Sergey RyazantsevD.Sc. (Econ.), Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor, Director of the Institute for Demographic Research—Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russian Federation)

Abubakr RakhmonovPh.D. candidate, People’s Friendship University of Russia (RUDN), Junior Research Assistant, Institute for Demographic Research—Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russian Federation)


The article examines the trends in labor migration from Tajikistan. Although Russia and Kazakhstan remain the main labor migration destinations for Tajiks, emigration from Tajikistan to OECD countries is becoming increasingly more noticeable. New Tajik communities are actively forming in the OECD countries, potentially becoming networks of attraction for new migrants in the near future. The forms of labor migrant recruitment in Tajikistan, including digital technologies, are examined. Despite Tajikistan’s attempts to regulate labor migration more actively on the basis of bilateral agreements with OECD countries, Russia still remains attractive for Tajik labor migrants. So far, Russia’s competitive advantages are the absence of a language barrier, the absence of the need to obtain a visa and work permit, a common mentality, and the prospects for obtaining citizenship. However, the rigidity of migration policy and the drop in wages in Russia are potential negative factors that will contribute to the reversal of some of the labor migrant flows from Tajikistan in favor of the OECD countries. Also, the active participation of intermediaries in migrant employment, as well as the OECD countries’ active policy that aims to attract labor migrants will lead to Russia’s loss of a significant part of Tajikistan’s migration potential. The possibility of reorientation of a part of labor emigrants to OECD countries is becoming feasible due to the widespread study of the English language in Tajikistan and the cutbacks in teaching the Russian language, the active development of private and state labor force recruiting systems.

Keywords: labor migration, regular and organized migration, Central Asia, Tajikistan, OECD countries, labor resource recruiting, emigration, Russia, international agreements.


Labor migration from Central Asian countries is currently acquiring new geographic and socio-demographic dimensions. In recent years, there has been a reorientation of migration flows to new directions and regions. These changes are associated with several economic and geopolitical circumstances. On the one hand, the drop in the ruble exchange rate and the decline in ruble-denominated wages and the tightening of migration policies in Russia and Kazakhstan, are forcing some migrant workers to look for new migration destinations. On the other hand, both public and private recruiters are becoming increasingly more active in the labor migration process. Of course, this makes the process of labor migration from Central Asia more regulated and organized. Market demands and countries’ actions also shape the impulses for the development of this regulated and organized form of labor migration. For instance, in recent years, the Republic of Tajikistan has signed a number of memorandums and agreements on labor migration with new partners—Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Korea. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Japan are also showing interest in the labor resources of Central Asia, and specifically Tajikistan. The labor markets of certain Eastern European OECD countries (i.e., Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary) are also experiencing an increasing demand for labor resources. And the labor markets of some OECD countries (i.e., the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia) were discovered by Tajik citizens themselves via the diasporas and social networks that have formed in recent years. As a result, the trend of reorienting labor migrant flows to new directions is gradually gaining momentum. Given the volume of labor resources and the importance of Tajikistan in the Eurasian migration subsystem, the reorientation of migrant worker flows to new destinations may be fraught with significant losses for the Russian and Kazakhstani labor markets in the near future.

Scope and Purpose of Research

This study aims to identify the role of recruiting agencies and interstate agreements in the reorientation of migrant workflows from Tajikistan to new regions. The main sources of information on emigration and labor emigration from Tajikistan are national statistics based on the collection and processing of data on migration cards that are filled out by Tajik citizens upon exiting the country. In addition, the migration statistics data from the Migration Outlook compilation, which is published annually by the OECD, were used. This compilation presents data on the number of Tajik citizens in certain OECD countries, where they have formed a prominent migrant group. A sociological survey was also conducted among twenty-two experts, including representatives of government authorities, scientists, employees of embassies and consulates of Tajikistan, representatives of recruiting agencies in OECD countries. The survey was conducted on the basis of an interview guide, which comprised several blocks of questions, including the reasons and motives for emigration, the specifics of employment abroad, the problems of adaptation and migration plans of labor migrants in the OECD countries, as well as their ties with the homeland and families in Tajikistan. Also, data from surveys conducted by international organizations (World Bank, IOM, ILO, ESCAP) and scientific works on labor migration from Central Asia were utilized.

Concept of Labor Force Recruitment and its Place in Labor Migration

Recruiting is the process of finding and attracting potential workforce to fill vacant positions in an organization. Let us examine certain scholars’ opinions on the subject.

