Work permits for foreigners and expats in Russia

06.06.2016

To work in Russia, a foreigner is required to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Inferior Affairs.

The Russian law, i,e, the Federal Law No. 115-FZ of 25 July 2012 on the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation, provides for different types of work permits that are suitable in different circumstances depending on the employee’s position, experience and qualification, term of employment, as well as citizenship.

Below you will find a brief summary of the options available for foreigners when taking up employment in Russia, for example, in a subsidiary of a foreign corporation.

Ordinary work permit

The ordinary work permit can be obtained for any position of employment without regard to the employee’s salary.

However, in order to obtain the work permit, the employer must first apply for a permit to employ a foreigner. In common speech, the permit to employ a foreigner is often referred to as “quota”, as the government annually determines the number of foreigners that can be hired by Russian organizations. The deadline for applying for quota is usually in the end of May of the previous year, meaning that in this case hiring a foreigner requires some planning ahead. Once the employer has been granted “quota”, the employer may proceed with applying for the employees work permit. Please note though that certain managerial positions, such as the general director position, does not require that quota has been obtained.

To obtain the ordinary work permit, the employee is required to undergo medical tests and a test in the Russian language, history and basics of the Russian law. The employer or the employee are also required to take a voluntary health insurance for the employee.
The ordinary work permit is issued for a maximum term of one year and is valid within specific regions in Russia, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg. It is also limited to a specific profession or activity.

Highly qualified specialist

The work permit for a highly qualified specialist is intended for those employees that have professional experience and knowledge that cannot necessarily retrieved in Russia.

Employing a highly qualified specialist is not subject to quota restrictions, meaning that the employer does not need to apply for a permit to employ a highly qualified specialist prior to filing the work permit application. Further, a highly qualified specialist is not required to take the medical tests or the test in Russian language, history and basics in legislation. However, the annual salary of the highly qualified specialist must not be less than two million rubles, which equals approximately EUR 26 700 at the exchange rate 75,00 or USD 30 300 at the exchange rate 66,00.

The law does not establish any specific requirements to the experience or education of a highly qualified specialist, although a higher level of education can be considered required.

The work permit of a highly qualified specialist is issued for the term of the employment agreement, however, not for a term exceeding three years.

WTO permit

The WTO permit is intended for employees working in representative offices, branches or subsidiaries of corporations residing in a WTO member state. The permit can be applied for in case the employee:

- Undertakes a position in the management of the representative office;
- Is appointed head of the branch or subsidiary; or
- Is paid an annual salary of no less than two million rubles.

The WTO permit is not subject to quota restrictions, meaning that the employer does not need to apply for a permit to employ a foreigner. The employee is, however, required to have worked for the foreign organization for a term of no less than one year prior to commencement of the employment in Russia. The employee is further required to undergo a test in the Russian language, history and basics of the Russian law.

The WTO permit is issued for the term of the employment agreement, however, not for a term exceeding three years.

Patent

Citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Ukraine may apply for an employment patent, which is, roughly said, a simplified version of the ordinary work permit but without quota requirements.

MK-Law gladly assists with obtaining work permits for your foreign employees.

Further information and inquiries:

Jan Långstedt
Partner, attorney
Tel.: +358400538022
Email: jan.langstedt@mklaw.fi