There has been a variety of developments: Companies inviting foreign nationals will soon have more responsibilities. President Putin has simplified the citizenship process for certain categories. Deported foreign citizens will have to compensate Russia for expenses related to their deportation. There are also updates on admission for the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and St. Petersburg, visa-free travel between Russia and Cape Verde, and UEFA Euro 2020 (soccer competition) migration issues. Also, there are new state fee payment certificate requirements for invitation letters. HIV Certificate requirements were recently approved by the Ministry of Health. Visa formalities between Iranians and Russians have been simplified for entrepreneurs. Visa-free travel for Russian citizens is now allowed to Suriname. The Federal Penalty Execution Service will be added to the list of agencies that can decide on the desirability of stay of foreign citizens in Russia, and the Ministry of Justice will be removed, starting January 1, 2020. The application process for residence permits has been simplified for certain categories of foreign nationals. The Economic Development Ministry has proposed lowering the minimum salary level for Highly Qualified Specialists. A new accreditation card will allow participants in certain international cultural mass events to enter Russia visa-free for the defined period of such events.
Companies Inviting Foreign Nationals Will Soon Have More Responsibilities
New procedures to be followed by companies inviting foreign nationals has been submitted for governmental review and final approval. In particular, the new regulations require that companies sponsoring visas for foreign nationals must take several measures to ensure that the invited foreign national complies with restrictions on the purpose of stay established by the visa, as well as the authorized period of stay, and exits Russia in a timely manner.
Among other things, companies will need to notify an invited foreigner staying longer than 10 days about these requirements, and issue reminders of visa expiration and the need to leave Russia. If an invited foreigner does not comply, the company must notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
These requirements will not be applied to embassies and consulates of foreign countries or representative offices of international organizations.
Putin Simplifies Citizenship Process for Certain Categories
President Vladimir Putin issued Order #187 on April 29, 2019, which introduced new categories of foreign citizens and stateless persons who can apply for Russian citizenship following a simplified procedure. Also, on April 24, 2019, President simplified the procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship for residents of Donetsk and Lugansk.
The simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship means that an application for Russian citizenship can be filed regardless of the time during which the foreigner lived in Russia and/or had a Residency Permit.
Apart from residents of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics, the following categories of foreign nationals received the right to apply for Russian citizenship following the simplified procedure:
Ukrainian nationals, stateless persons and their children (including adopted), spouses and parents:
- who don’t have citizenships of other countries, and
- who were born and permanently reside in the territories of Crimea and Sevastopol, and
- who exited these territories until March 18, 2014;
Ukrainian nationals, stateless persons as well as their children (including adopted), spouses and parents who have a:
- TRP (Temporary Residence Permit);
- PRP (Permanent Residence Permit);
- Refugee Certificate;
- Certificate confirming the grant of temporary refuge; or
- Certificate of the participant in the state program for the returning of compatriots, residing abroad, to Russia
- Who permanently resided in the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics before the April 7, 2014, and April 27, 2014, respectively;
Foreign citizens and stateless persons as well as their relatives, if they were unlawfully deported from Crimea;
Citizens of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Iraq, Yemen Republic, and Syrian Arab Republic and their children (including adopted), spouses and parents:
- who were born on the territory of the former RSFSR; and
- had USSR citizenship.
The Presidential Order also introduces the application form that must be filed by the foreign citizens listed above. Applications must be filed at the local offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs depending on the applicant's resident address.
The application must be supported by the following documentation:
- Confirmation of the person's ID and citizenship or statelessness;
- Medical test results confirming that the person is not addicted or infected and does not have HIV (there are exceptions to this requirement);
- Confirmations of family relationships (e.g., birth certificate, marriage certificate);
- Confirmation of authorization for the foreigner's stay in Russia (e.g., visa, migration card, TRP, PRP);
- Confirmation of residency in certain territories (e.g., extract from the tenant's book, copy of the utilities bill if there is no residency confirmation in the ID document).
An application for Russian citizenship can be denied if the foreign citizen or stateless person:
- Calls for violent change of the constitutional order;
- Participated in armed conflicts;
- Participated in extremist activities and poses a danger to the security of the Russian Federation and its citizens;
- Is banned from entering Russia;
- Used falsified documentation or supplied false information;
- Was a member of the armed forces of a foreign country or served in foreign security agencies;
- Has a criminal record that has not been expunged or has not expired yet;
- Is criminally prosecuted;
- Serves jail time;
- Participates in activities of an organization, including the list of organizations and persons who are considered to be involved in extremist activities and terrorism;
- Is the subject of a decision by an inter-department coordination council, which functions to prevent financing of terrorism, to block this person's accounts or properties; or
- Is the subject of a court decision blocking this person's bank account transactions and other operations with funds and property.