According to Lloyd Byars and Leslie Rue, “Recruitment involves seeking and attracting a pool of people from which qualified candidates for job vacancies can be chosen.”1 William Glueck states that recruiting refers to the types of activities that an organization uses to attract candidates with the appropriate characteristics to help the organization achieve its goal.2 Jean Phillips and Stanley Galli distinguish internal and external recruiting in their Human Resource Management.3 Internal staff recruiting may pose a lower risk, since the organization is already familiar with the employee’s skills and capabilities. Internal recruitment is more cost-effective and faster, so it is easier to fill a job position with less risk to the business.4 Internal recruiting is not accompanied by relocation of labor resources,

External recruiting of human resources is a more difficult path for a company. The decision of a company or region to attract external labor resources is based on a combination of financial and organizational factors. For instance, recruiting agencies may be the most appropriate hiring method if a business or company needs to recruit a large number of low-skilled personnel in a relatively short time. As a rule, recruiting agencies have a large number of potential candidates in their databases, they can carry out background checks, and tests of employees’ skills and qualifications.

At present, external labor resource recruitment transcends not only company boundaries, but also state borders. Tajikistan has significant labor resources and is thus actively involved in the international exchange of labor resources, primarily within the post-Soviet space. And now the geographical boundaries of recruitment are expanding to the second circle of countries outside the former U.S.S.R. It is important to note that the countries that are new destinations of labor migration for Tajikistan’s citizens initially build their labor resource engagement schemes on the recruiting system and the organized labor migration model.

According to the IOM, labor migration is: “Movement of persons from one State to another, or within their own country of residence, for the purpose of employment.”5 According to the international convention On the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (adopted on 18 December, 1990, entered into force on 1 July, 2003): “A migrant worker is a person who will be engaged in, is engaged in or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a citizen.”6 Migrant workers are also sometimes referred to in documents as “foreign workers” or “(temporary) contractual workers.”7

Three forms of labor migration can be distinguished in terms of participation of various actors in the formation of migrant worker flows and the organization of their relocation and adaptation in the labor markets of the host countries:

  • first of all, it includes organized labor migration, which is carried out with the support of state bodies through the mechanisms of interstate agreements, special programs, organized recruitment of labor, etc. Organized forms of labor migration, as a rule, incur higher costs for the state in the short term, but are justified in the long term, since people move in an organized manner to prearranged places and integrate faster into the host society. An organized form of labor migration was widely used within the U.S.S.R. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s, significant labor resources (over 1.5 million people) were organized to develop virgin and fallow lands in northern Kazakhstan and southern Siberia. Also, highly qualified and skilled personnel from the R.S.F.S.R. were actively engaged in industrial enterprises and in the social sphere in the republics of Central Asia and Kazakhstan;8
  • secondly, it entails partially organized labor migration, when market mechanisms act as a driving force, and the actual labor recruiting is carried out by employers, enterprises, companies, private employment agencies (PEAs) and individual intermediaries. In this case, the state may also fulfill a regulatory role, for example, many states provide licensing of labor recruitment intermediaries. It is often very difficult for states to monitor the activities of individuals who recruit through social media in violation of the rights of migrant workers. IOM defines PEA as “Any natural or legal person, independent of the public authorities, which provides one or more of the following labor market services: (a) services for matching offers of and applications for employment, without the private employment agency becoming a party to the employment relationships which may arise therefrom; (b) services consisting of employing workers with a view to making them available to a third party, who may be a natural or legal person (referred to below as a “user enterprise”) which assigns their tasks and supervises the execution of these tasks; (c) other services relating to job seeking, determined by the competent authority after consulting the most representative employers and workers organizations, such as the provision of information, that do not set out to match specific offers of and applications for employment”;9
  • thirdly, independent (unorganized or spontaneous) labor migration, which is carried out by the migrants themselves; as a rule, they are guided by social networks, information and support from relatives, acquaintances, fellow countrymen and diasporas. In this case, numerous difficulties also arise with the adaptation of migrant workers to the labor markets of the host countries due to their ignorance of laws and procedures, language and specifics of labor relations.

OECD Countries as the New Vector for Labor Migration from Tajikistan

Traditionally, the main labor migration destinations for citizens of Tajikistan in recent years have been the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan. There is no need for citizens of Tajikistan to obtain visas to these countries, since there is an agreement on a visa-free regime between Tajikistan and the CIS countries. It is fairly easy for citizens of Tajikistan to obtain a work patent in Russia and Kazakhstan. However, the introduction of economic sanctions by Western countries against Russia, the depreciation of the ruble against the dollar, the rise in the price of patent-related procedures and the complication of registration in Russia, as well as increased activity in attracting citizens of Tajikistan by representatives of certain countries led to the beginning of gradual reorientation of labor migrant flows from Tajikistan to new directions.

