The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has abruptly transformed the entire world. xpath.global organized the second live session called Xpath Nexus, dedicated to the terrible situation there.
Currently, over 2 million individuals have already departed Ukraine, up to 4 million more expected to follow in the next couple of weeks. The military battle continues, the civilian fatalities are soaring and the economic struggle deepens.
The article covers the temporary protection directive that has been recently activated and how it is getting implemented in various EU countries. On the other hand, we’ll take a look at the current situation in Ukraine, Russia and the corporate perspective and challenges on this topic.
What are the main requests that you have received in the past couple of weeks from your clients?
Maryna Rych, Managing Director ABEA Relocation Ukraine
In Ukraine, in general, most of our international companies are preparing a creation plan for the foreign employees, which were also supported. Most of them just use it as soon as it happens. A lot of foreigners left immediately from Kyiv or from Kharkiv to move to the west. Some of them left to the border as soon as it was possible.
Are there any administrative services still going on? (e.g. getting documents etc.), or your operations have totally stopped?
Maryna: In Kyiv, operations totally stopped, because it was a lot of bombing in the last several days, and another governmental authority is closed. In other cities, which are not under the bombs and which are not occupied, governmental authorities are working. They can help but not much.
The Temporary Protection Directive key takeaways
Tanel Feldman: The Temporary Protection Directive exists since 2001, over 20 years. It exists to address such a situation which we hoped to never have, but we have today, which is the mass influx in situations for instance, of war.
First, it’s important to understand that ‘temporary protection’ is it’s a very flexible concept. It’s very much different from asylum and subsidiary protection. For asylum, the individual must eventually bring proof that by his own was persecuted situated. Temporary Protection means what we have today, unfortunately, we have a max influx of many people leaving Ukraine. They need to find a solution in other EU countries. The directive lays down a basic set of rights, like residence permit, housing, the right access to the employment market, access to schooling for children, access to social security benefits, to health care.
Each member state may offer conditions, which are more favorable. I have the feeling that most of the member states will offer conditions, which are eventually more favorable than the conditions laid down by the directive and contained in the recent course on this.
The temporary protection can be enforced not only by Ukrainian nationals but by any individual in Ukraine since the 24th of February: people holding a permanent residence permit, people who were temporary students, business people, etc.
What are the steps Sweden has taken so far or intends to take in the future to see this directive implemented? What will be the current status and your expectations towards it?
Lena Rekdal, Founder Nimmersion Sweden: It has been implemented and there are a number of authorities that will collaborate to make this a nice welcome. There are many people who have already come. Ukrainians are well taken care of when they come here.
Are Swedish companies from your knowledge, willing to hire Ukrainian people that might or ask my direct Sweden is this directive helping in this in this respect. And if you had any requests lately?
Lena: Absolutely. There have been websites made up for Ukrainian, especially tech. There are so many tech people here already, and also Ukrainian companies working together with Swedish companies. So people have gone down to get their colleagues out and help them to save them and support them in any way they can. A lot of people are still actually working in Ukraine. And parts of the borders are hard to cross, it takes a long time. But there is a great deal of effort being made to help out when they come to Sweden. They will be able to enter via biometric passports.
There’s a great civil collaboration to help out and find properties. And also the Migration Agency has about 1500 places. They will scale up to 5000 this week, and eventually 20,000. People will have the right to work right away. I am working with a lot of different government agencies to see how this will work in practice, how will we get take care of children when the parents are working? How can they enter schools? How does that whole process work? Everybody commits to making this a great transition and a safe haven. But it will take a little bit of time. So the authorities are using existing laws to have the process become easy to implement and work out quickly.
What are the steps Portugal has implemented or intends to implement in Portugal to see the directive in action? What would be the current status?
