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FAQ | Suspended Operations in Russia and Belarus

FAQ

FAQ | Suspended Operations in Russia and Belarus

On March 7, 2022, Upwork announced our intention to suspend business operations in Russia and Belarus.

Please review FAQs and information related to this announcement below. For support and updates related to sanctions in Ukraine and Russia, please visit this page.

As the world’s work marketplace, Upwork’s mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has challenged our mission, values, and our operational ability to bring economic empowerment to those who seek it. Upwork will be suspending operations in Russia and Belarus, starting today and taking full effect by May 1, 2022. 

The first step will be shutting down Upwork’s support for new business generation in Russia and Belarus. Over the next few days, freelancers and clients in Russia and Belarus will no longer be able to sign up for new accounts, initiate new contracts, and be visible in search.

We honor the relationships that exist between our customers and recognize the swift adjustments that they will need to make as they process this announcement. As such, existing contracts with talent and clients in the region will remain open, with final billing due by May 1, 2022.

We made this decision with the utmost consideration. From the beginning of the invasion, Upwork has been fervently working to support the safety, security, and well-being of our many team members in the region, as well as the business needs of our customers. We fully understand the significant impact this decision has on our Upwork community in Russia and Belarus, and we want these customers to know that if and when they are able to relocate to regions where we operate, we will be eager to support them in continuing their work on our platform. Additionally, should the geopolitical situation in Russia and Belarus change, we hope to be able to resume operations.

Our hearts and support go out to all those affected by this senseless aggression against Ukraine. We hope that a path to peace is ahead for Ukraine, and that we are able to bring our mission back to Russia and Belarus in the future.

To read the full message from our CEO, please visit this page.

Below, you’ll find links to Help Center resources as well as FAQ’s that should help you navigate questions related to your specific situation.

Questions regarding impact to Russia and Belarus

Clients located in Russia and Belarus with active contracts will have until May 1, 2022, to complete work with freelancers. Clients located in Russia and Belarus will not be able to contract freelancers for new work effective March 7, 2022.

Beginning on March 7, 2022, Upwork will not allow new freelancers or clients located in Russia or Belarus to join and will start suspending all new business where either a client or a freelancer is located within Russia or Belarus. Current customers with previous contracts will have until May 1, 2022 to complete all billing.

All contracts still open following May 1, 2022 will be canceled, but we will allow the standard period after May 1 for the client to approve any pending invoices or milestones, and a reasonable time for the freelancer to withdraw funds.

We encourage freelancers and clients to submit hours, withdraw funds, and complete contracts as soon as possible as we cannot guarantee the continued availability of our payment partners in the region.

Yes, starting March 7, 2022, Upwork will suspend the onboarding of new accounts for clients and freelancers located in Russia or Belarus.

Yes. If and when you are able to relocate, we will be ready to support you in continuing your important work on our platform. Please follow these steps to verify your new address:

  1. Ensure your address is current. If it is not current, update your address here.
  2. Once your address is current, you may appeal this decision by emailing support-appeals@upwork.com.

If you wish to work with your freelancer directly, outside of Upwork, we provide the option to do this easily, with a payment of the Upwork Conversion Fee.

Before converting, Upwork recommends that you confirm for yourself how various sanction and payment challenges may impact your business relationships outside of Upwork.

We recommend following basic offboarding steps, such as disabling systems access and changing relevant account passwords, as soon as a contract has ended, to ensure any internal systems and data remain secure. Here are some resources we think you’ll find useful:

You may continue invoicing on current projects until May 1, 2022. Some banks, payments, and payment processors in Russia and Belarus have been sanctioned, are experiencing delays and/or have decided to suspend operations in the region and these may further challenge the ability to continue any current projects. Upwork encourages you to evaluate these changes as you consider whether or not to continue supporting active contracts.

As you may know, Upwork has suspended business in Russia and Belarus, which means that payment processing to and from these regions is no longer available. If you have relocated to a region where Upwork operates, we encourage you to appeal for reinstatement of your account. Note that in order to resume bank account transfers, you must also update your payment information to include an account with an address outside of these regions. Due to these limitations, also be advised that any requests for a Confirmation of Services (COS) form where the recipient is a financial institution located in Russia or Belarus cannot be accommodated.

Customers with undisbursed funds and active contracts will be provided with a wind-down period to wrap up outstanding projects until May 1, 2022. After May 1, we will allow the standard period for client review and approval and security, and a reasonable amount of time for freelancers to withdraw funds.

We encourage you to complete projects and withdraw funds as soon as possible, as we cannot guarantee the continued availability of our payment partners.

Many banks, payment processors, and payment providers in the region are facing sanctions, service disruptions or have chosen to suspend operations, which may impact customers’ ability to withdraw funds or pay for services. We recommend checking with your banks on any restrictions that may apply.

All invoicing, both hourly and milestones, must be complete by May 1, 2022. After May 1, 2022, we will allow for the usual period of client review and security period, and a reasonable time thereafter to withdraw your funds.

We encourage you to complete projects and withdraw funds as soon as possible as we cannot guarantee the continued availability of our payment partners.