As a result, such new migration destinations as the OECD countries and the Persian Gulf have opened up for Tajiks. This fact is recognized at the official level; moreover, there have been repeated suggestions to diversify the flows of labor migrants to new destinations. Minister of Labor, Migration, and Public Employment of the Republic of Tajikistan Sumangul Taghoyzoda had stated that “Migration from Tajikistan to the countries of the Middle East, for example, to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, is becoming more significant.”10 In recent years, the government of Tajikistan has been systematically attempting to reorient migration flows from Russia to other countries, primarily to the rich Persian Gulf states.11 Despite their religious affinity, the Persian Gulf countries have not yet been attracting labor migrants from Tajikistan. It is obvious that the Tajik mentality was formed under different socio-cultural conditions. Currently, Tajiks are not willing to work as servants for wealthy Arab families in the Gulf countries. Tajik scientist R. Ulmasov notes that “the reason for the lack of progress in the search for new destinations for migrants is inadequate qualifications and the language barrier. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and all other countries are in need of highly qualified migrants, and we ourselves do not have enough such personnel.”12

Meanwhile, labor migration from Tajikistan to OECD countries13 is undergoing a rather active development. These countries can rightfully be considered a new destination for Tajik emigration (see Fig. 1).14 Tajik citizens must obtain a visa and work permit in most OECD countries. As a rule, it is difficult for Tajik citizens to do it independently, therefore, these are the spheres of emigration and employment where various intermediaries, both state-affiliated and private, are active. In addition, intermediaries provide assistance with paperwork, return of delayed or unpaid wages, and housing in OECD countries.

Studies demonstrate that labor emigration from Tajikistan to OECD countries located in Eastern and Central Europe (Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic), Western Europe (Germany, Sweden, France, Netherlands), Southern Europe (Italy and Spain), the U.S. and Canada, as well as Asian countries (Turkey, Korea, Japan) is becoming increasingly more significant.

Figure 1

Emigration of Tajikistan Citizens to OECD Countries in 2016, number of people

In percentage terms, Tajik migrants relocated mainly to the following OECD countries: Western and Eastern Europe—51%, the U.S.—30%, Canada—8%, Japan—7%, Korea—4%. Tajiks relocate much less often to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Mexico due to the flight distance, limited emigration options, a shortage of jobs, and high requirements for emigrants in the labor markets of these countries (see Fig. 2).

Figure 2

Migration Geography of Citizens of Tajikistan to OECD Countries in 2005-2016, %

It should be noted that certain OECD countries, presented in statistics as new migration destination for Tajiks, are, in fact, transit states, since Tajik citizens use them as transit corridors for subsequent relocation to more developed countries. For example, the Eastern Europe countries are becoming a springboard for the relocation of Tajiks to Western European and Scandinavian countries; Mexico—for moving to the U.S. and Canada. There are also known cases of deliberate passport destruction by Tajiks when moving to Germany, followed by an appeal to the authorities under the guise of refugees from Afghanistan to obtain the appropriate status and benefits in Germany. These schemes often work because Tajiks and Afghans speak the Farsi (Dari) language, and employees of the German migration service do not possess sufficient socio-cultural knowledge.

Migrants from Tajikistan enter the United States through three main channels. First, there is the green card lottery, which is becoming an increasingly popular legal way to enter the U.S. In 2013, 24,500 citizens of Tajikistan participated in the lottery, and 531 people received the right to enter the United States; in 2015, 34,700 people participated, and 337 people received the right to enter. The number of “green cards” for citizens of Tajikistan in 2018 increased 11-fold compared to 2001 and reached 1,200 (see Fig. 3). There are agencies in Tajikistan that assist Tajik citizens in the preparation of documents for the ‘green card’ lottery.

Figure 3

Number of “Green Cards” Granted to Citizens of Tajikistan to Enter the U.S. in 2001-2018

The second channel of migration to the United States for Tajiks is through obtaining nonimmigrant visas (tourist, business, educational). Once in the United States, the citizens of Tajikistan attempt to legalize themselves. In order to enter the United States, citizens of Tajikistan were issued 1,400 visas in 2014, and 1,700 visas in 2015. After Donald Trump assumed power, the U.S. migration policy has become stricter, affecting migrants from Tajikistan, among others. For instance, the Visa Interview Waiver program, which made it possible for tourists and businessmen to obtain a repeated visa without an interview at the embassy was discontinued.15 Naturally, the number of American visas issued to citizens of Tajikistan has decreased.

