A Quick Introduction To Russian Labor And Immigration Law
By Anatoly Gakenberg, Head of Legal Practice
Alinga Consulting Group
All foreigners in Russia must follow Russian laws as a whole, but also immigration policy in particular.
The main legislation regulating foreigners in Russia is Federal Law № 115 “Concerning the Legal Status of Foreigners in the Russian Federation.” This law contains the fundamental provisions regarding foreigners in the RF, their arrival and departure, temporary residency, and employment.
One of the most important issues for a foreigner arriving on the territory of the RF is registration. A foreigner is required to register within the course of 3 days after arrival, and must be de-registered within the course of two days of leaving the RF. If a foreigner violates registration rules an administrative fine from 2,000-5,000 rubles will be incurred. The foreigner could also be deported although this is rare for a first-time offense.
Foreigners residing in Russia often seek employment, which is only legal if the foreigner has a work permit. An employer or contractor only has the right to employ and use foreign labor on the basis of a permit to engage and use foreign workers (i.e. an employment permit).
As a rule, the employer takes care of the procedures for obtaining the work permit. These procedures consist of several stages, and take about 3 months (assuming the company has already secured a spot on the annual quota for hiring foreign workers).
Every year Russia issues an annual quota for the foreign workforce. The quota has been shrinking over the last few years. In 2009, the quota was set at nearly 4 million foreign employees, while in 2010 the quota was reduced to 2 million. According to official sources, this number will likely be even smaller in 2011.
An employment contract with a foreigner can be concluded as soon as the work permit is obtained. As a rule, the employment contract is fixed-term, inclusive only of the dates in which the work permit is valid, which is usually for the maximum time period of one year.
On December 22, 2009 the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development approved a list of professions that were not subject to the annual quota in 2010 (for example, general directors, heads of representative offices, information protection engineers, and company executives). This simplifies the process of obtaining a work permit, but does not free a foreigner from the need to obtain one.
After the company receives the work permit, the invitation needed to obtain a work visa is processed. The foreigner receives a single-entry work visa on the basis of the invitation. The single-entry work visa is valid until the date specified on the invitation and should be converted into a multi-entry visa before expiration. After the multi-entry work visa is obtained the foreigner is free to work in Russia. The multi-entry work visa can be valid until the work permit expires.
Since the invitation for the work visa is issued by a specific employer, a foreign employee cannot use it to work for any other company. If the employee wishes to work for another company, the whole process must be started over from the beginning (i.e. the new employer must submit documents to gain permission to hire a foreign employee as part of the annual quota, etc.).
A company can only hire foreigners if that company has a Russian citizen appointed as general director.
Foreigners working without a work permit will incur a fine from 2,000-5,000 rubles. The foreigner could also be deported.
Company officials and legal entities are also liable for immigration law violations. Company officials or legal entities that hire foreigners without work permits can incur fines from 25,000-50,000 rubles for company officials and 250,000-800,000 rubles with the possibility of the forced closing of the business for 90 days for legal entities.
Temporary Residence Permit
A temporary residence permit grants a foreigner the right to temporarily reside in the RF until permanent residency is received. It is issued as a stamp in the foreigner's official identification document (ie passport), or in the official document issued by the RF to an individual without citizenship who does not have a document proving his identity.
A temporary residence permit can be issued to a foreigner within the limits of the quota established by the Russian government, unless otherwise stipulated by federal law. A temporary residence permit is valid for three years.
The quota for temporary residence permits is approved by the Russian government annually based on the proposals from the executive branches of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation (okrugs, federal cities, etc.), taking into account the demographic situation in the respective territories and their capacity for foreigners to settle there. In 2009, the annual quota for temporary residence permits was set at 200,345.
A foreigner with a temporary residence permit is still obliged to obtain a work permit to be employed in Russia.
Individuals with temporary residence permits do not need a visa to enter and reside in Russia. However, they must obtain an exit visa to legally leave Russia. Leaving Russia without this exit visa invalidates the permit. Exit visas are, as of March of 2010, issued for the entire length that the temporary residence permit is valid.
After one year of temporary residency, the foreigner may apply for permanent residency. Permanent residency is granted for as long as the identification document is valid (recall that temporary residency is formalized by an entry in this identification document), but no longer than 5 years. However, permanent residency can be extended an unlimited number of times.
Permanent residency gives the right to freely enter and exit Russia and to work in Russia without a work permit.
A foreigner citizen has the right to obtain Russian citizenship if within the course of 5 years of receiving permanent residency and up to the day of submitting all the documents for citizenship the foreigner has resided in Russia. Review of the documents for obtaining citizenship takes one year.
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