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Belarus reviewing foreigner registration regulations

MINSK, 19 December (BelTA) – The upper chamber of the Belarus parliament passed the bill on amendments and addenda to several Belarusian laws on the legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons at the session on 19 December, BelTA has learned.

The bill introduces mandatory state fingerprinting during the identification of foreign citizens and stateless persons, who seek refugee status or additional protection in Belarus. The norm will not apply to foreigners under 14 years old. The age of foreigners entitled to the certificate of registration of protection petition has been changed from 16 to 14 years of age. The review of the protection petition can be suspended if the foreigner is under arrest or in custodial restraint or is receiving in-patient medical aid in Belarusian healthcare institutions.

The list of foreigners, who are not subject to registration, is corrected. It now includes foreigners, who arrive in Belarus using passports that have been issued by the Interpol, foreigners invited by the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, the Belarus President Property Management Directorate, and foreign military, who arrive to take part in joint military exercises.

Apart from that, the bill allows for certain categories of foreigners to settle down in Belarus, with compensations provided for travel expenses and initial accommodation. Presenting the bill before the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly, Belarusian Interior Minister Igor Shunevich said that certain quotas are available for that, with about Br2.8 billion allocated for it every year as part of the relevant program.

The number of reasons to reject sojourn to foreigners has been increased. The status of convicted foreigners is determined. Now records are kept of foreigners, who are under arrest, in custodial restraint, or serve life sentence. Igor Shunevich remarked that the lion's share of foreigners are sentenced for profit-motivated crimes such as thefts and robberies. The number of foreigners, who are convicted after breaking rules of stay, stands at 100-150 people per annum.

Apart from that, the bill revises the regulatory directions for deporting and handing over foreign citizens to foreign states in line with the relevant international agreements of the Republic of Belarus.