On 31 March, 2017, the USA Television website published information that the United States had changed its visa policy towards Tajikistan. The author of the article wrote that citizens of Tajikistan who on private and business trips to the United States can stay in the country for 180 days without a visa. The U.S. Ambassador to Dushanbe reacted to this information: “The U.S. visa policy in Tajikistan has remained the same. News is circulating about major changes in this policy towards Tajikistan. That is not true.”16

On 15 October, 2019, new rules for obtaining green cards within the United States came into force. The purpose of the introduction of the new “public charge rules” was to prevent the issuance of “green cards” to people receiving or planning to receive assistance from the state.17 In fact, it has become much more difficult for those migrants who were already inside the United States to obtain a residence permit (“green card”).

The third channel is immigration visas. Despite the complicated procedures for issuing immigrant visas to the United States, their number for citizens of Tajikistan over the past decade has increased by 2,724, which is almost 5 times more than in 2007 (see Table 1).

Table 1

Immigration Visas to the U.S. Obtained by Citizens of Tajikistan in 2000-2017

The fourth channel is comprised by refugees. In recent years, this flow has increased dramatically. On the one hand, it is induced by the socio-political situation in the country, including the lack of political freedoms and the predicament of certain socio-demographic groups. On the other hand, social media is spreading information that it is easier to move to the United States through this channel than through other forms of migration. As a result, in 2018, the number of refugees from Tajikistan in the United States reached an all-time high of 731 (see Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Number of Refugees from Tajikistan to the U.S. in 1992-2018

Natives of Tajikistan in the United States are engaged in business, work in the service sector, trade, culture and science. Migrants from Tajikistan help their newly arrived compatriots to adapt to the U.S. and assist them in the search for housing and employment. One of the authors observed the replacement of Russian waiters in New York’s Brighton Beach restaurants by immigrants from Central Asian countries, Tajiks among them. Many people from Tajikistan find work in the “Russian-speaking economy” within the United States. In addition, there are rather numerous communities of Bukharian (“Tajik-speaking”) Jews in New York and the state of Iowa.18

Migrants from Tajikistan move to Canada mostly on the basis of immigration applications. The process is based on a score system that factors in the applicants’ age, knowledge, education, work experience and knowledge of languages. Canada issued a total of about 1,300 immigration visas to citizens of Tajikistan between 1991 and 2016 (see Fig. 5).

Figure 5

Number of Immigration Visas to Canada Granted to Citizens of Tajikistan in 1981-2016

There are currently about 5,000 citizens of Tajikistan living in Canada. Tajik communities can be divided into four categories: Persian-speaking and Russian-speaking Tajiks who arrived from Tajikistan; Tajiks from Afghanistan; Tajiks, including Bukharian Jews from Uzbekistan; Tajiks, including Bukharian Jews and Ashkenazi Jews who arrived from Israel and Russia.19 There are approximately 400,000 Bukharian Jews outside the CIS, in Israel, the U.S. and Canada.20 About 500 ethnic Tajik families from Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Israel live in the Canadian province of Quebec. They mainly reside in Montreal (over 250 families), Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Granby (30 families). Also, over 500 Tajik families live in the Toronto area. About 250 families of Tajik Bukharian Jews reside in Forest Hill in Toronto. Another 200 Tajik families live in Calgary and Vancouver.

Thus, new Tajik communities are gradually being formed in some OECD countries. They are becoming quite visible in the socio-economic and socio-cultural spheres. Gradually, these communities are becoming “points of attraction” for new Tajik migrants from Tajikistan and the former U.S.S.R.

Methods of Labor Force Recruitment for Work Abroad Used in Tajikistan

In accordance with Art 17 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan No.1353 On Licensing Certain Types of Activities (dated 23 July, 2016), private employment agencies (PEAs) that are engaged in the employment of Tajik citizens abroad and employ foreign citizens in Tajikistan are required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Public Employment of the Republic of Tajikistan. In addition to a license, PEAs are required to have a certificate of state registration, a certificate of tax registration, all constituent documents and an agreement with the foreign company seeking employees.

In 2013, in Tajikistan, the State Agency for Social Protection, Employment and Migration issued licenses to 103 PEAs to engage foreign labor and send Tajik labor migrants abroad.21 According to the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Tajikistan, at that time, there were only 15 PEAs operating in the country that sent Tajik migrants to work abroad. In the first half of 2013, these PEAs employed more than 11,600 citizens of the Republic of Tajikistan, including 2,500 abroad.22 In 2017, in the structure of the Migration Service of the Republic of Tajikistan, there were 4 centers for counseling labor migrants. Fifteen thousand people asked for help, however, only 85 of them were employed in Russia.23 In that period, 13 PEAs that worked to export labor resources were registered in the country. In the first quarter of 2017, these PEAs helped 349 Tajik citizens to get jobs abroad.