If you are unable to withdraw funds in your account by the wrap-up date, they will be retained for you to withdraw once the policy changes or you relocate outside of the impacted area, unless Upwork is otherwise required by law to take a different action. We have updated Section 6.3 of our User Agreement to account for this. Many banks, payment processors, and payment providers in the region are facing sanctions, service disruptions or have chosen to suspend operations, which may impact customers’ ability to withdraw funds or pay for services. We recommend checking with your banks on any restrictions that may apply.

Freelancers located in Russia and Belarus will be unavailable and unreachable through the Upwork platform beginning May 1, 2022, although some payments may continue to wrap up after that date. However, Upwork will not be removing them entirely. If, for example, a freelancer relocates and provides proof of new residency, they will be able to resume work on the platform.

We understand that this will have a significant impact on our Upwork community in Russia and Belarus, many of whom have nothing to do with or actively oppose the Russian government’s decision to wage an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Please know that we do not take this decision lightly. If and when community members from those impacted countries are able to relocate or if the situation changes, we will be ready to support them in continuing their work on our platform.

Upwork shares in your condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine and hopes for the return of peace and stability for all of those impacted. We recognize that relocation is not feasible for all of our impacted customers. However, if you wish to continue working on Upwork, you may wish to review how to qualify for an appeal by means of relocation outside of Russia or Belarus.

Yes, you will be billed for all approved freelancer invoices as usual. We will safeguard the funds for the talent in the event they move out of Russia or Belarus or the situation changes unless Upwork is otherwise required by law to take a different action.

Agency accounts located within Russia or Belarus will be affected by our decision to suspend business in Russia and Belarus. This means that as of March 7, 2022, such agencies will not be permitted to enter into any new contracts on Upwork, but can continue to bill on open contracts through May 1, 2022. After May 1, Upwork will close the agency account which will cancel all open contracts and no freelancer will be able to perform contracts under the agency, even if they are not located in Russia or Belarus. We encourage you to complete projects and submit payment as soon as possible as we cannot guarantee continued availability of our payment partners in the region.

If you have relocated outside of Russia or Belarus and believe this change in policy no longer applies to you or that we have made an error, please follow these steps to verify your new address:

  • • Ensure your address is current. If it is not current, log into your account and update your address in “Settings.”
  • • Once your address is current, you may appeal this decision by emailing support-appeals@upwork.com. We will work to respond to your appeal as quickly as possible, however, response times may be delayed due to high volume. 

Please note that even if you change your address or are only visiting and have a permanent address elsewhere, if you are currently located in either Russia or Belarus, your account will remain affected until you leave these countries.

Agency accounts located within Russia or Belarus will not be permitted to enter into any new contracts on Upwork, but can continue to bill on open contracts through May 1, 2022. This means that as of today, freelancers outside of Russia and Belarus will not be permitted to enter into any new contracts on Upwork through their agencies that are located in Russia or Belarus. However, hourly invoices and fixed price milestones can continue on any open contracts through this agency until May 1, 2022, but we cannot guarantee continued availability of our payment partners in the region. After May 1, Upwork will close the agency account which will cancel all open contracts and no freelancer will be able to perform contracts under the agency, even if they are not located in Russia or Belarus.

If you believe the agency owner has relocated outside of Russia and believe this change in policy no longer applies to the agency or that we have made an error, please reach out to your agency owner and request they update their profile address and submit for an appeal by emailing support-appeals@upwork.com. Keep in mind that you cannot appeal this decision on behalf of the Agency Owner.

All contracts that were sent and accepted prior to these actions on March 7, 2022, are considered active and can continue to move forward with work and billing through May 1, 2022. This is true even if there is a start date in the future. All contracts still open following May 1, 2022, will be canceled, but we will allow the standard period after May 1 for the client to approve any pending invoices or milestones, and a reasonable time for the freelancer to withdraw funds. We encourage customers to submit hours, withdraw funds, and complete contracts as soon as possible as we cannot guarantee the continued availability of our payment partners in the region.

Questions from Ukrainians / from Ukrainian freelancers

Upwork is concurrently working on measures–both immediate and rolling out soon–to further support Ukrainian freelancers and the broader community in need, including:

  • • A $1 million donation to Direct Relief International to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
  • • Product enhancements to make it easier for Ukrainian freelancers to preserve the careers they have worked so hard to establish, whether or not they are currently able to work. 
  • • Programs to make it easier for clients to maintain their existing relationships with and provide financial assistance to talent in Ukraine.

We will share more information about those programs soon.

We selected Direct Relief based on their mission and their work to provide requested medical aid, from oxygen concentrators to critical care medicines, while preparing to offer longer-term medical aid to people displaced or affected by the conflict.

No, we are not. Clients are still able and encouraged to work with Ukrainian talent.

We will soon be rolling out programs to make it easier for clients to maintain their existing relationships with and provide financial assistance to talent in Ukraine. We will share as soon as they are available.

Clients are welcome to provide their talent with bonuses at their discretion. You can find out more about how to do so here.