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ACG Market Update: Visas & Work Permits

At the end of 2002, legislative changes were made in these areas and as the year closed, many were wondering if they were going to be trapped inside or outside of Russia as these changes were implemented.

Feb 06, 2003
The topics at the start of the year are visas and work permits. At the end of 2002, legislative changes were made in these areas and as the year closed, many were wondering if they were going to be trapped inside or outside of Russia as these changes were implemented. The situation is still waiting to play out, and officials in the embassies, ministries, and on the ground on the borders, still cannot say exactly when and how these laws will take effect.

Visas

The law "On Introducing Changes and Additions to the Federal Law 'On the Procedure of Exit and Entry from/to the Russian Federation'" was approved by the State Duma on 15 December 2002 and confirmed by Federation Council 27 December 2002. The more important date however, is its publication on 14 January 2003, as the law comes into force 3 months from this date.

Much of the text of this law is familiar to those who have been living with Russian visas. It outlines the types of visas and their duration, more clearly than in previous versions of the law.

Visa basics

The most significant changes to the law are the following:
  • Extension of visas while the foreigner is inside the Russian Federation. The procedure for doing so, however, is still not clear.
  • Multiple-entry work visas.
  • The right to refuse a foreigner entry into Russia if he cannot prove that he has enough financial resources to cover his expenses for the duration of his stay.
The Law "On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation" came into force on October 31, 2002 and replaces a 1981 USSR Law. It defines the legal status of foreigners in the Russian Federation and regulates conditions of their entry into and exit from Russia. It introduces some changes that require immediate attention.

Issuing visa support (registering with OVIR/UVIR)

Previously, registration to issue visa support was done at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) and subsequently at OVIR/UVIR. You may have already registered your company at MID and OVIR/UVIR and issued visas in the past, but you do indeed need to reregister with OVIR/UVIR. A local OVIR approves your company's application for the right to issue visa support to foreign citizens, after which you receive your registration card at the central UVIR. This registration must be extended annually.

Once you have your registration card, all further activity related to inviting foreign citizens, including visa support and registration of visas, is conducted with the central UVIR.

Migration cards

The Law introduces a migration card for the purposes of monitoring foreign citizens during their temporary stay. We have yet to learn of anyone actually receiving this card. Once implemented, the law states that it must be completed, registered, and finally submitted upon your departure. It is still not clear which organ will be responsible for the registration of this card. Officials have indicated informally that it will be the central UVIR.

The changes related to visas, including the upcoming migration cards, make it very important that the foreign visitor know the inviting (host) organization and how to reach them if necessary. The use of "purchased" visa support will likely become more unpredictable, with possible denial either at the visa issuance stage, or at the point of entry.

Work Permits

The Law also tightens the requirements for employment of foreign citizens. It clearly defines who is and is not required to have a work permit as well as the requirements and obligations of the employer.

Work permit basics

The most significant implications of the law are the following:
  • A work permit is now required not only for foreign employees working under standard employment agreements, but also for those providing services under civil law (services) contracts and entrepreneurs (freelancers).

  • As there is no clear exemption for foreign employees of representative offices (regardless of the structure of the contract), the Law implies that work permits must be obtained for such individuals. At the same time, officials responsible for the issuance of work permits informally state that accreditation may be sufficient.

  • Elimination of the "simplified procedure" that previously applied to foreign employees at a managerial level in companies with foreign investment - "highly qualified specialists."
As implementation of these laws takes effect, we will provide updates. If you would like to be sure to receive updates of this nature, we invite you to subscribe. If you have questions regarding your current legal status as an employee or employer, contact us directly.
Alinga Consulting Group
Tel/Fax: +7 (095) 424-7988
Email: consult@acg.ru
Web: www.acg.ru