Strengthening state policy in migration processes regulation
March 19, 2012 – the 5th establishment anniversary of the State Migration Service is a really significant event for migration history of Azerbaijan. It is known that the State Migration Service was established 5 years ago, on March 19, 2007. During, past period the State Migration Service – the young entity of independent Azerbaijan Republic has gone through rapid development way and in our country migration service has been formed in compliance with international standards.
After restoration of state independence of Azerbaijan Republic, despite the primary difficult conditions, great successes have been achieved in the field of the country’s socio-economic development and integration to the world economic system as a result of our people's Nation-wide Leader Heydar Aliyev's foresighted policy and intense activity. Today President Ilham Aliyev’s successful and determined continuation of comprehensive development way defined by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev and leading our people to a brighter future and created favorable economic condition have provided sustainable and rapid development.
Though migration processes regulation problem has appeared as one of the most actual problems of new social and economic structure after our country gained state independence, first practical steps in this direction have been taken after Nation-wide Leader Heydar Aliyev's coming to the power in 1993 at the persistent request of the people. Taking into account Azerbaijan's life in war condition, expulsion of more than one million refugees and IDPs from their homelands, as well as the republic’s location in favorable geopolitical position, significant transit and communication possibilities, genius politician Heydar Aliyev has laid foundations of practical measures towards internal and external migration processes regulation. In this period as a result of elimination of conflicting opinions, anxieties and dangers related with the future of country, opening of new perspectives for living as a result of social-political stability established in the country has prevented migration process to foreign countries, therefore citizens left Azerbaijan in previous years have gradually come back.
Signature of the “Contract of Century” drafted by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev and which played decisive role in ensuring socio-political, economic stability, as well as comprehensive development of the country have triggered foreign investment flow to the republic, formation of favorable business environment, strengthened development of domestic labor market, opening of new work places, especially interest of migrant workers in our republic. At that time, lack of local personnel able to work with modern technologies, as well as their inability to meet required standard made liberal approach necessary for foreign specialists’ arrival in the country. As a result of implementing complex measures migrants’ entry in the country has been adapted to the requirements of domestic labor market for a long period and effective combat measures have begun to be taken against illegal migration processes.
At the end of 80s our country has undergone internal-external obligatory migration. As a result of Armenia’s deportation, genocide and aggression policy Azerbaijan has become the first republic to face refugee and IDP problem in former USSR. As a result of Armenia’s ethnic cleansing and aggression policy more than one million of our compatriots have been expelled from their homelands and have found asylums in different regions of our republic. Nation-wide Leader Heydar Aliyev tried to surround country citizens with care who migrated for various reasons and to solve the problems that they face. By pursuing state policy in this sphere and improving it according to the requirements of new period, President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev has taken efficient and purposeful measures towards eliminating negative impacts of both external and internal migration.
In the latest years, one of the key factors of globalization processes gradually accelerating and widening its scale all over the world is the migration phenomenon. Explaining the essence of this process with his wisdom and foresight Nation-wide Leader Heydar Aliyev said: “Migration is natural process, it is impossible to prevent these processes, it should not be prevented and generally has positive character. Migration processes in the world concern all countries and nations”. Ensuring rapid socio-economic development in Azerbaijan, expansion of international communications in energy-transportation fields, at the same time geopolitical position of our country has resulted in intensification of migration processes even more in globalization context. At the same time, as a result of the visa-free regime with several states number of foreigners passing or coming for short stay, intending to go to a third country, or trying to reside in the country without having legal bases has increased. All these have turned implementation of migration policy proper to national interests from development and security point of view, improvement and development of regulation of migration processes, coordination of state agencies’ activity, thus international cooperation to an objective necessity.
Taking into account all of these realities President Ilham Aliyev has provided implementation of complex measures in the direction of regulating migration processes with unified state policy during the last period.
