IT Visa has been available in Uzbekistan since April 1, 2022. This new tool allows foreign specialists to enter Uzbekistan and get a residence permit with no hassle.
Among those who are eligible for IT Visa are foreign investors, founders of IT Park resident companies and IT professionals. Members of their families can obtain a visitor visa. Residents of the Uzbek IT Park can take advantage of a bunch of benefits including exemption of taxes and customs duties. However, they still have to pay income tax (7.5%) and dividends tax (5%).
To support newcomers the IT Park is ready to provide assistance in the registration of a company, the opening of a bank account, registration in a tax authority and so on. The park is doing so via its special program TashRush.
According to Eugene Lukyanchikov, head of the business development department in Russian company Citymobil, the main IT hubs today are located in Armenia, Turkey, Georgia and Uzbekistan.
«Loads of my colleagues and fellow countrymen have fled to these countries. Some of them just followed their friends; some wanted to live near the sea, while others have no international passports. For example, Russians can travel to Armenia without a passport as the internal ID is enough. This factor drives the new IT community tp gather in that country,» he said.
IT professionals from Belarus and Russia
Sergey Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications believes that because of the war between Russia and Ukraine about 50-70,000 people have already left the country. This was the first wave of immigrants.
The second wave is stuck in Russia because of the sharp growth of costs for airline tickets, accommodations abroad and difficulties in money transfers.
«However, the second wave is inevitable. According to our forecast, about 70,000 or even 100,000 people are going to leave Russia in April. All these people are IT professionals,» said Plugotarenko.
He suggests other countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan and China introduce new mechanisms of relocation for these specialists.
At the same time, on March 25 Concord, a company that belongs to Eugene Prigozhin, a friend of Vladimir Putin, stepped up with an initiative to prevent IT professionals from leaving the country in order to protect the «strategic interests of Russia.» This initiative was published in the Russian social network VK, but later this post was deleted as the Kremlin and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of Russia turned against the initiative.
«The government won’t impose any bans on IT professionals if they want to leave the country,» said Dmitry Chernyshenko, vice prime minister of Russia.
Uzbekistan started to attract foreign professionals long before the war in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the current year, the IT Park has attracted more than 3,000 foreign IT professionals via its program TashRush.
Under this program the IT Park assists foreigners in registering companies, finding offices and recruiting personnel. Moreover, the IT Park also helps locals to get a job in its resident companies.
As the IT Park reported, from the end of February to the middle of March, about 1,400 professionals came to the park via TashRush. The vast majority of them (98%) are citizens of Belarus and 2% are Russians.
Since March 16, Uzbekistan has lifted all restrictions linked to COVID-19 for foreigners. If a visitor has no vaccination certificate he or she must have a negative result of PCR test with a QR code (the test must be passed up to 72 hours before crossing the border) or pass a test right after entering the country.
Interest in «legionnaires»
Uzbekistan embraces the development of the IT industry. Last December Sherzod Shermatov, the country’s minister for development of IT and communications said that over 2022-2026 Uzbekistan is going to implement a range of investment IT projects worth $1.5 billion.
Also, the ministry plans to export IT products and services for $1 billion by 2028. The official then noted that the export of IT products differs from the export of other goods as it doesn’t require any imported raw materials while added cost is almost 100%.
According to Lukyanchikov, Uzbekistan did its best to attract foreign professionals. The IT Park actively supports newcomers, foreigners can open a bank account with no hassle, locals are friendly, and the IT-Visa is granted for three years.
«They took these measures really fast; therefore, many have started to choose Uzbekistan while considering different options,» he said.
However, the expert noted that the cost of living in the Uzbek capital city is quite high. In terms of this rate, Tashkent is close to Turkey and Georgia, where expats can enjoy living on a seacoast. That’s why many have already moved to these countries from Tashkent.
«Finding a job is not an easy task in any CIS country. However, the IT sector in Russia is much bigger, it’s mature and the level of salaries is higher as well as the level of experience a professional can gain here,» commented Lukyanchikov.