November 08, 2012

The Government of the Russian Federation has advised it intends to introduce comprehensive changes to Russia’s national immigration policy in 2013/2014. In addition, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) has announced that the number of invitations for “quota” work visas has been slightly reduced for the remainder of 2012.

General Types of Russian Work Permits

The FMS requires that Russian companies wishing to sponsor foreign workers must be registered as a qualified sponsor and by May 1st of each year submit an annual labor forecast for the next year. These forecasts are required by the regional Ministries of Labor in order to determine regional occupations requiring overseas labor and to allocate company quotas accordingly.

For each region in Russia, the FMS allocates a certain number of “quota” work permits based on each regions labor needs. Certain regions having large metropolitan areas, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, comprise the majority of regional allocations.

There is also a list of “non-quota” positions. These positions are approved by the government each year. Generally, the list includes executive and certain management-level positions (e.g., CEO, CFO, persons in certain financial management positions and some engineering positions). In addition, workers with specific shortage occupation skills, known as “Highly Qualified Specialist” workers, are typically exempt from company and regional quota allocations.

What’s Changed?

Slight Reduction in Work Visa Invitation Letters in Moscow Region

The FMS has also advised that for the remainder of 2012 the number of work visa invitation letters issued by the FMS in the City of Moscow has been slightly reduced from 40,231 to 38,057.

In addition, the number of work visa invitations issued for the Central Federal District (the region around Moscow) has been reduced from 77,140 to 76,125. It is anticipated that these are slight adjustments being made by the Moscow Ministry of Labor to adjust for reduced need of work permits and should not adversely affect the number of work permits being issued for the remainder of this forecast year.

The reduction in work visa invitations does not affect the availability of business visitor visa invitations.

Proposed Changes to 2013/2014 Immigration Policy

The Director of the FMS has advised of changes occurring in 2013-2014 to Russia’s immigration policies. The changes may affect border control (e.g., entry and exit procedures, issuance of visas) and determining how immigration benefits will be issued (e.g., validity of work permits). In 2013, the FMS will be assessing anticipated foreign worker needs in the areas of investors/entrepreneurs, foreign students, instructors and occupations in the field of scientific research.

In 2014, it is anticipated that significant changes will be introduced after a comprehensive review of overall labor migration needs and the specific areas of industry requiring overseas workers. Proposed policy changes may also include most work permit applicants (excluding Highly Qualified Specialist-category workers) taking a language proficiency exam to test basic spoken and written Russian.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Presently, companies should note the possibility for their Russian offices submitting their 2014 labor forecasts that the FMS may significantly recalibrate quota work permits and revised the list of approved quota-exempt positions. Please be reminded that labor forecasts for requesting both renewal of quota work permits and new work permits for calendar year 2014 must be submitted to regional Labor Offices no later than May 1, 2013.

Insofar as the 2012 reduction of work visa invitation letters in the Moscow region, this is more of a bureaucratic adjustment rather than a significant reduction in availability of invitation letters.

Finally, companies should be aware that the Russian Government will be undertaking a reappraisal of the country’s foreign labor needs and the industries/sectors requiring specific types of skilled/specialized labor. Companies should expect possible new stringent work permit application requirements, such as Russian language proficiency, that may be used to curtail application of more generalized workers in favor more highly-skilled workers.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management.