For the purpose of management and regulation of migration processes several strict steps have been taken both in the legislation and in its application, substantial measures have been assumed. Thus, in 2004 “State Migration Policy Conception” defining key objectives before government agencies was adopted. For the purpose of realizing “State Migration Policy Conception” and achieving goals set forward, Order of the President of Azerbaijan Republic on “Approval of the State Migration Program of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was signed on July 25, 2006. Development of migration management system, regulation and forecast of migration processes, improvement of the legislation in this sphere in compliance with the international norms and modern age requirements, ensuring efficiency of law application, creation of unified database, modern automated control system in migration area, prevention of illegal migration, implementation of social protection measures related with migrants and other important issues were considered in the State Program reflecting system of complex measures. Establishment of special state body implementing unified state policy in migration sphere upon the State Program has emerged as an objective necessity. Taking this necessity into account President Ilham Aliyev signed Decree on establishment of the State Migration Service on March 19, 2007.
As it is known significant issue actual for current development period – regulation of migration processes, elimination of negative impacts of internal migration related with socio-economic factors was considered widely in “State Program on Socio-Economic Development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2009-2013” approved with April 14, 2009 dated order of the President Ilham Aliyev. The State Program concretely indicates: “As the country economy develops the number of foreigners participating in domestic labor market increases. Suitable geopolitical position of Azerbaijan Republic, economic reforms conducted in the country, development of entrepreneurship, implementation of international communication project, etc. caused increase in labor migration flows”.
Urgent issues like effective use of migration processes for socio-economic development of the country; consideration of state and society interests in realization of migration programs and measures; creating conditions which accelerates adaptation of migrants to current socio-economic situation; prevention of illegal migration were stipulated in the development program according to these realities in upcoming years.
During the past period as a result of successful execution of state program proportional development of region was provided, massive flows to big cities-urbanization processes were almost prevented, positive results was gained in the sphere of internal and external migration regulation.
Generally, in the contemporary period, protection of nation security interests of every country actualizes civic regulation of migration processes along with other several factors. Today gradual removal of the existing borders between states related with globalization processes universalization of the global economy, establishment of “unified standards” in lifestyles and behaviors, migration problems in case of unification of consumption and trade also have global character. At the beginning of XXI century in a situation where political, socio-economic, cultural relations expand among states, developed and developing countries are exposed to more serious influence and threats of migration processes. Thus, people unable to find proper job in their country, socially underprovided and with low living standards see the solution in migrating to other countries.
Touching exactly these issues in the meeting dedicated to the results of socio-economic development of the first term of 2011 President Ilham Aliyev said: “… Migration is a sign of development. If there wasn’t rapid development in Azerbaijan, the number of people coming to Azerbaijan in order to work wouldn’t be so high. At the same time, Azerbaijan is a part of global economy and we regard all integration programs positively. Liberal economy and all the facilities for work exist in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan people are very hospitable, construction works, the issues of creating modern services, of course, attract migrants. …All these factors, of course, how to say gives extra stimulus to persons coming from abroad”.
President of the Republic Ilham Aliyev signed Decree on “Application of “single window” principle in the management of migration processes” on March 4, 2009, for the purpose of accelerating social integration of migrants coming to Azerbaijan Republic, facilitating rules of granting relevant permissions to foreigners and stateless persons to live in the territory of the country on legal bases and to carry out labor activity and their registration upon place of residence, providing transparency in this sphere and developing migration management system. With the application of “single window” principle, migration management mechanism has been improved. More than 150 thousand applications have been received by the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan Republic since the application of “one window” principle up to this day.
Today, State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan is engaged in the issues of extending temporary staying period, granting permission for temporary residence, admission, revocation, restoration of citizenship, as well as determination of citizenship and refugee status, granting work permit to carry out labor activity and extension of the existing work permit, as well as registration of foreigners, fight against illegal migration. Taking all these realities into consideration the President of the Republic has signed a number of orders and decrees to implement complex measures in the field of migration processes regulation upon single state policy.
“The Rules of extending temporary staying period of foreigners and stateless persons in the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved with June 9, 2009 dated Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic, as well as “The Rules of granting permission to foreigners and stateless persons for temporary residence in the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved with June 30, 2009 dated Decision are actual normative legal acts related with foreigners’ and stateless persons’ temporary stay and residence in the territory of the country.
Migration Information Center which is functioning in order to solve operatively problems arising in migration field, at the same time to review urgently applications and complaints, is very important from the aspect of providing both transparency in our service activity and providing citizens with necessary information.
