RUSSIA – Upcoming Changes to Standard Work Permits
1 January 2015 will be a big day for Russian immigration. In addition to the changes to the Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit system, which we covered in an alert earlier this week, major changes are coming to the standard work permit system for Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nationals, introducing a new system of "work patents".
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 some minor amendments to the notification requirements for holders of standard work permits who are nationals of countries requiring a visa to enter Russia.
Work permits for CIS nationals are to be replaced with a new system of work patents, effective 1 January 2015. Following entry into the country, where any CIS nationals intending to work should state this on their migration cards, the applicant should then 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, and 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.
Effective 1 January 2015, Federal Law number 357-FL of 24 November 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 labour 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.
Since none of the above developments will affect the Highly Qualified Specialists (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 are granted the right to sponsor HQS work permits from 1 January 2015, see our recent alert.
- Companies employing, or considering employing, CIS nationals in Russia should note carefully the new work patent system, and contact our partners in Russia, Vista Foreign Business Support, for further details and advice.
- Be aware of the upcoming Russian knowledge examinations for standard work permit and work patent applicants and contact our partners in Russia, Vista Foreign Business Support, for further details and advice.
- Consider the HQS category if the applicant salary can be raised to 2 000 000 RUB.
- Ensure that the Federal Migration Service is correctly notified of the hiring or dismissal of a visa national standard work permit holder within three business days from the day of signing or termination of the labour agreement, to avoid a hefty fine.