Kazakhstan moves to limit foreign labour
Regulatory update 3 minute read

Kazakhstan moves to limit foreign labour

03 March 2020

New laws in Kazakhstan will challenge employers who are looking to obtain work permits and hire foreign labour.



What’s new? 

The government of Kazakhstan has changed the quotas and requirements for issuing and obtaining work permits for foreign labour. 

The 2020 quota for attracting foreign workers has been reduced by forty percent to protect the domestic labour market from unskilled foreign labour and aims to help employ more local personnel and qualified foreign labour. 

Foreigners can obtain a work permit if: 

  • there are no qualified professionals able to perform a specific type of work;
  • there is a reasonable need for a foreigner’s employment, such as they are a shareholder in the company; 
  • the foreigner is transferred by anon-resident company to perform work in Kazakhstan based on an agreement.

The requirements for applicants vary depending on the job title, skill level and type of work. 

The four skill levels for foreign workers are: 

  • Category 1 - directors/CEOs and deputy directors; 
  • Category 2- managers and supervisors; 
  • Category 3 specialists; 
  • Category 4 skilled workers.

What’s does it mean for business? 

Businesses must prepare for limits on foreign hires and a longer work permit process with more specific restrictions. 

The process of obtaining a work permit can take two to three months at minimum. The permits are issued for a specific length of time, depending on the category of employee. 

  • Category 1 - one to three years and can be renewed for the same amount of time as issued;
  • Category 2 and 3 – one year and can be renewed no more than three times;
  • Category 4 – one year with no renewal option. 

The employee must provide: 

  • notarized copy of a passport and diploma or a document that confirms qualifications or degree translated into Russian / Kazakh;
  • personal details of the foreign employee (country of residence, departing country, birthdate, etc.);
  • qualification letter from previous employer on official letterhead; 
  • power of attorney for appointed person responsible for collection and submission of documents. 

The employer must provide:

  • information about the current amount of both local (Kazakh) and foreign employees in their employment;
  • description of the main types of business activities.

The law contains exemptions for: 

  • heads of branches and representative offices of foreign legal entities;
  • general directors of the Kazakhstani legal entities with 100% foreign ownership in their charter capital;
  • citizens of countries listed in the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty;
  • foreign citizens entering to carry out entrepreneurial activity; 
  • participants of the International Financial Center, Astana.

When does it come into force? 

The deadline to apply for work permits for 2021 must be submitted by 1 August 2020. The quota request should include the quantity and positions of the employees which the company is looking to hire.. 

What else should you know?

There have been other changes in migration legislation:

  • businesses no longer must submit monthly reports about foreign employees; 
  • visa-free stays are limited to 30 days at each entry and cannot exceed 90 days within a 180-day period and have become available for individuals from Bahrain, Columbia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Vatican and Vietnam;
  • visa waiver program from China and India has been extended through 31 December 2020. 

Employers must also pay an annual tax for requesting work permits varying from approximately USD 960 – 1,800 depending on the type of business activity. 

How we can help

TMF Kazakhstan provides a full range of HR and payroll services to businesses operating in the country and are fluent in the local rules and regulations. Our team can help with obtaining work permits for foreign employees and other employment consultancy services to ensure your business stays compliant with these changes. Talk to us.

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