Work Permits for Foreign Workers
As a general rule, a holder of an Armenian visa is not entitled to work in Armenia unless he/she also holds a work permit. Highly skilled foreign specialists, business owners, executives and certain other categories of workers are exempt from work permit requirements.
The transfer of staff (skilled or non-qualified) is subject to obtaining a work permit and, where necessary, a temporary residence permit. In Armenia, for work permit requirements, no distinction is made between intra-company transfers, local hires or subcontracting employment. The work permit has to be applied for on behalf of the legal employer and is issued for the duration of the employment contract. The law requires the employer to search for Armenian citizens to do the job.
Employees that are employed by a foreign company (remain on the payroll of the foreign entity) are generally exempt from work permit requirements.
Unless a foreign individual is exempted from work permit requirements, the employer must first obtain a work permit by applying to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MLSA). The migrant will normally then apply for a temporary residence permit in order to be granted the permission to live and work in Armenia.
Work permit requirements do not apply to the following categories of foreigners:
- Holders of permanent or special residency permits;
- Holders of temporary residency permits if such permit is issued on the basis of being a family member of another holder of permanent (special, temporary) residency permit;
- Founders, directors and representatives of commercial organizations with foreign investment;
- Foreigners employed in representative offices of foreign companies;
- Foreign specialists employed to install or repair machinery and other equipment purchased from foreign companies or to train local staff to operate such machinery or equipment;
- Highly qualified foreign specialists in areas of natural sciences, information technologies (1. technician, operation and technical maintenance of computing equipment and computer systems; 2. technician, operation of computing machines, complexes, systems and networks; 3. web designer), agriculture (1. agriculture specialist; 2. farmer; 3. technician-cultivator), as well as foreigners with higher education in 1. information and communication technologies; 2. management and administration; 3. food technology; 4. finances;
- Family members of diplomatic staff;
- Foreigners working in border areas;
- Short-term workers in areas of sports and culture;
- Lecturers invited to lecture in Armenian educational institutions;
- Accredited representatives of foreign media organizations;
- Refugees and foreigners granted asylum;
- Students working during vacations within exchange programs;
- Foreigners arriving to Armenia on the basis of international agreements;
- Foreigners exempted from work permit requirements by virtue of international agreements.
A business visitor cannot undertake work activities while in Armenia, unless these activities are exempted from work permit requirements. Permitted activities during a business trip include meetings, interviews, discussions, negotiations, exploring business opportunities, attending conferences, conducting site visits, taking orders or purchasing goods or services. Payment by an Armenian entity of salary or other remuneration would be evidence of work.
Employers which already employed foreign labour at the time the work permit regulations came into effect do not have to apply for work permits until the current employment agreements expire. However, they must present copies of such employment agreements to the MLSA within 60 days. Any new hiring will require a work permit.