RUSSIA – Changes to Highly Qualified Specialist Program
There are upcoming changes to Russia’s quota-exempt Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit program.
Starting 1 January 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. Federal Law No. 106-FZ dated 5 May 2014 has changed the accreditation procedure for representative offices of foreign legal entities operating in Russia and extended the HQS to such companies. Further details of how representative offices should register as such within Russia for the purposes of the HQS program have yet to be confirmed.
Registered IT companies will soon be able to engage foreign nationals on the HQS program with a lower minimum salary of one million rubles (about USD28,000 or EUR21,000). This is half of the standard minimum salary normally required to qualify for the HQS program. This change came into force at the end of June 2014, but has yet to be put into practice by Russian officials. Further details and an implementation date are expected soon, and there may be processing delays as officials get used to the new rules. Registration of IT companies at the Russian Ministry for Communications and Mass Media is an established procedure, and many companies are already registered there.
What is the Highly Qualified Specialist Program?
The Highly Qualified Specialist (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. Please contact us for more details.
- Note that representative offices will be able to use the HQS from January 2015.
- Note the new lower minimum salary requirement for IT companies to employ workers on the HQS program.