Armenia

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MPG-led MIPEX assessment of Armenia
The Migration Policy Group has led a MIPEX assessment of Armenia. This page contains the same information as for all other MIPEX countries. The data is available for 2010 only and was collected on 2013 but also reflects the situation as of 31 May 2010, therefore the data is directly comparable with the 31 MIPEX III countries. The 31 MIPEX III country profiles do not include the Armenian results, nor do the overall policy findings as these were published in March 2011. However the Armenian data is available in the MIPEX data tool.

 

Download MIPEX III Armenia in Russian (pdf)

Download MIPEX III Armenia in English (pdf)

 

Overview

Largely a country of emigration, Armenia is also slowly becoming a country of immigration and a country of transit for people from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and the Middle East. In the 1990s, immigrants were 20% of the country’s population, mostly refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Today, the immigrant population is half that size (10.5% of the population), composed mostly of labour migrants from CIS countries and a few non-CIS countries, such as Iran and Syria. The representation of female migrants (58.9%) in Armenia is also one of the highest in the world. 

Migrant integration is relevant in terms of Armenia’s membership of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Council of Europe and its plans for closer co-operation with the EU. Armenia’s policies have similarly expanded from diaspora and humanitarian policies to other areas of migration in the 2000s. Institutional reform and legal approximation with EU legislation were two objectives of the December 30 2010 Concept of State Regulation of Migration and its associated Action Plan for Implementation 2012-2016. Internationally, Armenia has signed most of the major ILO Conventions and UN Conventions that guarantee the rights of all persons including migrants, except for the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention (C181) and, most notably, the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the Members of Their Families. Armenia has not yet signed several key Council of Europe Conventions on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers (1977, n. 093), the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (1992, n. 144), and Nationality (1997, n. 166). The country has also signed a number of bilateral agreements on labour migration with various states, including Georgia (1993), the Russian Federation (1994), Ukraine (1995) and Belarus (2000). 

As Armenia grows into a new country of immigration, the MIPEX assessment confirms that its current legal framework is halfway favourable for integration. Overall, its legal framework scores 44-out-of-100 points and ranks alongside other ‘new’ immigration countries in the MIPEX (e.g. Southeastern Europe, such as Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Serbia). Immigrants to Armenia can benefit from several favourable policies: inclusive requirements for reunited families and permanent residence, local voting rights for foreigners, and the acceptance of dual nationality. Several of Armenia’s policy weaknesses are also shared with other ‘new’ destination countries in Europe. Immigrants to Armenia face highly discretionary procedures for family reunion, permanent residence and access to nationality and lack  targeted state support to find the right job, improve the education of their children, and organise themselves to be heard in political debates. Furthermore, Armenia’s policies fall below international, EU and other European legal standards and national practices on family reunion and permanent residence procedures, the absence of immigrant consultative bodies, and, most notably, the absence of a dedicated anti-discrimination law and independent equality agency. In contrast, these laws and procedures have recently become much more favourable in several Central and Southeastern European countries. 

Score Changes

Areas of Integration

  • Show Labour Market Mobility

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    Equal access to general support

    The so-called EU Single Permit Directive 2011/98/EU guarantees most non-EU migrant workers equal access to public employment services, education and vocational training (with some exceptions), the recognition of foreign qualifications, social security, and goods and services available to the public as well as targeted information on their rights. EU Member States are in the process of ‘transposing’ this EU Directive into national law, which should significantly improve labour market mobility in most EU countries, especially in new immigration countries in Central and Southeastern Europe. General and targeted support for migrant workers is already more favourable than average in several new immigration destinations, including Portugal, Spain, Estonia, and Romania.

    Armenia only sets halfway favourable conditions for migrant workers to contribute to the economy, due to several gaps in legislation. As in many other new immigration countries, legally resident foreigners in Armenia generally have favourable access to all sectors of the economy, especially self-employment. However, their rights as workers are only slightly favourable because foreigners do not receive access to unemployment benefits, due to ambiguities in the law. Similarly, temporary migrant workers are not guaranteed equal access to the full labour market or public employment services because authorities retain significant discretion in implementation. Foreigners also face limits on access to general support—more specifically, all foreigners are not guaranteed access to free vocational training, while they must pay two times as much as Armenian nationals do for the recognition of foreign qualifications. More broadly in OSCE participating States in Europe, equal access to education, vocational training, and public employment services are guaranteed in most countries surveyed and under EU law. Beyond access to general support, hardly any targeted support is available in Armenia or in Central and Southeastern European countries, in contrast to the practices in the major developed immigration countries. 

