Afghan Parliament approves Bilateral Security Agreement

3 Dec 14

AFGHANISTAN, UNITED STATES

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Afghan Parliament has approved a Bilateral Security Agreement governing U.S. defense contractors in Afghanistan.

What does the change mean? Parliamentary approval paves the way for rules to be established on visas, entry and exit procedures, and business registration for U.S. defense contractors working in Afghanistan.

  • Implementation timeframe: The Bilateral Security Agreement takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and entry permits.
  • Who is affected: S. defense contractors and employees working in Afghanistan.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times will depend on the types of visa and permit procedures implemented by a joint commission. The agreement mandates that visa decisions are to be made “expeditiously.”
  • Business impact: The agreement places U.S. contractors and their employees under Afghan law.
  • Next steps: A joint Afghan-U.S. commission will establish procedures for issuing visas and registering U.S. contractors and will decide whether to require work permits.

Background: The Bilateral Security Agreement was signed Sept. 30 and was approved by the Afghan Parliament Nov. 27.

It will impact U.S. companies and employees supplying goods or services in Afghanistan under a contract with U.S. forces by making them subject to Afghan law.

U.S. contractors and their employees currently in Afghanistan with valid visas can remain after Jan. 1 until their existing visas expire, whereupon they must apply to renew their visas. The agreement provides for U.S. contractors to be eligible for multi-entry visas valid for a minimum of one year. It also requires that U.S. contractors register and obtain a business registration license valid for three years.

The agreement is silent on whether U.S. contractors and their employees must obtain work permits, but because they will fall under Afghan law after Jan. 1, it is very possible that domestic laws requiring foreign employees to hold work permits will be interpreted as controlling.

BAL Analysis: The approval of the agreement by Afghanistan’s Parliament is the first step in establishing visa rules for U.S. contractors and foreign employees. Details will be clearer when a joint Afghan-U.S. commission is established and procedures are set, including whether Afghan law requires U.S. contractors to obtain work permits and under what conditions visas-on-arrival will be available to U.S. contractors and employees.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Afghanistan. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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