Major Changes to Russia’s Work Permits Rules Effective Jan. 1

By Daniel King Dec 9, 2014
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Big changes are coming to Russia’s standard work permit system for Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nationals by introducing a new system of “work patents,” as well as changes to the Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit system.

In addition, the new requirement for proof of knowledge of Russian language, history and legal system will be implemented for all categories of standard work permit and patent application.

Finally, there are some minor amendments to the notification requirements for holders of standard work permits who are nationals of countries requiring a visa to enter Russia.

CIS Nationals

Work permits for CIS nationals are to be replaced with a new system of work patents, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Following entry into the country, the applicant should apply for the work patent within 30 calendar days and find local employment (either with a company or an individual) within 60 days of the work patent collection.

Work patents will give the right to work in a particular Russian region for almost any employer for up to 12 months (renewable once), free from any quotas. They will not be issued for specific job positions, allowing for transfer without need to amend the document and will not require a sponsoring employer for the initial application.

Authority with regards to issuance of work patents will be transferred to the governors of Russia’s regions who are now authorized:

  • To hire third-party companies to process the applications.
  • To prevent the issuance of work patents at any time basing their decision on Labour Office opinion.
  • To order that all work patent holders who are engaged in certain type of work need to be dismissed by their employers in a given timeframe if they see fit.

It remains to be seen how this will be implemented regionally.

Visa Nationals

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Federal Law number 357-FL of Nov. 24, 2014, amends existing notification requirements for visa nationals holding standard work permits, with fines of up to 1,000,000 RUB for each violation.

Companies employing standard work permit holders will not be required to notify the Tax Authority reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee and should instead notify the Federal Migration Service office reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee within three business days from the day of signing or termination of the labor agreement.

Russian Language, History and Legal Knowledge Exams

The upcoming requirement for Russian language, history and basics of legal knowledge tests to be applied to all categories of standard work permit applicants and work patent applicants remains vague. It seems that local schools and universities will be selected to test work permit/patent applicants on Russian language, history and legal basics knowledge but when and how this will work in practice is yet unclear.

Impact

Since none of the above developments will affect the Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit process, it is expected that more and more employers will consider engaging exclusively HQS work permit holders.

This is likely especially now that IT companies can employ HQS work permit holders with a reduced minimum salary, and even more so once representative offices of foreign countries in Russia are granted the right to sponsor HQS work permits from Jan. 1, 2015.

HQS Work Permit Changes

A new law makes amendments to the notification requirements for holders of HQS work permits. The HQS program was introduced in 2010 and allows companies in Russia to employ foreign national workers for up to three years with various benefits including a simplified application process and exemption from quotas.

From Jan. 1, 2015, companies employing HQS work permit holders will not be required to make the following notifications:

  • Notification to the Federal Migration Service office reporting unpaid leave granted to an HQS work permit holder exceeding one calendar month during a twelve month period.
  • Notification to the Tax Authority reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee.

Instead, the following notification will be required:

  • Notification to the Federal Migration Service office reporting hiring or dismissal of the employee within three business days from the day of signing or termination of the labor agreement.

Other Changes

From Jan. 1, 2015, representative offices of foreign companies in Russia will have the right to hire foreign national workers under the HQS program. At present, the HQS is only available to Russian companies and branch offices of foreign companies.

The Federal Migration Service has started accepting HQS work permit applications from IT companies with a lower minimum salary level than for other industries. The change came into effect at the end of June 2014, but was not immediately implemented by Russian officials.

Daniel King is communications director for Peregrine Immigration Management, which provides global immigration management software, training, project work and consulting services.

Republished with permission. © 2014 Peregrine. All rights reserved.

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