Sara Sousa Rebolo, Immigration Lawyer & Partner at Caiado Guerreiro:
In Portugal, we have adopted the Directive in 2003. This year with this crisis in Ukraine, the government had issued a special regulation on March 1, with a specific proceeding for the Ukrainians, leaving the country, and willing to stay in Portugal, due to the conflict. This special proceeding is very operational. It’s automatically granted, as soon as the request for temporary protection is made by refugees. You can make it in person or online, we have a platform for that purpose. And it’s granted automatically without any need for criminal records or any additional proof. It’s only requested that they can show they are Ukrainians coming from Ukraine.
Automatically they will grant that one-year temporary residency permit. It can be extended after that one year, automatically is granted the Portuguese taxpayer number, the Portuguese number for the health system, and also the Portuguese number for the Social Security. This proceeding is also automatically inscribed in the Portuguese system for recruitment, for job positions. And at this moment, I can tell you that the immigration office in Portugal already accepted 4039 applications for temporary protection. There are already 16000 jobs available for Ukrainians. Most of the jobs are for software programmers, drivers, tourism, restaurants, construction, and agriculture.
Regarding any possible suspension for Russian or Belorusian nationals, can you tell us anything?
For caution purposes, they suspended all the applications from Russian nationals regarding the Golden Visa Program. All of the other forms of visa are not officially suspended, but naturally, they can take more time to be granted.
What would be the current situation in Russia?
David Gilmartin, Founder & CEO Troika Relocations:
Compared to what’s happening in Ukraine, the situation in Russia is very quiet and very calm. I think there’s a massive miscalculation on behalf of the officers and in terms of how quickly and how coordinated the response would be from the U.S., UK, EU in terms of sanctions. We saw almost immediately (after the 24th of February) airspace closed, flight bans, a few days later we had many Russian banks removed from the SWIFT system. The effect economically has been and will be catastrophic.
From a relocation point of view, everything is outbound at the moment. Nobody is coming into Russia, everyone wants to leave.
What were the actions Bolt has taken in order to support Ukrainian nationals and encourage other companies to join?
Liis Tõnisson, Head of Global Mobility at Bolt: Because we have been operating in Ukraine for some time, then this topic is I believe hard for all of us. Once it happened, then we decided to donate 5% of our orders during two weeks to Ukraine to support their organizations. So far, we have already donated €3 million and an additional 2 million to the Red Cross, to borderless doctors, to help as much as we can.
I would say it’s quite common that companies removed Russian products from their lists. We did the same in bulk markets. We’re not selling Russian products anymore. We’re trying to say out loud that we’re supporting Ukraine and we’re definitely together with them throughout the period. I really hope that it will end soon enough.
From a global mobility standpoint, what would be the outcome in the longer term regarding the huge number of people displaced from Ukraine?
Liis: We are also accepting refugees and giving out a residence permit for the one-year period to adapt them to Estonian society as fast as possible. Our companies have been really open and sharing open positions. Our unemployment insurance fund has a special site to gather all the open positions. I would say that there is something for everyone. In Estonia, they will find something to do. The Estonian government is working on school and kindergarten topics so kids would also have a possibility to continue their studies here. This is also a really important topic on the table. I really hope that things will work out. But of course, we can see that the situation is new, it takes some time to adapt things. Authorities are trying to figure out what to do. We all are trying to help as much as we can.
Bogdan, tell us which were the duty of care actions that you have put in place for your colleagues in Ukraine.
Bogdan Gabor, Country Manager Lugera: At the beginning of this situation, we rented a hotel for them in Lviv and tried to move them there to be a bit safer. Afterward, we managed to convince them to cross the border, most of them to Poland. We rented a bus and relocated them to Romania. It was a real adventure with all the borders accommodation transportation and so on. Luckily we managed to relocate 40 colleagues and 16 of their kids so they’re now within us in Bucharest. We set up an office for them. We rented the space for the kids to do different activities until all the situation will be more clear. The rest of our colleagues remain in Slovakia, and some of them remained in Ukraine unfortunately.
Many thanks to all of the speakers who took part in this live event. If you’d like to watch the entire discussion, please do so HERE.