More than 76,500 foreign tourists have taken advantage of the visa-free entry to Belarus, Aleksei Begun, Head of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Interior Ministry, told a press conference on 18 December, BelTA has learned.
"As of 18 December, over 76,500 foreign citizens have visited Belarus using the visa-free entry. From 1,000 to 1,500 visa-free foreign tourists arrive in Belarus daily. The overwhelming majority of them comply with the terms of stay. Needless to say, they apply to local citizenship and migration departments for extending the period of stay if necessary," Aleksei Begun said. He added that the experience in implementing the visa-free program will be reflected in another issue-related legal act.
Government bodies have drafted a bill on the legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons, the official underlined. "It updates certain provisions of the law on the legal status of foreign citizens. The document is designed to strengthen the opportunity for entry to and stay in Belarus for highly qualified specialists required in certain economic sectors. It is also meant to expand the basic rights and freedoms of foreign citizens in Belarus in accordance with the national requirements," Aleksei Begun remarked.
In his words, residence requirements will be relaxed for highly qualified specialists employed by commercial entities in terms of obtaining a permanent residence permit. Financial compensation for a certain category of persons of interest for Belarus' economy is also under consideration.
The Interior Ministry plans to undertake a number of administrative measures in electronic format in respect of foreigners. "We also plan to develop strategic cooperation, primarily with Russia, and also with the EU given that an agreement on assistance to Belarus with countering illegal migration has been signed and shall come into force in 2017. This is why we will introduce a whole set of measures to fight illegal migration and regulate migration flows. We will also draft a national concept of Belarus' migration policy," Aleksei Begun noted.
Over 4 million foreign national entered Belarus in January-November 2017, he recalled. The number of persons violating the law has been falling year by year, which means that the work on raising the public awareness has been fruitful. "We can state that the situation with migration in Belarus remains under control. We do not face any remarkable challenges or threats, like we did in 2014 or 2015. We also do not have to deal with such a huge migration wave as the European Union," Aleksei Begun summarized.