic Law "on citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan".Expanding international co-op
Azerbaijan also expands international cooperation in the field of migration. Azerbaijan and the European Union established a framework for future cooperation in the field of migration and mobility in December 2013.
Mobility partnership with Azerbaijan defines a number of policy objectives and a number of areas in which further dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan will continue to ensure that the movement of people will be as effective as possible.
Measures will be taken in order to expand opportunities of Azerbaijan for legal labor migration management, including provision of asylum and refugee protection, prevention and fight against illegal migration, smuggling of migrants and human trafficking, etc.
Azerbaijan and the EU started negotiations on mobility partnership in February 2012. Negotiations were completed in autumn 2013.