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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign workers are required to have the proper visas and work permits in Russia, as established by immigration laws.  Work permits must be secured for employees, and sponsored by a locally licensed and incorporated entity, which can be a problem for companies just entering the Russian market.  If you have yet to complete the incorporation process you can use an outsourced management company or GEO Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits.

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The process of employing foreign nationals in Russia typically requires the worker to be issued a work visa for entry into Russia, a work permit held by the employee and an employer permit held by the company, and an employment agreement between the employer and worker.

The type of visa required will depend on the purpose of the individual’s entry into Russia and the nature of their work. Foreign citizens from most Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries do not require entry visas, but do require identification documents and other residence entry permits. The issuance of visas is conducted through consulates of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

A work permit is required for any foreign nationals who are not from a CIS country and are not hold residency status in the Russian Federation. The work permit must be acquired by the employer either through applying for an employer permit, or through obtaining an individual work permit for “visa nationals”.

Process:

Visa Application

  • The foreign subsidiary or representative office of a foreign firm in Russia must invite the employee into Russia for the purposes of employment.
  • The invitation is issued through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Moscow, which instructs the Russian consulate in the employee’s country to issue a visa, or to instruct the employee to take the invitation to the Russian consulate.
  • A visa service company may be used to facilitate this process between the MFA and employee for a fee. These companies will be fully updated on the immigration procedures and any legislative changes.
  • The employee brings their passport, a visa application form and a processing fee (varies depending on consulate and processing speed) to the consulate. When applying for a multiple entry visa, an HIV test for the recent 3 months may be required.
  • Short-term visas are issued anywhere from three months to a year and are typically single entry, while long-term visas allow multiple entries.
  • The employee will be issued a relevant visa depending on their purpose of visit, which will typically be a work visa where the employee intends to enter into an employment agreement with a Russian organization. The validity of the work visa will be limited to one year, and may be renewed after expiry.
  • Once the visa is acquired, the employee will be allowed entry into Russian borders.

Processing Time: 4 – 6 weeks.

Cost: Dependant on consulate

Work Permit Application

  • The employer wishing to employ foreign nationals must submit a work permit quota application based on their foreign employment requirements for the next year.
  • The employer forecasts their foreign labour needs and submits an application to Federal Employment Service (FES) for the number and nationality of employees they seek to hire by 1 in the previous year. The nationality of the employee cannot be changed thereafter.
  • FES reviews the quota applications and will advise on failed and successful applicants by the following July.
  • FES procures a consolidated approval list up to a Federal level in October for the national quota of foreign nationals employed in Russia in the following year.
  • The employer will be notified at this point whether their application to issue work permits is successful.
  • Certain professions and positions are exempt from this quota depending on the nature of their work.
  • The employer must now lodge an application for work permits with FES for every foreign national that will receive one of these work permits.
  • The employer submits updated information on job vacancies that must be filled in the company to (FES), which will take one month.
  • The employer lodges an application to the Federal Migration Service (FMS) for a corporate permit to engage with foreign labour, where the application will be confirmed by FES that there is a vacancy in the company and no Russian candidates have been found. The corporate permit is issued one month later.

Non-CIS employees

  • The employer lodges an application to FMS for an individual work permit for each non-CIS citizen to be employed, which will take up to one month. It must be lodged with the employment authority in the region the employee will work in.
  • As of 1 January 2015, foreign nationals applying for a work permit must provide documents confirming their knowledge of the Russian language, history, and basic legislations of Russia before the permit is approved. A medical certificate is also required to show that the employee is healthy.
  • Once the individual work permit is obtained, an employment agreement with the foreign national is created detailing position, salary, length and other terms.
  • The employer must then notify the relevant state tax authorities, employment authorities and State Labour Inspection of the employment relationship created.
  • Once the worker permit is cleared for the employee, the employee is legally allowed to work in Russia under the terms of the permit.

CIS employees

  • Foreign nationals from CIS countries do not require a corporate permit from the employer, and the work permits are instead obtained by the employee.
  • The individual work permit may be obtained in person or through an organization that facilitates work permit applications.

Highly Qualified Specialists (HQSs)

  • High qualified foreign nationals with earnings exceeding RUB2 million with specialist roles are exempt from the quota application procedure, do not require a corporate permit and simply require an application to the state employment body, which will be processed in 14 days.
  • The duration of the work permit can be extended to 3 years as opposed to 1 year and is multi-regional.
  • HQS are also not required to confirm their knowledge of Russian language, history and legislation to acquire a work permit.

