The Ukrainian government reported recently that due to the global economic crisis illegal migration has become a serious problem for Ukraine. Thousands of migrants from Asia and the Middle East use Ukraine as a halfway point to Western Europe and more often as a new home or work place.

To combat illegal migration the Ukrainian government has introduced several initiatives beginning with the implementation of stricter control procedures at the state borders as well as increasing administrative liability for the violation of rules covering the stay, employment of and study by foreigners in Ukraine. Included in these initiatives is the Law of Ukraine "On Some Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences of Ukraine Concerning Increasing Administrative Liability for Violation of Rules of Staying [of Foreigners] in Ukraine" (Law), which came into effect on April 7, 2009.

The Law increases by up to four times the amounts of administrative fines for various administrative violations of the rules for the stay, employment of and study by foreigners in Ukraine. The Law not only increases the liability of drivers who illegally transport foreigners into or from Ukraine as well as the liability of Ukrainian citizens for the non-registration or illegal registration of foreigners whom they privately invited to Ukraine, it also increases the administrative liability of officers of businesses employing or educating foreigners.

In particular, the Law doubled, from 850 UAH (approximately US$105) to 1,700 UAH (US$211), the minimum amount of administrative fine that may be imposed on officers of legal entities of all type of ownership (including companies owned by foreign shareholders) for (i) violation of the rules of employment of (a foreigner requires a work permit to be employed by Ukrainian legal entity) or study by foreigners in Ukraine, and (ii) providing foreigners with housing and other assistance to avoid required departure from Ukraine, or illegal registration or illegally obtaining documents for staying in Ukraine. The maximum amount of administrative fine remains unchanged at 3,400 UAH (approximately US$420).

Interestingly enough, while the Law increases the administrative liability of officers of Ukrainian legal entities, drivers and Ukrainian citizens, it does not increase the administrative liability of foreigners who violate the rules for staying, working or studying in Ukraine. We believe the reason for this may be a strategy by the Ukrainian government and Parliament to combat illegal migration mainly through the elimination of internal conditions allowing for such violations of the rules.