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    The right to family reunion enshrined in law

    The Czech Republic before transposition of the EU directive 2003/86/EC did not have a specific policy for family reunion. The family members of migrants had to apply for different national statuses with their own sets of required documents. Now the migration law has reduced the number down to one status with one set of documents. Since 1 January 2000, the migration law has clarified that before any decision of rejection or withdrawal authorities must take into account the impact of their decision on a migrant's private and family life. The best interest of the child must also be considered as a general principle of law. Since 2003, most European countries surveyed in MIPEX have established family reunion as a right and explicitly require an individual assessment in cases of rejection or withdrawal. However gaps remain and procedures are still rather discretionary in many Southeastern European countries.

    Armenia obtained its highest score on family reunion because reuniting families can benefit from a slightly favourable legal framework, apart from a few gaps in legislation not in conformity with EU law. The eligibility and legal conditions for family reunion are favourable in Armenia, as in several new immigration destinations in Southern and Central Europe. Temporary or permanent residence can apply for their close relatives, including their spouse, children, parents, and siblings. For applicants, the procedure should be short and low-cost because authorities should have no reason to reject their application if it is not fraudulent and poses no security threat. Reunited family members obtain equal rights as their sponsor, autonomous residence permits, and can apply for permanent residence after a few years. However, family reunion is not yet specified as a right in Armenian law, as it is in EU law and most OSCE participating States covered in MIPEX. Consequently, the major area of weakness is the authorities’ wide discretion in the procedure. Applicants can be rejected without due account taken of their personal and family circumstances and without the right to representation before an independent administrative court. 

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    Adapting schools in recent countries of immigration

    Estonia provides all migrant newcomers with compulsory, continuous and standardized support to learn Estonian as well as their own language and culture. Similarly in Czech law, language courses should be needs-based, professionally taught, and regularly evaluated, while mother tongue and cultures should be available. Czech teachers can integrate multicultural education into their curriculum through state-supported pedagogical materials and teacher trainings like the much-used information portal (www.czechkid.cz). Slovakia also recently introduced ‘multicultural education’ into its curriculum as well as intercultural education training for qualifying and working teachers.

    The education of immigrant children is an area of weakness for most MIPEX countries, especially the new countries of immigration in Central and Southeastern Europe. Nevertheless, Armenia obtained a very unfavourable score on education policies, especially when compared to the MIPEX countries, most of which provide basic integration programmes for immigrant pupils. Firstly, legal access to education is unfavourable in Armenia. The legislation is generally silent on immigrant pupils. All children are guaranteed the right to at least compulsory education. In many cases, immigrant children educated in Armenia then face additional fees to access vocational training and higher education. In half the MIPEX countries, all immigrant children, regardless of their legal status, enjoy equal access to all levels of the school system. Beyond legal access, Armenia offers hardly any support for immigrant pupils, besides a few programmes for foreigners of Armenian descent, national minorities, and children from countries with bilateral agreements on teaching their cultures of origin. The general ‘tolerance’ course in primary and secondary education does not specifically address the appreciation of immigrants’ languages and cultures. For comparison, most MIPEX countries, including Central and Southeastern European countries, provide additional tuition or immigrant pupils to master the official language, additional funding or teachers for schools with immigrant pupils, and required teacher trainings on immigrants’ needs and intercultural education. Most also support the teaching of immigrant languages and cultures during the school day.

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    The participation of foreigners in public life at local level


    The highest European standard, ratified at present by a handful of states, is the Council of Europe Convention 144 on the participation of foreigners in public life at local level. Signatory countries commit to inform foreigners of their political rights and to encourage and facilitate the creation of consultative bodies with representatives either elected by foreign residents themselves or appointed by their associations. Most EU countries have used a new European Integration Fund to support associations working on integration. Local and national authorities in Portugal, Spain, and Ireland have started to dialogue and consult with associations of foreign residents. For example, the Spanish Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants has an independent chair and issues opinions or reports on any drafts affecting social integration. The Forum has the right to prepare reports, plans, programs on request or own initiative and to formulate its own proposals and recommendations. Members participate extensively on reports and resolutions and secure much government consensus around their recommendations. 

    Going beyond many Central and Southeastern European countries, Armenia is still only halfway to promoting the political participation of foreigners. Local voting rights are found in most European countries and are favourably inclusive in Armenia. All foreigners registered for at least six months can vote in local elections, stand as candidates, and join political parties. Their political liberties are not entirely favourable because they cannot be elected as party leaders or own a majority share in TV or radio companies. More importantly, national and local governments do not structurally finance immigrants’ political associations or consult them in a national consultative body of immigrants. Consultative bodies and implementation policies are missing in most Central and Southeastern European countries, though projects have been piloted in a few (e.g. Greece and the Baltic States).