Processing Time: At least 3 months for standard permits

Cost:

Employers: RUB3000

Employees: RUB1000

Arrival Procedure

  • Once the visa and worker permit is obtained, the employee may travel to Russia. Upon arrival, an immigration card is stamped and provided to the employee detailing arrival, departure and duration of stay.
  • The immigration card must be registered within three working days with the Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR).
  • The immigration card is kept for the duration of the stay and must be returned upon departure from Russia, and failure to do so may lead to a formal deportation that will prohibit entrance into Russia for the next five years.
  • Upon arrival, the employee must also go through an enrolment procedure which registers the location and activity of the employee in the Russian migration system. Enrolment and de-enrolment is typically carried out by the hotel or employer within 3 business days of arrival and departure respectively.

Documentation Required:

Employee

  • Valid passport
  • One standard photo
  • Letter of invitation from Russian host organization, issued by the FMS
  • Visa application form
  • Medical certificate
  • Documents as evidence of Russian language, history and legislative knowledge
  • Consular fees

Employer

  • Registration card of organization in FMS of Moscow
  • Application letter for invitation
  • Letter of guarantee
  • Copy of corporate permit to employ foreign workers
  • Work permit of foreign citizen
  • Copy of the foreign citizen’s passport
  • Copy of employment contract

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Once you get in touch with us, one of our consultants will take all the work off your hands, coordinate with our local partners to get all the required permits organised, provide the processing time, costs, document-checklist and keep you informed through the process. Contact us to know more.

Types of visas in Russia

Category Description of Visa
Business Visa The business visa is intended for foreign nationals who are entering Russia for business purposes, such as negotiations, conferences and consultations. It does not allow the worker to engage in any work or hold any positions in Russian entities under any employment agreements.
The business visa is issued through invitations from Russian host companies or foreign subsidiaries operating in Russia, and is issued to the employee via the Russian consulates in the employee’s country.

Single and dual-entry visas are valid up to three months, while multiple-entry business visas are valid up to twelve months. The multiple-entry visa requires that foreign nationals may not stay in Russia for longer than 90 days in a 180-day period. Certain countries under immigration treaties with Russia, particularly most of the European Union countries may extend the business visa for up to five years.
The business visa may not be re-issued while in Russia, where the employee must leave upon expiry.

Documents required:
- Visa application form
- Valid international passport
- One standard photo
- Consular fee
- Letter of invitation from Russian host organization, issued by the FMS

Processing Time: 14 days for single/double, 21 days for multiple-entry. May be reduced with an additional fee.

Cost:
1 month single-entry: EUR 50
3 month single-entry: EUR 70
1 month double-entry: EUR 50
3 month double-entry: EUR 70
6 month multiple-entry: EUR 80
12 month multiple-entry: EUR 120

*Based on visa invitations to countries not in an agreement with Russia on simplifying visa regulations, e.g. U.K, Ireland, Canada and non-European countries. Invitations will be processed by FMS.
Work Visa (Employer Sponsored) A work visa is intended for foreign individuals planning to work in Russia under an employment agreement. The work visa allows a foreign national to occupy a position in a Russian company or a representative office/branch of foreign company as outlined in the work permit. It allows the employee to act on behalf of the company.

The work visa is first issued as an invitation to work with the company. The work visa is delivered by a Russian consulate in the employee’s country as a single-entry visa for three months only, and may be extended to a multiple-entry work visa upon arrival in Russia.

The work visa is valid based on the validity period of the foreign national’s work permit, and must not exceed one year.

The work visa may be renewed after expiry given that the employment agreement remains in place, where a new multiple-entry work visa can be obtained provided that a new individual work permit is also issued.

Documents required:
- Visa application form
- National passport
- One standard picture
- Consular fees
- Letter of invitation from Russian host organization, issued by the FMS
- Original HIV blood test Certificate

Processing Time: 8 days for visa processing. Can be reduced with an additional fee. On average, it takes 80 days for the entire process.

Cost:
Single-entry/Double-entry visa (3 months): $160
Single-entry/Double-entry visa (1 year):$160
Multiple-Entry visa: $160
State fees for employer: 9500 rubles

*Based on visa processing fees and times for the Russian embassy in the U.S.
Intra-Company Transfer Visa Intra-company transfer visas, also known as “Inosotrudniki” visas are a variant of the work visa issued for expatriate employees of foreign companies operating in Russia through its representative offices or branches.

The process and requirements are similar in nature to the work visa, however is easier to obtain as it separates the visa application from the work permit if the employee is being transferred within the organization.
Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) Visa The HQS visa is a form of work visa intended for employees who have specialist skills and are prioritized for visa clearance. The process is much faster than obtaining a regular work visa, as the employer is not required to obtain a work permit quota, and the employee is not required to produce a medical certificate or evidence of Russian proficiency.

The HQS visa is may be issued for up to three years, and can be extended for another 3 years prior to the expiry of the HQS visa.

The prerequisite of an HQS visa is that the employee must earn no less than RUB2 million and is considered highly skilled in their profession or service. The foreign national is allowed to obtain a residence permit for his/her family, which no other visa permits.

Processing Time: On average, 16 days for the entire approval process.

Cost:
State fees for employer: 2500 rubles.
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