Russia to ease immigration rules for skilled workers and graduates
Posted on August 7, 2013
Russia is developing a new approach to immigration policy. According to Federal Migration Service (FMS) Director Konstantin Romodanovsky, the focus is shifting away from existing legislation, which is geared towards temporary immigrants, towards creating conditions for attracting highly skilled specialists. A points-based permanent residence system will be one of the tools to achieve this aim.
According to FMS estimates, Russia is home to 800,000 resident aliens, far fewer than in European countries. Most immigrants come to Russia from the former Soviet Union countries, as well as from Turkey, China and Vietnam. There are also around 3.5 million illegal foreign workers in Russia – twice the number of legal workers. To change the structure of immigration, the agency has drafted a number of bills that have already passed expert examinations by the Russian government.
FMS Director said the system of foreign worker quotas would be the first to be revised. At present, the quotas are allocated to companies that are willing to hire foreigners in the first place. The proposed new system will change hiring rules. A vacancy will be offered to the region’s residents during the first month, to all Russians during the second month, and only after that it will be offered to foreigners.
The authorities want to introduce a kind of fairness by giving potential local employees the right of first refusal. But this is just a proposal at this point; what shape the quota system will eventually take will be decided only in the beginning of next year.
Also, under the FMS plans, foreigners will have to apply for a temporary resident status after staying in the country for 90 days. This is similar to the existing ‘temporary residence permit’. Qualified specialists will be granted the status for two years, while highly skilled immigrants (those earning upwards of 2 million roubles – equivalent to roughly $60,000 a year) will be given three-year residence permits. FMS territorial branches will be responsible for issuing the permits, which will look like a visa and will be placed into passports.
Foreign students of Russian universities will be allowed to work, officials said. Graduates of higher education institutions will be offered an opportunity to stay in Russia for three years. If a graduate’s qualifications are in demand, they will be able to obtain Russian citizenship.
In yet another relief, foreigners will get the right to register at the place of residence. This will be only a right and not an obligation, Romodanovsky explained.
Residence permits will be granted under a points-based system. The Federal Migration Service will take into account the age, education and work experience of applicants. Both temporary foreign visitors and permanent residents, including participants of the relocation of compatriots programme, will be asked to fill a questionnaire about their education, age, Russian language proficiency, work history, job offers from Russian employers and relatives in Russia.
Each application will receive a points score. To obtain legal status in Russia, applicants have to score 75 points out of 100. At present, to apply for a Russian residence permit, foreigners must first obtain a temporary residence permit and stay in the country for between one and three years in that status. The new form will simplify the procedure. Experts note however that for anyone over the age of 55 scoring the required amount of points will be extremely difficult.Vladimir Burov, Deputy Head of the FMS Citizenship Division, said that investors and entrepreneurs doing business in Russia would get fast-tracked for Russian citizenship.
“The government will draw a list of business activities the Russian state is interested in. The minimum annual revenue must be 10 million roubles,” Burov explained. The dependants of entrepreneurs will get the same privileges, but nannies or housekeepers that work in such families full time will have to go through the immigration process just like everybody else.
According to the authorities, the main immigration related problems are visa overstays and violations of Russian law by immigrants. The offenders will now be subject to harsher penalties. Before, they were either fined or deported; now both penalties will apply. Administrative offences will serve as grounds for deportation or inadmissibility; a court will make the decision. Tax offences will be vigorously prosecuted too.
August 2, 2013
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