April 11, 2012

Two recent changes have been announced by the Federal Migration Service (FMS) requiring that (1) in order to avoid loss of status, all Highly-Skilled Worker (HSW) renewal applications must be filed at least 30 calendar days in advance of the work permit expiration date and (2) the FMS has cancelled the requirement that all foreign work permit applicants must undergo a separate HIV test at an official state clinic.

What’s Changed?

HSW Renewal Applications

HSW renewal applications may be filed with either the FMS or with the local Labor and Employment Office in the city of work.  While HSW applications are not subject to traditional quota and labor recruitment requirements, the FMS has recently announced a new requirement whereby all HSW renewal applications must be filed with the appropriate government authority at least 30 calendar days in advance of the work permit expiration date.

The general processing time for renewing an HSW permit is estimated to be between three to four weeks.  Revalidation of the work permit holder’s and accompanying family member’s visas will require all original passports and may take at least an additional three to four weeks.

Provided that the HSW holder’s passport contains a valid Russian visa, he or she may be allowed to depart and re-enter Russia during the renewal process.  However, given the fairly short renewal application processing times, overseas travel is not recommended.

PLEASE NOTE:  Failure by a Russian company sponsor to file a timely HSW renewal application will result in the loss of the worker’s and accompanying family member’s statuses and require their departure from Russia prior to the expiration of their current permits.   To reinstate status, the Russian company sponsor will be required to file a fresh HSW application and the foreign national and family must undergo a new visa application/residence permit process.

HIV Testing

Revoking legislation introduced in July, 2011, the Russian immigration authorities have canceled the requirement for foreigners to complete HIV tests at official state clinics.

Foreign nationals as traditional quota workers are still required to be tested for HIV as part of their comprehensive medical exam.  However, testing can now completed at a commercial medical clinic in Russia versus a state clinic.  While not required, it is recommended to undergo testing in the foreign worker’s city of intended residence.

At this time, it is yet to be determined whether this regulation is permanently annulled, or if it will be reintroduced once the authorities reorganize the state clinic procedures.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

With respect to HSW’s, the migration authorities will enforce refusal of a renewal application not filed according to the new 30-day requirement.

Companies should work closely with their immigration supplier to maintain an accurate census of all Russian work and residence permit expiration dates and determine how far in advance a renewal application can be filed with a particular authority. (Please note there is no exact information on how far in advance renewal applications can be filed.  Good practice would be to initiate review of a renewal at least 90 days in advance of expiration.)

The change of HIV testing rules was brought about by complaints from international companies addressing various flaws in the system, such as poor infrastructure, a lack of foreign languages spoken by clinic staff and a problem determining which state clinic is responsible for testing.

While in-country testing rules may have relaxed, companies and employees are advised that HIV tests results may be required by certain Russian consular post as part of a long-stay visa application.

All long-stay visa applicants should confirm with their local Russian consular post if an HIV test is required and if so, the age requirement for HIV testing and the validity period of the test results (e.g., for Russian consular posts in the U.S., HIV results are required of all work/residence applicants age 6 months and older and test results are valid for only 90 days).

This news alert was provided in coordination with our Russian KGNM–Move One.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.