Fast Track – For Some
Text by Timur Beslangurov
VISTA Foreign Business
In the past (November and December) few issues of Passport magazine, we described some of the complexities of current Russian migratory legislation and the need for change. Change for the better is coming; however it is no secret that any change associated with the Russian Migration Service takes rather a long time. In this article, I would like to draw your attention to such changes that will affect citizens of certain countries such as France and Germany who enjoy some privileges in regard to the visa and work permit regime.
Russia and France signed a bilateral, inter-governmental agreement on the 27th of November 2009 to simplify and therefore ease the requirements for entrance, stay and work in Russia for French nationals and vice versa. The agreement covers employees working for foreign representatives (affiliates) – citizens of one country working in representative offices of foreign legal entities located in the other country; employees working for companies of the same group; company directors – citizens of a foreign country who manage the company’s activity staying in the other country; highly qualified specialists – citizens who fulfil two of the following three criteria: that they are degree-holders corresponding to the occupied position, that they have no less than five years’ experience in this position or that their salaries are no less than 3,200 Euro a month, although this last point has yet to be confirmed.
The agreement will be ratified in no less than 6 months time, and introduces a liberal migration regime almost unheard of in Russia. Thus, French representative companies in Russia will still have to apply for work permits for their staff not under the quota system. Usually, the number of work permits issued is strictly limited and companies have to apply for the number of permits they need before the 1st of May of the preceding year. This rule will not be applicable any more. It will also no longer be necessary for employers to have to prove that they cannot find suitable unemployed Russians who could do their jobs. Work permits which will be given to such people will be valid for the whole of Russia, not just for Moscow or St. Petersburg. Multi-entry work visas will be issued by the Diplomatic post / Consular organisation and valid for a year at a time and extendable to three years. Valid French medical documents will be recognised in Russia. And, last but not the least, the necessity of registering in different Russian cities when travelling is to be lifted if the length of stay in each city is no more than 10 days.
However it should be added that this is not the only inter-governmental agreement with a European government. In 2004 an agreement: ‘Agreement between the governments of the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany on the easing of travelling restrictions between the two countries for Russian and German citizens,’ came into force. The agreement introduced the following privileges for entrepreneurs and members of business circles of the two countries:
Chambers of commerce can apply for multi-e ntry visas up to 5 years for their members without the need for an invitation; a stipulation that is usually demanded of all German government officials. The period of stay in this case is limited to 180 days within a year.
The agreement covers German commercial organisations, or their daughter companies in the Russian Federation, and members of their families (travellers of this category can stay in Russia for two years without having to leave).
Russian or German citizens, having obtained a temporary residence permit, can enter or leave the respective countries without a visa.
This agreement with Germany, unlike the above mentioned agreement with France, is not concerned with questions such as labour laws.
Adopting these agreements must be taken as a positive step forward in the regulation of Russia’s migration policy. We feel that these laws are a good way to solve real visa and work permit problems, and a good example for solving migration problems with citizens of other countries which invest in Russia.