Expats’ families to get benefits

The visa system for expats was relaxed with effect from 1 July. Now Russia is simplifying the procedure for admitting members of their families into the country. A bill on this has been passed by the State Duma at its first reading.

Temporary separation from their relative or seeing a representative of the Russian Migration Service once every four months – that’s the choice that members of the families of foreign specialists who come to work in Russia have had to make up to now. The Russian parliament has decided to improve this situation. On 19 October it passed at its first reading (the document has to go through three readings in all) a bill which will allow the wife of a specialist who moves to Russia to work to receive (and extend) a working visa for the same period as her husband. RN was told this by one of the authors of the bill, Vladimir Pligin, head of the Duma committee on constitutional legislation and state-building.

Moreover, a foreign specialist who changes location within Russia (for not more than 30 days) or who wants to leave the country (for not more than 90 days) will not have to go through the migration registration procedures. Pligin believes this should make Russia a more attractive country for highly qualified foreign personnel.

For expats themselves entry to Russia has been made easier since 1 July. This applies to people who have work experience and skills in specific fields and who are paid not less than 2 million roubles (about $70,000) per year. The length of their working visas and their permission to work has been increased from 1 to 3 years, and both of these can be extended repeatedly, although by not more than 3 years each time. Conversely, the time it takes to issue these documents has been reduced from 4 months to 14 working days. Employers no longer have to ask the Federal Migration Service whether they are entitled to invite a qualified foreign worker. Also, the foreign specialist is now entitled to apply to potential employers.

Moreover, the “beneficiaries” have been exempted from the system of foreign manpower quotas, which are confirmed by government decision on the basis of employers’ applications at the beginning of the spring. Thus companies will no longer have to wait until the following year to recruit the specialist they need if they miss the application season, notes Maria Istomina, a lawyer with Yukov, Khrenov and Partners.

According to the amended Russian legislation, not only will companies be able to look for specialists, but also foreigners themselves will be entitled to apply independently as a potential highly qualified worker for Russian business. To do this, they can make an appropriate application to the Russian embassy or consulate, including confirmation of their work experience, skills and achievements. This information will be added to a special database, to which potential employers in Russia will be given access. The Russian Federal Migration Service has put details of how to complete an application on its website, www.fms.gov.ru.

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