Applications must be reviewed within three months.
More on simplified procedures for Russian citizenship and residence permits. On May 7, 2019, the Russian government approved a number of bills that introduce simplified procedures for obtaining Russian citizenship as well as TRPs (Temporary Residence Permits) and PRPs (Permanent Residence Permits).
Qualified foreign specialists who have worked in Russia for 1 year will have the right to apply for Russian citizenship following a simplified procedure. Currently, such foreign citizens must work in Russia for 3 years before their citizenship applications can be considered. A list of professions of qualified foreign citizens and stateless persons is issued by the Ministry of Labor. For example, this list contains professions in high demand in the Russian labor market, such as doctors of various medical specialties, other medical professionals, engineers, locksmiths, technical professionals, electricians, and others.
The following categories of foreign citizens will be able to apply for Temporary Residence Permits without a quota:
- Residents of Ukraine; and
- Stateless persons who permanently reside in Ukraine and who received refugee status or obtained refuge in Russia.
Also it is suggested that the following categories of foreign nationals will receive the right to apply for PRPs without having to apply first for TRPs:
- Foreign nationals who were born in the RSFSR and who had USSR citizenship;
- Foreign nationals who were deported from Crimea as well as their relatives;
- Foreign nationals who were born in Russia and were adopted by foreign nationals (including highly qualified specialists) and others.
Finally, the bills introduce PRPs that will be issued for an unlimited period of time, with the exception of PRPs issued to HQS (Highly Qualified Specialist) work permit holders as well as qualified specialists and their family members. They will be issued 3-year PRPs.
A foreign citizen who receives an unlimited PRP will need to notify the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding their residence in Russia annually. Once every 5 years, such notification must be filed in person. If the foreign citizen fails to file this notification 2 years in a row, the PRP will be annulled.
It is not yet clear when these bills will come into force.
Deported Foreign Citizens to Compensate Russia for Related Expenses
Currently, if a foreign citizen is deported or administratively removed from Russia, he or she must cover the costs of the procedure. If the foreign citizen lacks the funds, the "inviting party" must cover the costs, for example, a company or organization that issued the invitation letter. If the appropriate inviting party is not found, the federal budget covers the expenses. New proposed legislation under review says that in cases where federal funds are used, the foreign citizen must compensate the Russian government after their deportation/removal is complete. Such expenses may include flight/train/bus tickets for the foreign citizen and official accompanying him or her; the foreign citizen's stay in a facility until the deportation/removal is executed; and paperwork and other expenses related to the procedure.
International Tchaikovsky Competition
The 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition, which occurs every four years, will be held June 17 through 29, 2019, in Moscow and St. Petersburg. To simplify migration formalities for participants, the government has introduced a bill to the State Duma that amends FL-115, "On the legal status of foreign citizens in Russia."
During the competition, the administration of the competition will not be required to apply for permission to employ foreign citizens to serve as jury members. Jury members will also not be required to obtain a work permit or patent to work in Russia.
Visa-Free Travel Between Russia and Cape Verde
On April 26, 2019, the Russian government issued an order to the International Affairs Ministry to sign, after the necessary negotiations take place, an agreement with the Cape Verde Republic that will allow visa-free travel between the countries.
According to the draft of the agreement, citizens of the two countries will be able to travel visa-free to the territory of the other country. The period of stay will not exceed 60 calendar days. The total period of stay within the specified timeframe will be set according to the legislation of each country. Russia uses the common rule of 90/180, which means that Cape Verde citizens would be able to stay in Russia for 90 days out of each 180 days.
Article 8 of the agreement draft provides that countries can deny entry or shorten the period of stay for the citizen of the other country if the presence of the foreign national would be considered undesirable.
Also, if citizens of one country decide they wish to perform work activities, study, or reside in the other country, they will be required to apply for the appropriate visa.
UEFA Euro 2020 Migration Issues
Legislation was amended in May 2019 to provide for the preparation and management of an upcoming soccer event, the European Cup UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) 2020. Migration formalities will be simplified for the participants, volunteers, and spectators of UEFA Euro 2020.
