RUSSIA: Changes to Immigration Regulations

In 2015, Russia will be making several changes, the most important as outlined below, to their immigration policies by use of Federal Law number 357-FL.

Highly Qualified Specialists

The Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) program was introduced in 2010 and allows companies in Russia to employ foreign national workers for up to three years with a simplified application process and without a quota limitation.

Effective 1 January 2015, Federal Law number 357-FL of 24 November 2014 amends existing notification requirements, for holders of Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permits, with fines of up to 1,000,000 RUB for each violation.

From January, companies employing HQS Work Permit holders will not be required to make the following notifications, contrary to previous regulations –

·         Notification to the Federal Migration Service office to report unpaid leave exceeding one calendar month during a twelve month period;

·         Notification to the Tax Authority reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee.

Instead, the following notification will be required:

·         Notification to the Federal Migration Service office reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee within three business days from the day of signing or termination of the labour agreement.

Further, representative offices of foreign companies in Russia will now also have the right to hire foreign national workers under the HQS program. At present, the HQS is only available to Russian companies and branch offices of foreign companies.

CIS Nationals

A CIS national refers to a national of a group of countries called “The Commonwealth of Independent States” (also called the Russian Commonwealth.) This is a regional organisation whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Effective 1 January 2015, work permits for CIS nationals are also to be replaced with a new system of work patents.

Following entry into the country, if a CIS national intends to work, they will need to state this on their migration card. The applicant should then apply for the work patent within 30 calendar days and find local employment (either with a company or an individual) within 60 days of the work patent collection.

Work patents will give the right to work in a particular Russian region for almost any employer for up to 12 months (this can be extended for another 12 month period) and this will be free from any quota. They will not be issued for specific job positions, allowing for transfer without the need to amend the document and will not require a sponsoring employer for the initial application.

If you have any queries about the upcoming changes to the Russian immigraiton regulations, please feel free to contact us.

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