According to the Tax Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan in 2017, 38 organizations that are engaged in employment within the country, as well as abroad, were registered in Tajikistan. In the first half of 2017, they paid 704,000 somoni in taxes, which is the equivalent of $80,000.24 

There are currently three channels (methods) of recruiting labor force for work abroad in the Republic of Tajikistan.

The first is online recruiting. Some agencies offer jobs to Tajik migrants online, since their offices are located in the host countries. Many employment agencies distribute information via Telegram, WhatsApp, or Viber.25 The paperwork for employment is completed online. Most of the vacancies offered by these companies are for low-skilled workers. They do not require a good command of English or the language of the host country. Basic knowledge is required, but in its absence, agencies assist in resolving these issues. Certain construction companies that employ migrants in the EU countries do not deal with the paperwork, therefore, in addition to work experience, they also require the candidate to have a Schengen visa.

The second is recruiting via third countries. Certain OECD recruiting agencies do not have an official representative in Tajikistan and offer jobs to Tajik citizens through offices in neighboring countries. For example, citizens of Tajikistan can apply for employment through the Polish consulate in Tashkent. The decision is made within two weeks.26

The third method is direct recruiting within Tajikistan. In 2020, according to the website Muhojir (“migrant” in Tajik), there are 159 state and non-state agencies in the country that provide jobs for Tajik migrants inside the country and abroad. Of the 159 employment agencies, 146 are state-owned and only 13 are private (see Table 2).

Table 2

Number of Recruiting Agencies in the Republic of Tajikistan (as of 20 October, 2020)

There are 45 employment agencies in the Sughd region, including 37 state and 8 private ones. The best-known is the private agency Imkon Development and Employment Center. Most of the PEAs engaged in employment abroad are located in the Sughd region.

Khatlon region is home to 53 employment agencies. Most of them are located in the city of Bokhtar (until 2018—the city of Kurgan-Tube) and the city of Kulob. The most prominent company that offers employment abroad is the Overseas Employment Agency in the city of Bokhtar.

There are 24 employment agencies in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, including 20 state and 4 private ones. The best-known are the Muhojir and Rahnamoi Muhojir PEAs in the city of Khorog, which offer employment within the country as well as abroad.

A total of 28 agencies (all state-affiliated) operate in the Region of Republican Subordination (RRS). In the RRS, the Sector of the Migration Service in the city of Vakhdat is actively engaged in the sphere of employment abroad. Additionally, many RRS residents come to the city of Dushanbe to find other PEAs that offer employment abroad.

Nine firms operate in Dushanbe, including 8 state-owned and 1 private. TOJIKOYANDASOZ (“Tajik future” in Tajik) agency offers employment opportunities in the European Union. The agency mostly offers vacancies for workers in factories and plants, warehouses, in the construction sphere, in meat factories (slaughterhouses), as well for plumbers, electricians and welders. The agency assists in obtaining certificates and documents required by the embassy. Citizens of Tajikistan with a category B driving license can work as taxi drivers in Lithuania; with categories C and E—as long-haul truck drivers in the EU countries. The main countries of employment are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Norway. TOJIKOYANDASOZ offers citizens of Tajikistan an annual Type D Schengen visa (national visa).27

Dushanbe is also home to agencies that offer work-study programs in the EU countries. For example, StudiumWeg is a youth consulting agency that offers work-study opportunities in Germany and Austria.28 The agency offers the following programs: Au Pair (childcare and household assistance); FSJ / FöJ / BFD (volunteer work: work in hotels and in the social sphere — caring for the sick, the elderly, children, household help, etc.); Ausbildung (work and study with a social package, salary, training); work in environmental and cultural programs.

Au Pair (“equal” in French). The program invites employees to live with a host family and help with childcare, household chores, and housework.29 Working hours are 20-30 hours per week. The length of an employee’s stay depends on the wishes of the participants, the host family, and the laws of the country. Some countries have set minimum and maximum lengths of an employee stay, which range from three to twenty-four months. In Germany, the duration of the program is six to twelve months.30

FSJ / FöJ / BFD volunteer program—voluntary social year abroad. Under this program, candidates can find work in boarding houses, hospitals, homes for the elderly or disabled, youth hotels (hostels), agricultural farms, environmental organizations, sports youth associations, parks, etc. The candidate must be between 18 and 26 years of age, or between 18 and 40 for the BFD program. Basic knowledge of the German language (level A1-A2) is required. The program is usually designed for one year. As a rule, accommodations for the employees are provided by the inviting organization. Monthly wages range from 120 to 600 euros.