The "UEFA Euro 2020 preparation period" is from June 1, 2019, until the date defined as 1 month before the date of the first match of UEFA Euro 2020. The "UEFA Euro 2020 period" is calculated from the date when the preparation period is over until December 31, 2020.
Foreign citizens participating in UEFA Euro 2020 (organizers) will receive multiple-entry ordinary business/work visas at Russian consulates abroad for a period of up to 1 year with the possibility to extend work visas in Russia. Applications must be filed on the basis of invitation letters, which in turn will be issued on the basis of applications from the Russian Football Association or its local organization, provided that applicants are included on official FIFA/UEFA lists. Visa applications will be processed within three business days, and payment of consular fees or other processing fees will not be required. Extension of work visas will be based on the application from the Russian Football Association or its local organization.
Such foreign citizens will be able to work in Russia without the need to obtain work permits or patents.
Sportsmen (competition participants) will receive multiple-entry ordinary humanitarian visas at Russian consulates abroad. Applications must be filed on the basis of invitation letters, which will in turn be issued on the basis of applications from the Russian Football Association or its local organization, provided that applicants are included on official FIFA/UEFA lists. Applications will be processed within three business days, and payment of consular fees or other processing fees will not be required.
Such foreign citizens will not need to obtain work permits or patents.
Foreign citizens will be able to use public transport in St. Petersburg and Leningradskaya Region for free during the competition period.
Volunteers will receive either 1-entry or 2–entry ordinary humanitarian visas at Russian consulates abroad for a period of up to three months or multiple-entry ordinary humanitarian visas for a term of up to one year with the possibility of a continuous stay of not more than 180 days. Visas will be issued on the basis of invitation letters that will be based on applications from the Russian Football Association or its local organizations.
Volunteers will be able to perform work activities in Russia without a work permit. Organizations that will use their labor will not be required to apply for permission to engage foreign labor. Such organizations will not need to file any notifications to authorities connected with employment of volunteers.
Spectators will be able to enter Russia without a visa during the period starting 14 days before the first match in St. Petersburg until the day of the last match in St. Petersburg plus 10 calendar days after that date.
To enter Russia as a spectator without a visa, the person must bring a passport and a personal spectator card (Fan ID).
UEFA Euro 2020 spectators will be able to use public transport for free in St. Petersburg and the Leningradskaya region during the competition period.
For UEFA Euro 2020 suppliers, media specialists, and other employees of such organizations, companies that will supply products or services for UEFA Euro 2020 as well as media organizations will be able to apply for the permission to engage foreign labor using a simplified procedure. Processing of such applications will be accelerated. Also, foreign employees of such organizations will be able to apply for work permits and patents using simplified and accelerated procedures. Government fees for processing applications for such permits as well as invitation letters will not be charged.
Workers of accredited media organizations will be able to use public transport in St. Petersburg and the Leningradskaya region free of charge during the competition period.
Address registration during UEFA Euro 2020
For the period of UEFA Euro 2020, the following categories of foreign nationals will not have to be registered:
- Foreign citizens and stateless persons participating in UEFA Euro 2020 events;
- Sportsmen; and
- FIFA representatives.
Currently, registration rules for other foreign citizens during UEFA Euro 2020 are not changed. During FIFA Cups 2017 and 2018, for security reasons, the rules were changed by presidential order. For example, during FIFA Cup 2018, all foreign citizens regardless of visa type were required to register address within three calendar days of arrival (including highly qualified specialists and their family members). Also, registrations through the Post Office were banned.
No amendments to this presidential order have been issued, although it is highly likely that in 2020 similar security measures will be introduced.
New State Fee Payment Certificate Requirements for Invitation Letters
According to the Internal Affairs Ministry Moscow office, as of May 27, 2019, documents for invitation letters are being accepted only with the state fee payment certificate showing that the fee has been paid directly from the inviting company's bank account.
It is not mandatory (but preferred) to provide the original payment certificate verified by the bank that made the transfer. It is allowed to provide the state fee payment certificate with the original inviting company's stamp. The full name of the invited person on the payment certificate is also required, but it is possible to enter the name by hand.
Also, the payment certificate can be filed not only with the application for the invitation letter but also when collecting the approved invitation letter, except when the application is filed for the so-called electronic invitation letter (when the immigration authority sends an approved electronic invitation letter directly to the consulate through official channels of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In such cases, the payment certificate should be filed exclusively with the application forms.
