As already anticipated in our Global Brief from June 13, 2014, the Russian authorities are continuing to implement changes to their immigration system. Amendments to existing law and new legislation from June 2014 lead to the following changes:
Citizenship and Permanent Residency Notification
Beginning August 4, 2014, all Russian nationals who obtain foreign Permanent Residency or foreign Citizenship will be required to notify the Foreign Migration Service Office with jurisdiction over the individual’s own Russian registration. Notifications must be made within 60 days of obtaining the foreign residency status.
For Russian nationals who currently hold foreign Permanent Residence or foreign citizenship:
• If the individual “permanently resides” outside of Russia and have either de-registered their places of residence in Russia OR have established their formal address abroad, they will not be required to provide notification to the FMS.
• If the individual does not “permanently reside” outside of Russia, but does hold either Permanent Residence or citizenship in a foreign country, he/she will be required to file their notifications by October 3, 2014.
It is important to note that there is some industry confusion surrounding exactly what constitutes “permanently residing” outside of Russia in connection with the above exemption. Sources expect that the Russian authorities will issue a clarification in the upcoming weeks.
Russian citizens who fail to notify the FMS will face severe penalties including fines (between RUB 200,000 and one year’s salary), and possible compulsory community service up of up to 400 hours.
Highly Skilled Worker Income Requirement Lowered for IT Specialists
As of June 24, 2014 the annual salary requirement to qualify as Highly Skilled Worker (HSW) has been lowered to 1 million Rubles for IT Specialists who are on assignment at an IT company which has been accredited by the state. The general applicable salary requirement to qualify for HSW status remains, however, at 2 million Rubles.
Simplified Procedure to Obtain Russian Citizenship
Based on another new law, a simplified procedure to obtain Russian citizenship applies as of July 5, 2014 to the following groups of people:
• Individual entrepreneurs having conducted business in Russia for at least 3 years, with a minimum annual revenue of 10 million Rubles;
• Investors for at least 3 years, if their investment meets certain requirements;
• Qualified specialists having worked in Russia for at least 3 years;
• Foreign nationals having received professional education in Russia after July 1, 2002 and who have work experience in Russia for at least 3 years;
• Foreign nationals permanently residing in Russia and who are considered as Russian language native speakers.
Exemption from Test Requirement to Apply to Certain Journalists
As we reported in our aforementioned Global Brief, a new requirement to proof knowledge of Russian language, history and legislation will apply as of January 2015 for applicants for standard work permits. A new Federal Law has introduced an exemption from this new requirement for foreign journalists working at a company specializing in mass media in foreign languages.
Visa Free Stay Expected to be Reduced
More changes are still expected, as a bill is currently under consideration in the State Duma which proposes to reduce the length of allowed visa free stay. Although citizens of most countries need to obtain a visa to enter Russia for any purpose, there are some nationalities who are allowed visa free entry for a limited amount of time, either for private visits, work related visits or both. Up to now this visa free stay varied between 30 and 90 days for the various nationalities, with the notable exceptions of citizens from Belarus (unlimited visa free stay) and Hong Kong and Brunei (visa free stay of up to 14 days only). The bill proposes to reduce the visa free stay to 30 days only. At this time it is not clear if the new regulations, if and once approved, will also apply to citizens of Belarus, nor if the allowed visa free stay for Hong Kong and Brunei citizens will be increased to 30 days as well, to be in line with all other favored countries.