Wednesday 23rd June 2010

New visa laws in Russia offer real benefits for highly qualified expats

New Federal Law in Russia means that the foreign business community may now benefit from relaxed migration rules according to reports from The Moscow Times.

Federal Law on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens, No. 86-FZ, which will officially come into force on July 1 next week, is widely anticipated to allow businesses in the country to more easily recruit foreign specialists who are deemed to be highly qualified. The new law will introduce significant changes to the process by which companies operating in Russia can obtain work permits for overseas recruits.

The biggest change in the immigration law will concern the introduction of a “Highly Qualified Foreign Specialist” status, which will largely be measured by the amount of salary that an individual is to be paid during their employment in Russia. In order to qualify for the newly formed status, individuals will be required to demonstrate that they will be earning a salary of at least 2 million rubles per year; $65,000 USD. The status works on the assumption that companies in Russia will not recruit individuals at that salary level unless they possess a highly skilled competency. As such, there is no formal definition of what constitutes a “highly-qualified individual” and the onus will be on the employer to evaluate an expat’s competency rate.

While the new law does not specify what constitutes “highly qualified” it does detail which types of organizations are able to hire employees under the new visa rules. The Moscow Times reports that the following list of entities may take advantage of the new scheme:

• Russian commercial organizations;

• Russian scientific organizations;

• Professional education institutions, except for institutions engaged in professional religious education (seminaries);

• Health care institutions.

The new process for obtaining a work permit for a highly skilled expat

Work permits will continue to be issued by the immigration authorities. They will have a maximum validity of three years and will a highly qualified individual may apply for an extension of their stay for a maximum period of three years at a time. Highly skilled employees will be exempt from any quotas the government issues concerning the recruitment of foreign workers and employing entities will not be required to apply for a permit to engage any workers who are classified as highly qualified.

Any employee who is issued a visa under the new scheme may continue to remain in Russia after termination of their employment contract for a maximum period of thirty days for job search purposes. During this time they may search for a different employer and should their search be successful they may enter into a new agreement with the new employer. If they are unsuccessful in their search they will have a further 30 days to leave Russia.

Dependents of highly skilled foreign workers will be permitted to reside in Russia throughout the duration of the employee’s tenure.

Other requirements and relevant information

  • Every Highly Qualified Foreign Specialist must have adequate health insurance that is provided at the expense of their employer and covers the duration of their employment contract.
  • Representative bodies of foreign legal entities are not permitted to recruit expatriates under the scheme.
  • Recruiting companies are legally recruited to disclose the earnings of any individuals they have recruited under the scheme
  • Highly qualified professionals with be subject to the same tax as Russian residents; 13%. This will be the amount payable regardless of the amount of days per year the individual stays in Russia.

For further details see The Moscow Times.

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