Ausbildung (Duale System) is a work-study program. Participants can simultaneously work five days a week and study one day a week. The salary, depending on the specialty, ranges from 600 to 1,200 euros per month. The duration of vocational education depends on the chosen specialty and ranges from two to three and a half years.31 Over 600,000 vacancies are offered annually in Germany within the Ausbildung framework.32

Tajikistan’s government structures also have a vested interest in sending Tajik migrants abroad. On 4 June, 2015 in Dushanbe, the Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Public Employment of the Republic of Tajikistan opened a new building of the Agency for Employment Abroad.33 The agency’s main goal is to organize the regulated labor migration of Tajiks outside of Tajikistan. The Agency’s opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Labor, Migration, and Public Employment of the Republic of Tajikistan Sumangul Taghoyzoda, the British Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan Hugh Philpott, the head of the IOM mission in the Republic of Tajikistan Tajma Kurt, the head of the U.K. Department for International Development in Central Asia Bob Leverington and others. As noted by Minister Sumangul Taghoyzoda, in the first year the government of Tajikistan allocated 100,000 somoni (about $18,000) from the state budget to support the agency’s staff. The agency staff comprises 27 people. In 2015, the Agency for Employment Abroad opened its branches in other regions of Tajikistan. In addition to state budget funds, the U.K. Department for International Development provided the agency with financial and technical assistance in the amount of over $150,000.

The agency provides jobs for Tajik citizens, including jobs in other OECD countries. For example, in 2019, over one thousand Tajik citizens applied to the Foreign Employment Agency to work in Turkey and Poland.34 Here are excerpts from an interview with a labor migrant from Tajikistan in Turkey, who previously worked in Russia, where he compares the migration conditions in Russia and Turkey. A resident of the city of Dushanbe, M. Khusainov, came to work in Russia several times: “I worked in Russia. Employers often did not pay wages on time. The police were always on my case. It was difficult to file the documents. I turned to the Agency for Employment Abroad for help. Found a job in Turkey through the Agency. The documents were drawn up in two days. Two days later I was hired. I started working in the tourist industry, in a hotel. Accommodation and food are provided at the expense of the employer. An eight-hour working day.”35

According to the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Tajikistan, citizens who have gone abroad to work through intermediary companies have better social security and working conditions. In the event of any difficulties, i.e., non-payment of wages, the recruiting agency protects the rights of its clients.

Interstate Agreements between Tajikistan and OECD Countries in the Sphere of Labor Migration Regulation

Currently, the Republic of Tajikistan has signed bilateral agreements on the regulation of labor migration with the Republic of Kazakhstan, Qatar, the Kyrgyz Republic, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Turkish Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan. A labor agreement with the Republic of Korea is slated to be signed in the near future. Meanwhile, citizens of Tajikistan can work in OECD countries only with a work visa.

A visa-free regime for citizens of Tajikistan exists only with the Republic of Turkey. However, one cannot work there without a work visa either.36 According to the agreement, citizens of Tajikistan can stay in Turkey without a visa for 90 days every six months (180 days). This decree was signed on 11 November, 2018 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Previously, citizens of Tajikistan were allowed to remain in Turkey without a visa for 30 days. The visa-free regime gives Tajik citizens a reason to apply for employment in Turkey. However, such employment cannot be legal. Despite this fact, Turkey is confidently becoming a new region of ​​employment for Tajik migrants.37

On 16 April, 2018, a memorandum of understanding in the sphere of labor resources was signed between the Republic of Tajikistan and the UAE. As noted by the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratization of the United Arab Emirates Nasser Bin Thani Al-Hamli, the Memorandum of Understanding is a sign of the desire of the two countries to strengthen their relations in the labor supply sphere.38 In accordance with this memorandum, citizens of Tajikistan can engage in labor activities in the UAE on the basis of a concluded labor contract between a worker and an employer.

On 5 February, 2019, an agreement was signed in Doha on the regulation of the labor force and on the organized recruitment of Tajik citizens for temporary employment abroad between the Republic of Tajikistan and Qatar.39 Tajik migrants are now able to find employment in Qatar on the basis of an employment contract.40 Qatar will submit a list of in-demand specialists to the Agency for Employment Abroad under the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Tajikistan. Tajikistan, in turn, will prepare and send them to work in Qatar. According to the agreement, Tajik migrants must take an Arabic language course prior to traveling to Qatar. Tajik migrants will be brought to Qatar through the Agency for Employment Abroad under the Ministry of Labor, rather than through private agencies or firms, based on requests from employers from Qatar. An agreement is concluded between the employee and employers, which will be governed by the Qatari labor code. The agreement also stipulates that the employer must provide the employee with housing, insurance, travel expenses, provide normal working conditions and pay compensation in the event of an accident.41

