January 30, 2013

The Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) has issued several new laws regarding the creation of a five-year Investment Visitor Visa category, a strengthening of civil and criminal penalties for foreign nationals overstaying their status and companies facilitating employment of illegal workers and ability for Temporary Residence Permit holders to have unrestricted authorization to work for any Russian employer.

What’s Changed?

There are several recent new laws that have been signed by the President of Russia and are due to come into force as follows:

“Investment Visitor” Visa – Amendment #3030-FZ amends Articles 25 and 26 of the Federal Law creates a new, long-term “Investment Visitor” visitor visa category valid up to five years for partners, representatives and business visitors of foreign companies that operate in Russia and investing funds in the Russian economy. It is anticipated that the Russian Government will maintain a list of overseas companies whose business representatives are permitted to apply for this visa.

The specific requirements for admission to this list have yet to be determined. The primary privilege is that applicants may apply directly with a Russian consular post without applying for an official invitation letter from the FMS.

Increased Civil/Criminal Penalties for Immigration Violations– Amendment #321-FZ will ban entry for up to three years any foreign national found to have intentionally overstayed his or her visitor status by 30 days.

In addition, any individual or Russian organization found to arrange or facilitate illegal entry or employment of foreign nationals can face a civil penalty of up to 300,000 rubles (approx. US$9,900).

Electronic Submission of Work/Residence Permit Application Support Documents – Effective January 1, 2013, Russian employers may now submit scanned versions of an employee’s application support documents as part of an electronic application to the FMS when requesting most immigration benefits. Please be advised that the original documentation must be provided to the FMS prior to receiving approval.

Work Permit Requirement Waived for Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) Holders- Temporary Residency (three-year non-immigrant status) is a preliminary stage to Russian Permanent Residence (five-year status). TRP’s are filed by foreign nationals seeking long-term residence status based on family-based sponsorship and other non-employment related categories.

Prior to January 1, 2013, TRP holders were required to request Russian employers to file an Employment Permit and obtain a Work Permit on their behalf. TRP’s now wishing to seek employment no longer require Employment or Work Permits. Permanent Residents also do not require work permits.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies considering assignments to Russia should prepare for continuing changes as the labor and migration services implement policies under the new immigration law and in an effort to better align the country’s skilled migration and overseas labor needs.

Positive policies are the ability for companies and Russian immigration suppliers to submit online Employment, Work and Work Permit renewal application applications. In addition, TRP’s may be a readily-available source of foreign talent while avoiding a lengthy work permit process.

Russian companies and Russian HR should take note of the substantial increase in civil fines. Employees and family members in visitor status are strongly advised to take all steps necessary to monitor their allowable stay in Russia in order to avoid an inadvertent overstays.

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.