(Article from newkosovareport.com)
|Chinese and other immigrants call Kosovo home|
|Monday, 21 July 2008|
In one of the neighborhoods of Prishtina, Kosovo, among many other discount stores, there is the store of the Chinese immigrant Lili.
The uniqueness of her discount store is found within the colorfully painted ornaments of mythic Chinese dragons, hanging high all over the store's ceiling, purposely to draw the attention of the customers. Lili, the saleswoman at the store, is only 20 years old. Born in China, she has been living in Prishtina with her family for the last five years.
"I live in Kosova with my family. I like living among Kosovar people; they are peaceful, energetic and tolerant. My legal temporary immigration papers issued by the Kosova authorities give me permission to live and work here,” says Lili speaking in broken Albanian language with a heavy Chinese accent.
To retain her legal temporary employment and residence in Kosovo, Lili explains how she has been continuously in contact with the authorities. She also has a temporary residential card with the work permit.
Because she loves living in Kosovo, Lili plans to apply for Kosovo permanent residency.
The capital of Kosovo is not her first residence since she moved out of China. After many clandestine traveling around Asia and Eastern Europe looking for a better life, her family had finally decided to settle down in Kosovo.
After 1999, Prishtina's shopping centers expanded. Today, among many established business stores run by immigrants, Chinese and Indian shopkeepers are notably the largest. Incidentally, many citizens of Prishtina have already dubbed a section of the city as the future 'Chinatown'.
It is not only Lili's family that has chosen Kosovo as their new home. In the recent years and months, Kosovo has become a new residence for immigrants from many countries.
The recent statistics on immigration, published by the Department of Migration and Foreign Resident Services, shows that during 2007, the largest numbers of immigrants were Turks, Chinese, Bulgarians and Indians.
Legal procedures to enter the Republic of Kosovo are very simple. There is no specific immigration law yet, so a visa is not required. The only requirements are a valid passport and a sponsor who is a citizen of the Republic of Kosovo and can guarantee the residential accommodation along with employment.
Refki Morina, the director of the Department of Migration and Foreign Resident Services, says that "until now the department would issue only a 90-day temporary residence stamp on a required valid passport. Fifteen days before expiration of the temporary residence stamp, foreigners were required to apply for a temporary immigration residential card, explaining the reasons why they want to reside in Kosovo. If temporary immigrants do not respond within 90 days, fines, jail and deportation come into effect and losing the permission to enter Kosovo for a minimum of 3 years to permanently, depending on the case."
The new immigration bill which with follow European Union guidelines, was introduced by the government and is expected to be voted soon by the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo. The Immigration Law will allow foreign residents who have lived for over 5 years in the Republic of Kosovo to apply for permanent resident status. Procedures included in such applications are fingerprints, an interview and the background check.
For citizens of certain countries, to enter the Republic of Kosovo the law will require a visa, issued by the proper embassy.
Fisnik Rexhepi, adviser to the Minister of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, says: "The issue of visas to enter Kosovo will be regulated under a law which will determine whether the citizens of that country will need a visa. Once the law comes into effect, we will inform the respective authorities of all countries."