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Overview of work permits

Overview of work permits in Russia

Normally in order to legally perform work activities in Russia every foreign national save citizens of Belarus and Kazakhstan have to obtain a work permit. Citizens of countries which do not belong to the CIS have also to apply for a work visa. Though the exception is also granted to foreign employees of manufacturers and suppliers of equipment imported into Russia, so that they are allowed to enter Russia and participate in works related to installation of such imported equipment without a work authorization. Although, it should be noted from the start: this type of employees is granted one of the types of a business visa and general "business visa" rules still apply. For example that one's stay can't exceed 90 days in each 180 days period. Thus, this means for employers that all the works should be planned for the term not exceeding three months or a "substitute" team should be planned and if necessary hired in advance.

Otherwise there are two main procedures available for engaging foreign labor in Russia.

First is the old "standard work permit" procedure which involves multiple stages and in practice can be completed in 4-5 months. In spite of the fact that Ministry for Labor and Social Development has recently approved quite an extensive list of job positions for which quota for engaging foreign labor is not required, in order to deploy this process the company has to have an approved quota for engaging foreign labor for the year in question which is extremely rare for recently established companies.

The other option would be to make use of the procedure for highly qualified specialists introduced in 2010. Though the Russian legislation does not contain any specific requirements concerning educational qualifications or other professional qualities of such employees, it is required that the salary for this type of staff is set at the benchmark of not less than 2,000,000 rubles gross per year (about 26,000 EUR). At the same time this option can turn to be beneficial for most of the international companies considering moving their employees to Russia due to the shortened processing time — approximately 1,5 months (in practice often 3 weeks) for completion of all steps. When opting for a highly qualified professional scheme described above employers should bare in mind that any part time employment for specialists hired using this procedure is possible only if the full salary is paid.

Many questions also arise with regards to maternity and other types of leave, considering the fact that Federal Migration Service officials always stress the importance of following the requirement that such employees are paid not less than 2,000,000 rubles per year gross irrespective of any leaves they take, including maternity and sick leave. If any type of unpaid leave is granted for more than one month the Federal Migration Service should be notified.      

With regards to the both options described above it should be noted that according to the Russian labor legislation a labor agreement has to be signed (secondment arrangements do not allow legalization of employees/assignees) and paid what means that in case a Russian legal entity is the hosting party the expatriate has to be moved partially or completely to the hosting party payroll and only in case of assigning to branch or representative office of the non-Russian employer the employee may remain on the home country payroll. There are however accounting and reporting specific in such cases.

One of the other important points for consideration is assignees with family or partners willing to accompany your employees on assignment. It is well known that Russian migration legislation, for instance, does not recognize civil partnerships. What is more there are problems with such categories as children over 18, gay couples, children from previous marriages who were not adopted by the assignee or the last but not the least nannies, nurses or other domestic staff from visa countries. As it can be seen from the above there are a lot of questions to be considered before it is even possible to start planning an international assignment as many issues need to be resolved such as what work permit option will apply, if assignee will be able to travel with his family members or partner, whether he will require to make any additional arrangements for his children and etc.

What to do when you arrive in the Russian Federation.

Notification of Russian immigration authorities on foreign nationals’ arrival A hosting party (i.e. an employer, who employ a foreign employee in Russia, or a housekeeper, who hosts a foreign national, etc.), should notify local immigration authorities on the foreign national’s arrival to Russia (i.e. to perform immigration registration of the foreign national). The notification should be performed within 7 working days from the date of arrival for regular employee. HQS employees are exempted from this requirement unless the period of their continuous staying in Russia is more than 90 days. For this purpose a hosting party should file a notification to the immigration authorities personally or send it by post. The detachable part of the notification, bearing a stamp of immigration authorities or post office, should be kept by the foreigner during his stay in Russia. Termination of employment also requires notification of the Russian immigaration and tax authorities.    If an assignee is going to stay in a hotel, the hotel administration will act as a hosting party and will notify the immigration authorities on arrival and departure.