It should be mentioned that since the beginning of its operation SMS strives for improvement of legislation in compliance with requirements of international norms and modern period, elimination of shortcomings and abuses that may occur, negative impacts of unregulated migration processes, strengthening efficient preventive measures against illegal migration. At the same time it takes relevant measures to expel foreigners and stateless persons temporarily staying, temporarily and permanently residing in the territory of the country and violating the requirements of the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic. During the past period State Migration Service through defending national security and national interests has implemented duties arising from the requirements of the country’s existing legislation in this sphere and was guided with purposeful activity in order to prevent illegal migration, to create facilities for migrants to enjoy their rights. Final drafts of “Migration Code” and “Readmission Strategy of the Republic of Azerbaijan” prepared by the State Migration Service taking into consideration international practice, as well as European Union's legislation, for the purpose of improving national legislation and forming unified legislative base in migration sphere, defending rights of citizens living beyond the borders of Azerbaijan Republic were submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.
During the past period international cooperation has been expanded, bilateral and multilateral relations have been developed, a number of important steps have been taken towards intensification of interstate negotiations, conducting and application of experience exchange in migration sphere, discussing cooperation perspectives in preventing illegal migration.
Thus cooperation with organizations such as United Nations Organizations, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States has been developed, a number of meetings with relevant entities of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kingdoms of Netherlands and Belgium, the Republic of Turkey, the Republic of Latvia, the Russian Federation and the State of Qatar, mutual visits have been organized.
For the purpose of operative solution of problems emerging in regions and the capital, activity of Regional Migration Department in Baku, Yevlakh, Lankaran, Shirvan, Khachmaz and migration division of Baku Regional Migration Department in border check points has been completely provided and has been partly completed with employees. Construction of Detention Centers for Illegal Migrants in Yevlakh and Baku cities has been completed and they are intended to be opened in upcoming days. Construction of the administrative building of Aghsu Regional Migration Department is being continued.
During 5 years of its activity a number of important steps have been taken towards application of information technologies in organization of Service activity. Thus, according to action plan prepared for execution of relevant items of the Regulation on “Unified Migration Information System of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved with June 4, 2010 dated Decree of the President of Azerbaijan Republic data exchange between Unified Migration Information System (UMIS) and “Entry-Exit and Registration” Interagency Automated Data Search System has been improved. Besides, software for internal “electronic document circulation formation” within “The Action Program on “E-government” creation in 2010-2011 in the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved with the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic dated on May 14, 2010 has been prepared and presented for testing. In the report period special e-service section has been created on official webpage for rendering “E-service” by the State Migration Service according to the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan Republic dated on May 24, 2011 on “Several measures in organizing State agencies’ e-service rendering” and rendering electronic services by the State Migration Service was started from September 1, 2011.
I should mention that work places of Unified Migration Information System of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan Republic have been established in the sections located in the border crossing points of State Migration Service of Nakchivan Autonomous Republic and its activity has been connected with the central base.
During the past period for the purpose of providing implementation of the relevant decrees and orders of the country President in staff and staff preparation, February 2, 2011 dated Decision №19 of the Cabinet of Ministers on approval of “The Norms of providing employees with special rank serving in the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan with special uniform and distinction symbols” and “The Rules of holding competition with candidates for recruitment to service in migration bodies” was approved with October 10, 2011 dated Decision № 01 of the State Migration Service.
Education programs of the State Migration Service have been prepared with the aim of studying international practice in migration sphere, improvement of staff preparation policy, professional development of employees and increasing their skills, providing professional preparation of employees newly recruited to service.
During the past 5 years more than 180 thousand applications related with issues of extending temporary staying period of foreigners and stateless persons, granting permission for temporary residence, admission, revocation, restoration of citizenship, as well as determining citizenship and refugee status, as well as granting work permits to carry out paid labor activity and extension of the relevant work permits and each application was investigated according to requirements of the country legislation and relevant decisions were taken by individual approach towards each application.
According to calculations number of foreigners in the territory of the republic for the end of 2011 has significantly increased in comparison with number of foreigners for the end of 2010. Generally, when reviewing last 5 years it is observed that number of foreigners has been increasing year after year. It is forecasted that this trend will continue in 2012. Thus, it is expected that participants and numerous spectators of “Eurovision” song contest and Women’s World Cup which will be held in current year, foreigners related with building and reconstruction work at preparation stage of these respected events will come to the republic. Related with these events in order to render service within competences of State Migration Service to foreigners necessary measures have been and are being taken.
