1000 Foreigners visit Erbil Residency Eevery Day
Brigadier General Yadgar Anwar, Director General of the Residency Directorate of Erbil Province said in an interview with a Turkish news agency that approximately 1000 foreigners visit his directorate on daily basis asking for residency permission.
According to Anwar, majority of the visitors are from Turkey and Iran.
Erbil Residency Directorate has three main offices, Erbil International Airport Office, Haji Omaran Border Office and Soran Border Office in addition to the four offices inside the Syrian refugee camps around Erbil.
Additionally, there are separate branches for Asians, Westerners and Africans, each of which has different regulations.
“In Kurdistan, foreigners who apply for residency are initially given a 15day visa,” Anwar said. “Majority of them comes for business and some of them stay here for work or investment purposes.”
According to Anwar, since mid-December 2013 until the end of February 2014, they had had an average of 1,000 residency applicants per working day.
“Everyone who has the required criteria and has all the required documentation is given a residency permit,” Anwar said during the interview. “There are different types of permits in Kurdistan, those who have contracts with companies need to have documents from their employers or the government, while tourists are given up to three months permit without the need for a blood test, while those coming for work, busi- ness or investment need to do a blood test and have a sponsor to get a residency permit.”
“The Kurdistan Region opened to the world very quickly soon after the fall of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003,” added Mr. Anwar.
Anwar said that since they have moved from paper-based to electronic system for processing applications in 2010, their work has become more organized and highly efficient. Before that, people used to have a lot of complaints about the procedure, but now, according to Anwar everything goes very smoothly.
“Provided that all prerequisites are available and all paperwork is com- plete, a foreigner can get his/her residency permit in 10 to 15 minutes. Now we process 1,100 applications every day,” said the Director.
Erbil Residency Director talked about the facilitations they have made for the Syrian refugees who are currently residing in Erbil.
He said: “Large numbers of Syrian Kurds rushed into Kurdistan Region and in the beginning we couldn’t implement the same system of the directorate in the offices inside the camps, but later and under the supervision of the Erbil Governor and in coordination with the UNISCO, we implemented an electronic system for the refugees as well and the permit they get comes with a lot of useful information.”
Commenting on the issue of foreigners travelling from other parts of Iraq to Kurdistan Region, Anwar said that it is not of great concern and foreigners can travel to Kurdistan by air or land.
“Sometimes there are issues with the visas that are not obtained from the Iraqi Embassies, and we cannot accept visas issued by other entities. We don’t want to create a problem but foreigners need to obtain visa from the Iraqi Embassies to enter Kurdistan."
Anwar also added that they are currently working with the central government to unify the residency system in Kurdistan and Iraq since at the present Baghdad does not recognize Kurdistan’s residency system.