The Republic of Korea is a new destination of labor emigration for citizens of Tajikistan. So far, there is no bilateral agreement on labor migration between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Korea. Due to the slowdown in the growth of the national economy, the Korean parliament has suspended the signing of any agreements with new countries in the field of labor migration. However, Seoul promised Tajikistan that it would sign an agreement on labor migration as an exception, as reported by Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan Azim Ibrokhimov.42 On 24 January, 2020, the Minister of Labor, Migration, and Public Employment of Tajikistan Gulru Jabborzoda received the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Li Vuchel in Dushanbe. During the meeting, they discussed issues of cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Tajikistan in the migration sphere. Particular attention was paid to accelerating the signing of an agreement between the two countries on the organization of labor migration of Tajik citizens to Korea, the draft of which is being considered by the government of the host country. In this regard, Jabborzoda proposed to sign the aforementioned agreement on organizing the supply of labor from Tajikistan to Korea under the program previously endorsed by the Ministry of Labor and the provinces of Korea on the seasonal recruitment of Tajik citizens to work in this country.43


Labor migration from Tajikistan rose sharply in 1994-1995 due to the complex situation after the civil war, the transformation of the economy, changes in the structure of employment and the rise in unemployment. Currently, labor migration is the largest and most dynamic emigration flow from Tajikistan. In fact, every single aspect of the life of the Tajik society would be affected by labor migration.

Russia and Kazakhstan are the main labor emigration destinations for citizens of Tajikistan, along with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to a certain extent. The role of the OECD countries grew gradually along with that of the CIS countries. Against the background of the widespread study of the English language in Tajikistan itself and the cutbacks in Russian language teaching, the active development of both private and state labor recruiting agencies, the possibility of reorienting some labor emigrants to OECD countries is becoming quite real. New Tajik communities are actively being formed in the OECD countries, and they may soon become networks of attraction for new migrants from Tajikistan.

Migrants from Tajikistan to Russia and Kazakhstan do not require visas. Due to this fact, PEAs practically do not work with these migration destinations. But when new vectors of labor migration, such as OECD countries, opened up for Tajik migrants, the role of PEAs increased significantly, since these countries do require work visas and work permits. As a rule, it is difficult for Tajik citizens to go through the process independently, therefore, various intermediaries, both state and private, are actively working in these areas of emigration and employment. In addition, intermediaries provide assistance with paperwork, return of delayed or unpaid wages and housing rental in OECD countries.

Despite Tajikistan’s attempts to regulate labor migration on the basis of bilateral agreements with OECD countries more actively, Russia still remains attractive for Tajik labor migrants. Russia’s advantages include the absence of a language barrier, the absence of the need to obtain a visa and work permit, a common mentality, the prospects of obtaining citizenship.44 However, the rigidity of migration policy and the drop in wages in Russia are the negative factors that will contribute to the partial reversal of the flows of labor migrants from Tajikistan in favor of the OECD countries. Under these conditions, Russia should reduce the unreasonable migration control pressure on Tajik migrants in terms of registration procedures and police checks. Otherwise, the active participation of intermediaries in the employment of migrants, as well as an active policy of attracting labor migrants from Central Asian countries to the OECD will lead to the loss of a significant part of Russia’s migration potential. 