HIV Certificate Requirements
HIV Certificate requirements were recently approved by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health Order was registered by the Ministry of Justice on May 6, 2019. The document introduces the unified HIV Certificate template, which must be used from now on. Information in the Certificate will be presented both in Russian and in English. The validity remains the same, three months.
Iran—Simplification of Visa Formalities for Entrepreneurs
As of May 8, 2019, visa formalities for entrepreneurs have been simplified between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation. Previously, to confirm the purpose of the visit of an Iranian national to Russia, entrepreneurs and representatives of organizations of entrepreneurs had to obtain a letter from the inviting national association of manufacturers and entrepreneurs, such as the Trade and Industry Chamber or Russia Union of manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Now to confirm the purpose of such a visit, it is enough to get a letter from the inviting party (legal entity, its branch, government, or local authority).
As of May 13, 2019, Russian citizens can travel to Suriname without a visa and stay in that country for up to 90 calendar days. Suriname citizens can also travel to Russia visa-free and stay for up to 90 calendar days out of every 180 days. Citizens of one country who would like to stay or reside in the territory of the other country for more than 90 calendar days, or perform work or commercial activities, must apply for a visa.
Russia to Add Agency to List of Those Deciding on Desirability of Stay of Foreign Citizens
The Russian government will add the Federal Penalty Execution Service (FPES) to the list of governmental agencies that can issue decisions on the desirability of stay of foreign citizens in Russia (except for cases when such a decision is issued due to a threat to public health). The Ministry of Justice was charged with the task of issuing decisions on the desirability of stay of foreign citizens in Russia who committed serious crimes while staying in the country or who were in prison in Russia for committing such crimes. Now these rights will be transferred to the FPES as of January 1, 2020.
Residence Permit Process to be Simplified for Certain Foreign Nationals
A bill that introduces a simplified procedure for TRP (temporary residence permit) and PRP (permanent residence permit) applications for several categories of foreign nationals has been submitted to the State Duma for review. The State Duma representative confirmed that it intends to review the bill as a high priority.
Apart from amendments suggested earlier by the government in this area, such as Ukrainians receiving TRPs without the need to apply for the TRP quota place first, as well as shortening the application review period to four months, the bill makes clear one of the most popular bases for TRP application rejection: when a foreign national is confirmed to have spent more than six months outside of Russia. Thus, the bill provides that a TRP application will be rejected and an issued TRP will be annulled if a foreign national has spent more than six months in total outside of Russia during one calendar year (with an exception for cases when the foreign national could not leave the territory of the foreign country due to emergency medical treatment or serious illness, or death of a close relative, as well as for cases when a foreign national spent more time outside of Russia due to work).
Additionally, the bill provides for a foreign national to apply for the annulment of a TRP. At present, this procedure is not clarified by law, which leads to complexities in cases when, for example, a TRP holder has to work in another Russia region than the one where he or she was issued the TRP and apply for the work permit there. Ordinarily, a TRP holder can only perform work activities in the Russian region where he or she was issued the TRP.
The bill also introduces a list of categories of foreign citizens who have the right to apply for the PRP without the need to first file for the TRP and live for one year on its basis in Russia.
Economic Development Ministry Proposes Lowering Minimum Salary Level for Highly Qualified Specialists
To attract more qualified foreign labor, the Economic Development Ministry has proposed that a minimum salary level for HQS (Highly Qualified Specialists) should be lowered. At the moment, the minimum salary level, with exception of those working in special economic zones and scientific institutions, is 167,000 RUB gross per month.
The Ministry also proposed that one should be able to receive HQS status via the Internet on the basis of work experience information. Additionally, the Ministry would prefer that HQS be offered Russian citizenship without the need to renounce their current citizenship.
Finally, the Ministry has proposed that foreign nationals who graduated from Russian universities should be able to apply for Russian citizenship following a simplified procedure, again without the need to renounce their current citizenship.
Accreditation Card to Allow Visa-Free Entry for International Cultural Mass Events
A Ministry of Culture Order has introduced the accreditation card, which will allow participants in international cultural mass events to enter Russia visa-free for the defined period of such events. The list of the events during which visa-free travel is allowed is confirmed by the government, including:
- International Tchaikovsky Competition
- Saint-Petersburg International Cultural Forum
- Moscow International Education Salon
- International Championship «Worldskills»