The Human Constanta team, together with the lawyers of the LegalHub project, analyzed what should be paid special attention to and what the rules will be for moving around Belarus and Russia for foreigners and stateless persons.
On February 1, 2023, the Law “On Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Belarus on Mutual Recognition of Visas and Other Issues Related to the Entry of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons into the Territory of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State” came into force. This agreement was signed in Minsk on June 19, 2020. From March 2023, foreign citizens and stateless persons will be able to enter, leave, stay, and transit through the territory of Belarus and Russia on the basis of a visa of one of the two states and identity documents.
The objectives of the agreement are as follows:
- formation of a single migration space;
- regulation of migration processes in the territories of Russia and Belarus;
- simplified and streamlined the necessary procedures for this;
- ensuring the security of Belarus and Russia in its various aspects;
- regulation of the procedure for foreign citizens and stateless persons to cross the joint border.
The following procedure for entry, exit, stay and (or) transit of foreign citizens and stateless persons through the territories of the Republic of Belarus (RB) and the Russian Federation (RF) is established:
If a foreigner (stateless person) needs a visa to enter the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, then the presence of a visa of one of the states (Belarusian or Russian) gives him the right to enter the territory of another state, to transit, and also to stay there within the validity period of the visa.
If a visa-free regime is established for foreigners (stateless persons) to enter the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation by international treaties, then the presence of an identity document gives them the right to move freely through the territories of both states, to travel without visas in transit within the period specified by the international treaty or legislation host country.
If a foreigner (stateless person) enters the territory of one state (for example, Belarus) in accordance with an international treaty without a visa, and a visa regime is established for him to enter another state (for example, Russia), then to enter the territory of this state it is necessary to have a visa.
If a foreigner enters a state under a visa regime (for example, Belarus), and in accordance with an international treaty, a visa is not needed to enter the territory of another state (for example, Russia), then entry into the territory of this state is carried out on the basis of an identity document.
If a foreigner (stateless person) has a temporary residence permit, a residence permit or a document for attending international events (for example, a ticket to a sporting event) of one of the states, then if he has an identity document, he has the right to freely enter, stay or move in transit through the territory of another state during the period of validity of these documents.
The provisions of the Agreement apply when foreigners (stateless persons) enter the territory of each of the States of the Parties and exit from this territory:
a) through checkpoints (from third countries);
b) directly from the territory of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation (and vice versa) via the used international rail and air routes, as well as the used road routes listed in the Annex to the Agreement.
The Agreement does not apply to areas where, in accordance with the laws of the state on which territory these areas are located, a special permit is required to visit.
The period of stay of foreigners (stateless persons) in the territories of Russia and Belarus is calculated from the date of entry into the territory of one of the states from the territory of a third state.
In this connection, with visa-free entry, it is necessary to know exactly the permissible periods of stay of foreigners in each state in accordance with the provisions of international treaties on the establishment of visa-free entry in both states in order to prevent violations of migration laws.
Belarus and Russia mutually recognize border crossing marks in order to control the length of stay of foreigners (stateless persons) traveling under the Agreement.
Attention should also be paid to the obligation of foreigners (stateless persons) to register (register for migration) within the time and in the manner established by the legislation of the state of the host Party.
Foreigners (stateless persons) who have received permits for entry, exit and stay for the purpose of employment, education, temporary or permanent residence, have the right to exercise labor activity, study, temporarily or permanently reside in the territory of the state, the competent authorities of which issued these permits.
The Agreement does not apply to foreigners (stateless persons) who are allowed to enter the territory of one state, but whose entry to the territory of another state is restricted.
This means that those who are restricted from entering the territory of one of the countries will not be able to get into the second. Such foreign citizens and stateless persons are notified of the restrictions in force against them in entering the territory of another state. In practice, this provision was successfully implemented even before the entry into force of the Agreement.
Taking into account the common base of Belarus and Russia on restrictions on entry (exit) established for citizens, if there is a restriction on entry, for example, to the Russian Federation, entry into the Republic of Belarus will also be denied.
Belarus and Russia regularly exchange information about crossing the border, issued, canceled, declared invalid visas, residence permits, temporary residence permits and documents for attending an international event.
Belarus and Russia reserve the right to refuse entry or reduce the period of stay in the territory of their state of any foreign citizen or stateless person, if necessary in order to ensure the defense capability or security of the state, or public order, or protect the health of the population, as well as in other cases stipulated by the laws of both states.