November 30, 2011

The Russian Federation’s (Russia’s) Federal Migration Service (FMS) announced several changes to immigration policy with respect to nationals of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, India and South Korea.  Further details on these changes are detailed below.

CIS* Nationals Can Authorize Third-Party Representative to Collect Work Permit

On November 15, 2011, the FMS for Moscow issued an administrative directive (p. 7 article 13.1 of the Federal law dated July 25, 2002 “On Legal Status of Foreign Nationals on the Territory of the Russian Federation”) that will permit authorized third-party representatives to collect a CIS national’s personal work permits.  Third-party representatives must present a power of attorney document executed by a designated company representative of the Russian sponsoring entity and the CIS national applicant.

CIS nationals already enjoy visa-exempt status and do not require work visas to enter Russia upon receiving an approved work permit.  By permitting third-party collection for the work permit, this will facilitate more ease in concluding work authorization formalities for CIS national applicants. (Please note that this new internal directive can be rescinded by the FMS with little to no advance notice.)

Readers should take note that this new directive is not a comprehensive directive affecting all CIS nationals. On July 26, 2011, Russia implemented a new federal law pursuant to reciprocal agreements with Belarus and Kazakhstan. While provisos affecting Kazakh nationals are to become effective January 1, 2012, nationals of Belarus have been eligible for immigration benefits since 1999.  The agreement from the Russian perspective states that Belorussian and Kazakh nationals are permitted to enter Russia without a visa, however stays exceeding 30 consecutive days must be registered with the local immigration office.  In case of entry for work purpose, Belorussian and Kazakh foreigners possessing signed employment contracts with Russian company sponsors are not required to obtain a work permit and are also exempt from the Russia’s traditional work permit quota requirement.

Russia Signs Bilateral Immigration Agreements with India and South Korea 

On November 18, 2011, Russian Government officials announced the successful ratification of bilateral agreements with India and South Korea.  While final protocols and requirements have yet to be implemented, the agreements seek to establish new guidelines for relaxed visitor visa policies for Russian and Indian nationals and to streamline work permit applications for Russian and South Korean nationals.   Guidance on final procedures and protocols are expected to be implemented in 2012.

Russia-India Immigration Policy:

Indian and Russian nationals holding normal passports will be able to take advantage of a simpler  application process for entry and transit visas in addition to permitting both countries to issue multiple-entry visitor visas valid up to five years with duration of stays up to 90 days within a given 180-day period.

Russia-South Korea Immigration Policy:

This agreement is to implement new standards for simplifying the requirements for obtaining work and residence authorization for nationals of both countries.  The agreement applies to the following categories of applicants:

  • Employees of Representative offices;
  • Intra-company transferees;
  • Director-level employees;
  • Accompanying family members (spouses, minor children) of the above.

For these categories of applicants, the agreement provides for considerable simplification of the stay requirements and type of allowable labor activity to include:  no work permit quotas; relaxation of work permit requirements for employees of duly accredited Representative Offices; removal of provincial/regional restrictions on work permits, and the ability to receive work/residence authorization for up to three consecutive years for the assignee and accompanying family members.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

Companies considering assignments to Russia should bear in mind the relatively immediate talent pool available in the CIS countries and the simplified work permit application process these nationals enjoy. As CIS nationals are not subject to traditional work permit quota requirements, companies should consider what positions are suitable for these workers when establishing or expanding company presence in Russia.

As Russia seeks to increase its attractiveness to foreign talent and strengthen trade ties with emerging and established global economies, Russia’s FMS will seek to simplify and streamline immigration processes for favored-nation workers.  Companies should bear in mind the possibilities for identifying Indian and South Korean nationals for future business travel/work assignments in 2012.  Pro-Link GLOBAL will provide further updates as to the final protocols and requirements for Indian and South Korean nationals once the FMS issues its final guidance.

This news alert was provided in coordination with our Russian KGNM– VISTA Foreign Business Support.

*Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan

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.