Pursuing state policy in migration sphere, thus executing competences in management and regulation of migration processes defined by the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic State Migration Service since its establishment tries to improve legislation according to international norms and modern age requirements, to eliminate shortcomings and misuses in application of laws, negative impact of unregulated migration processes, to enhance effective preventive measures against illegal migration.
During the past 5 years preventive measures against illegal migration have been intensified, cases on illegal residence and violation of labor activity rules were revealed and eliminated. Therefore during the past period as a result of measures assumed by the employees of the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan Republic 28 thousand cases on infringement of administrative legislative requirements by foreigners were revealed. 6.738 of them were fined and their residences in the country were legalized, about 22.231 foreigner decision on expulsion from the country was taken.
Relevant orders signed to those who distinguished for exemplary execution of their service duties, long-term perfect work and for other services. Beyond this with March 15, 2011 dated order of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev for distinction in fulfilling their official duties and efficient work at migration bodies 10 employees of the State Migration Service were awarded with the medal “For Distinction in public service”.
During activity period of the State Migration Service, one of the unforgettable historical events was opening ceremony of new administrative building in Binagadi district with full-condition, constructed in modern architecture style on May 25, 2010 with participation of state’s head who highly valued activity of service employees and attached special care to them. Congratulating the staff President Ilham Aliyev said: “All conditions are available to work in this building. The most modern standards are applied. Building distincts with its beauty, as well as, its interior design is high level. That is to say work conditions meet the highest standards. It is essential that all work here also should meet the highest standards. Azerbaijan Migration Service has broad functions. Establishment of Migration service was very timely taken step and during these years service formed, gained strength. Today Migration Service has an important role in protection of economic interests of Azerbaijan. I am sure that Migration Service’s work will be on high level. This, of course, depends on you-employees. …We should do our best to make service operate at maximum level. About your duties, you know these duties well. …Your function, of course, are both to render service to foreigners coming from abroad, and to take all necessary measures to help them stay in Azerbaijan…
Now we integrate to world economy. Number of persons coming from abroad to Azerbaijan increases. Azerbaijan citizens work in other countries. This is a normal process. It is important that all these works shall be regulated within law and our economic interests shall be fully provided. We fully acknowledge that there is not any factor that can be danger for security inside the country. Because of that, initially we should enhance our border and we are doing it. As well as, measures taken with Migration Line will protect our economic interests, at the same time will provide comfortable and secure life for our people”.
It should be emphasized that State Migration Service has taken several urgent measures in the direction of qualitative execution of instructions and tasks those set forward. Therefore, change has been made in the structure of the service, Head Department of regulation of migration processes has been established, extending attention to this direction strict control mechanisms created. On the background of these issues relevant amendments made to decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic on “Approval of rules for granting work permit and sample of such permit” for foreigners to carry out paid labor activity in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to “Rules of determining labor migration quote”. As well as, relevant decrees have been signed by the President on making addendums and amendments to regulations on “ The State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, on “Unified migration information system of “the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, to the law of Azerbaijan Republic on “Labor migration”, decree № 69 of the President of Republic on “Application of “single window” principle in management of migration processes”, to Administrative Offences Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Besides these, along the year relevant amendments made to “Regulation on service in migration bodies”, to the law of Azerbaijan Republic on “Exit from, entry to the country and passports”, to “Rules of reviewing petition on granting “Refugee” status”.
During the past period always approaching with attention and care to the activity of migration bodies head of state gave several orders in 2011 for the purpose of improving social provision of migration bodies’ employees. Thus, since July of last year 25 percent of allocations collected from fines applied upon Administrative Offences Code of Azerbaijan Republic by migration bodies for violation of legislation in migration sphere have been added to the salary of employees. Thoughts of President about the service, historical events that we witnessed, gained achievements, actually make every employee honored and proud.
Results of preventive measures of Service against illegal migration over 5 years allows us to say that, in upcoming years service will be able to achieve greater results in broader structure.
Today, we can say with assurance that, migration processes of Azerbaijan Republic are regulated at high level by the state.
I am sure that, employees of the State Migration Service will highly prove trust shown by the head of state to migration bodies, as well as holding requirements of legislation as a priority they will do their best to fulfill perfectly, timely and with quality tasks set in front of the Service.
Deputy chief of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
III rank state migration service counselor