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    An entitlement to long-term residence


    EU Member States agreed and implemented the EC long-term residence directive (2003/109/EC), with the common objective that the integration of long-term residents will promote economic and social cohesion. Since then, several new immigration countries introduced the entitlement to long-term residence for most temporary residents. For example, Portugal’s 2007 law opened long-term residence to nearly all categories of legal residents and protected them from deportation anyone born in the country, living there since childhood, or raising their children there. Under EU law, long-term residents must enjoy equal rights to employment, education and vocational training, study grants, unemployment benefits, social security, and access to goods and services available to the public, including housing. Long-term residents may also leave the EU for up to 12 consecutive months. Expulsion decisions must take into account several of their life circumstances. 

    Notwithstanding several elements of the policy favourable for integration, permanent residence in Armenia is a slightly insecure status reserved for only a few categories of foreigners. Eligible immigrants can apply after a favourably short residence period of three years and go through a short and low-cost procedure. As in many OSCE countries covered in MIPEX, they can obtain a five-year renewable permanent residence if they have sufficient means of subsistence for themselves and their family. The only other grounds for rejection or withdrawal are fraud, threat to public security or order, and long absences from Armenia. However the procedure can be very discretionary since no clear legal guidelines exist on the interpretation of the residence and subsistence requirements.  Once accepted, permanent residents enjoy some of the same social and economic rights as Armenian nationals, with notable exceptions such as unemployment benefits, free vocational training, and land ownership. Their residence rights are also slightly insecure due to short absences allowed outside Armenia (six months) and few protections against expulsion (only for minors, the elderly over the age of 80, and people fearing persecution). However, the major weakness for integration are the slightly unfavourable eligibility provisions. Permanent residence is not an entitlement for all temporary residents who meet the legal conditions. Instead, the only eligible temporary residents are people with Armenian ancestry, close family in Armenia, or their own business.

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     Immigrants face a slightly uncertain path, with a few significant obstacles, to becoming Armenian citizens. Favourably, dual nationality is accepted in Armenia, as in the majority of MIPEX countries. But unlike several reforming immigration countries in the EU, Armenia more resembles some of the recent immigration countries in Central and Southeastern Europe, where nationality policies remains less favourable for integration. For example, children born in the country are not eligible to be citizens at birth (for recent debates on birthright citizenship, see Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, and Portugal). First-generation immigrants can apply relatively quickly (three years’ legal residence) for naturalisation, but with highly discretionary legal conditions (i.e. criminal record assessment and interview on language and constitution) and a highly discretionary procedure (i.e. authorities’ wide discretionary powers and grounds for rejection). Citizenship requirements like the interview on the constitution are less common across Europe, while language assessments tend to be more professional and proportionate. Another area of weakness in Armenia is the protection against involuntary loss of citizenship and statelessness. Unlike in most OSCE countries surveyed in MIPEX, a naturalised citizen in Armenia can lose their citizenship on several grounds after many years, even if he or she would become stateless.  

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    A basic comprehensive law against discrimination

    Since passage of landmark EU legislation (Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC), great progress has been made in all European MIPEX countries, especially Central European and new immigration countries.  Many of these countries now have strong and independent equality bodies. Romania’s National Council on Combating Discrimination is an independent administrative body with a jurisdictional mandate. Hungary’s Equal Treatment Authority also has legal standing to intervene on behalf of the complainant, while instigating its own procedures against certain public bodies. In the policymaking process, Bulgaria’s Protection against Discrimination Commission can submit binding recommendations to the parliament and government to prepare bills and abolish discriminatory laws.

     Unlike the other MIPEX countries, Armenia lacks a dedicated law and specialised equality agency to protect its residents from discrimination. The only provisions come from the constitution, international law, and vague equality clauses in a few national laws and codes in a few areas, such as employment and education. Without a comprehensive law, the concepts of racial, ethnic, religious, nationality and other forms of discrimination are neither well-defined, nor specifically prohibited in all areas of life, such as vocational training, social protection and advantages, health and housing. The available enforcement mechanisms may be little used or not very effective, scoring only 46/100 for helping victims to seek justice. The existing enforcement mechanisms are only halfway favourable for enforcing these fragmented prohibitions. Civil, criminal, and administrative courts are technically open to all types of discrimination cases and able to use a wide range of compensations and sanctions. Given how hard discrimination is to prove, these channels are likely to be ineffective without specific anti-discrimination mechanisms required by EU law, including the shift in the burden of proof, protection against victimisation, and the role in proceedings for equality NGOs in support or on behalf of the victim. As such, potential victims in Armenia must bring forward a case alone, without a legal role for NGOs and without the help of a specialised equality body, since the Human Rights Defender can only assist victims in cases against the state. The Armenian state has not taken on legal commitments to prevent and punish discrimination among staff and service-providers in the public sector. Nor has it led public dialogue and information campaigns on people’s rights as victims.