Study conducted under a grant provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant No. 19-310-90079\19). Back to text
1 L.L. ByarsL.W. RueHuman Resource Management, Irwin, Boston. Homewood, 1991, p. 144. Back to text
2 See: W.F. GlueckBusiness Policy and Strategic Management, McGraw-Hill, 1984, p. 324. Back to text
3 See: J.M. Phillips, S.M. Gully, Human Resource Management, Cengage Learning, 2013, pp. 152-153. Back to text
4 See: J.A. Breaugh, Recruiting and Attracting Talent, SHRM Foundation, 2009, pp. 1-2, available at Back to text
5 Key Migration Terms [Link]. Back to text
6 Art 2.1. Back to text
7 Glossary on Migration, International Migration Law, IOM, 2019, pp. 134-135, available at [Link]. Back to text
8 See: E.L. Plisetsky, “Sovremennye migratsionnye protsessy v Rossii,” Geografiya, No. 37, 2003, pp. 4-11, available at [Link]. Back to text
9 IOM Report on the Assessment of the Employment Structure of Private Employment Agencies, 2016, available at [Link]. Back to text
10 “Rabota v pustyne: chego zhdat migrantam iz RT v bogatykh arabskikh stranakh,” SPUTNIK Tajikistan, 21 July, 2017, available at [Link]. Back to text
11 See: Kh. Khurramov, “Pereorientatsia migrantov: Katar vmesto Rossii?,” Radio Ozodi, Tajkistan, 28 September, 2020, available at [Link]. Back to text
12 Quoted from: Ibidem. Back to text
13 The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K., and the U.S. Back to text
14 See: S.V. Ryazantsev, Sh.Yu. Akramov, A.Kh. Rakhmonov, “Emigratsia iz Tadzhikistana v strany OESR: tendentsii, posledstvia, perspektivy,” Nauchnoe obozrenie. Ekonomika i pravo, Series 1, 2018, No. 3-4, pp. 22-34. Back to text
15 See: A. Barinova, “Kak izmenilis pravila poluchenia vizy v SShA,” National Geographic, Russia, 31 January, 2017, available at [Link]. Back to text
16 “‘Eto nepravda’. Posolstvo SShA schitaet novost ob otmene viz dlia tadzhikov ‘feykom’,” Radio Ozodi, Tajikistan, 2 April, 2017, available at [Link]. Back to text
17 See: “Novye pravila v SShA: kto ne smozhet poluchit gran-kartu?” Deutsche Welle, available at [Link]. Back to text
18 See: S.V. Ryazantsev, Sh.Yu. Akramov, A.Kh. Rakhmonov, op. cit. Back to text
19 Ibidem. Back to text
20 Ibidem. Back to text
21 See: N. Azimurod, “Chastnyye agentstva zaniatosti trudoustroili v Tadzhikistane svyshe 11,6 tysiachi grazhdan,” 1 August, 2013, available at [Link]. Back to text
22 Ibidem. Back to text
23 See: The U.N. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Regular Reports of Member States to be submitted in 2017, available in Russian at Back to text
24 See: “Rabstvo: realii tadzhikskoy trudovoy migratsii,” 8 January, 2018, available at [Link]. Back to text
25 See: “Rabota za granitsey,”, 7 February, 2020, available at [Link]. Back to text
26 See: Ya. Shodmon, “Mintruda: vse bolshe tadzhikistantsev ishchut rabotu v Turtsii i Polshe,” 10 February, 2019, available at [Link]. Back to text
27 See: “Rabota v Evrope v Dushanbe, Avtovokzal,” 27 June, 2019, available at [Link]. Back to text
28 See: “‘StudiumWeg’ agentstvo tvoego budushchego,” available at [Link]. Back to text
29 See: “‘Au Pair’—rabota za granitsey,” available at [Link]. Back to text
30 See: “Programma ‘Au Pair’ v raznykh stranakh mira,” available at [Link]. Back to text
31 See: S. Babkin, “Ausbildung—nemetskoe srednee professionalnoe obrazovanie,” 10 June, 2017, available at [Link]. Back to text
32 See: “‘StudiumWeg’ agentstvo tvoego budushchego.” Back to text
33 See: “V Dushanbe otkrylos novoe Agentstvo po trudoustroystvu za rubezhom,”, 8 June, 2015, available at [Link]. Back to text
34 See: Ya. Shodmon, op. cit. Back to text
35Ibidem. Back to text
36 See: Dzh. Radzhabov, “Perspektiva dlia migrantov: tadzhikskikh grazhdan zhdut na rabotu v Polshe i Turtsii,” 7 February, 2020, available at [Link]. Back to text
[Link] See: “Turtsia uvelichila srok bezvizovogo prebyvania dlia grazhdan Tadzhikistana,” Resmi Gazete, 12 November, 2018, available at [Link]. Back to text
38 See: N. Znaikin, “OAE i Tadzhikistan naladiat obmen rabochey siloy,” 19 April, 2018, available at [Link]. Back to text
39 See: “V Mintruda rasskazali, kak izmenilsia potok migratsii iz Tadzhikistana,” SputnikTj, 6 February, 2020, available at. [Link]. Back to text
40 See: “Tadzhikistan i Katar podpisali soglashenie o trudovykh migrantakh,” ТаджикТА, 5 February, 2019, available at [Link]. Back to text
41 See: A. Zarifi, “‘Na zarabotki v Katar’: uzhe letom pervaia gruppa tadzhikskikh migrantov otpravitsia v arabskuiu stranu,” 5 February, 2019, available at [Link]. Back to text
42 See: “Seul poobeshchal Dushanbe ‘v vide iskliuchenia’ podpisat soglashenie po migratsii,” Azia Plus, 18 July, 2019, available at [Link]. Back to text
43 See: “Dushanbe v ocherednoy raz poprosil Seul uskorit otpravku tadzhikskikh migrantov v Iuzhnuiu Koreiu,” Azia Plus, 24 January, 2020, available at [Link]. Back to text
44 See: A.K. Rakhmonov, R.V. Manshin, “Trends and Strategies of Labor Emigration from Tajikistan to OECD Countries,” RUDN Journal of Economics, No. 27 (1), 2019, pp. 159-168. Back to text

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