Important Changes in Russian Immigration Law

April 3, 2015 — The first quarter of 2015 has seen significant changes in immigration process and policy in the Russian Federation for both Russians living abroad as well as for foreign companies and employees functioning in the country.

New Process for Dual Citizenship or Foreign Permanent Residence for Russian Nationals
Russian citizens are now obligated to notify the Federal Migration service if they are granted dual citizenship or a residence permit or other document authorizing permanent residence by another country abroad. The rule went into effect on August 4, 2014 and applies to all Russian citizens with the exception of those who permanently reside abroad. Likewise, if the Russian national had already obtained the dual citizenship or permanent residence prior to the aforementioned date, a notification to the migration service is still required.

It is important to note that the notification was previously required to be presented in person. Legal representatives could not submit the notification on the assignees behalf except in cases of the disabled or minors under 18 years of age, in which the notification could be made by official post office or pursuant to the assignee’s local address registration. This process proved to be inefficient and inconvenient for those abroad who could not make a personal appearance.

In an effort to streamline the process and make it more convenient for persons living overseas, effective December 31, 2014, Federal Law #507 amended the process to allow the dual citizenship or foreign permanent residence notification to be made by a legal representative of the assignee, requiring a notarized power of attorney and copy of the representative’s passport. The notification can be made either via the federal migration service or post office.

Furthermore, it is now also possible to submit a retroactive notification if an assignee had not done so before due to distance. Per the new amendment, the assignee may submit the notification in person or by post within 30 days of arrival in Russia, and it will not be deemed a violation or delayed dismissal.

Change to Salary Payment to Highly Qualified Specialists
Traditionally, the standard and most crucial requirement for company sponsors of Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit holders was the minimum yearly salary of 2,000,000 RUB. This requirement permitted substantial flexibility to the host companies in which they could accumulate that amount within an entire year’s duration by adding salary, bonuses, and other payments or allowances to equal 2,000,000 RUB by the end of the 365 days.

However, a new regulation, Federal Law #56, which was passed on March 8, 2015 and will become effective April 24, 2015, now mandates that the sponsoring employer company must pay a minimum salary of 167,000 RUB per month, i.e. the monthly pay cannot be less and any outstanding amount cannot be paid later.

Another critical aspect of the law is that even if a HQS worker is on sick leave, paid or unpaid vacation, or maternity leave, and does not fulfill his or her work obligations as required, the employer company may not stop compensation; and the minimum 167,000 RUB must still be met.

As the new rule has not yet gone into force, its implementation, enforcement, and penalties are yet to be monitored.

New Rules and Application for Employment Contract Signing and Dismissal of Foreign Workers
Federal Law #640, effective February 3, 2015, clarified the process for notification of the signing of employment contracts between Russian host companies and foreign workers as well as the termination of such employment contracts.

Sub-clause 8, clause 13 indicates that the process applies to any type of signed work contract (labor or civil) as well as to all types of foreign employees (highly qualified specialist and standard work permit holders, patent or CIS nationals who do not require a work permit, and even those with a Russian residence permit or permanent residence).

Within three business days of contract signing or termination, the notification must be submitted directly to the Federal Migration service via personal appearance, not by post. The new forms for contract signing request extensive and specific assignee details and documentation including address registration, work permit, and migration card. As a result, they cannot always be completed once signed as all of the information is not yet available.

The Federal Migration service is still in the midst of the revising the form. In the interim, it is recommended that employers submit two notifications: one within three days of the contract signing ensuring that as much information is included as possible, and other once the employee obtains his or her work permit so that all required information is ultimately provided to the authorities.

New Changes in Accreditation of Foreign Company Representative Offices and Branches
2015 has shown new rules that now require the local branches and representative offices of foreign companies in Russia to attain proper accreditation. Specifically, required documents should be filed with the Federal Tax Authority #47 by April 1, 2015. Before such date, the Russian Chamber of Commerce should receive documents from the companies verifying the total number of their foreign workers.

Companies seeking accreditation by the State Registration Chamber should take special note as this body is no longer involved in immigration processes. Local branches and offices who had initial registration with the SRC, should, however, still submit their rosters of foreign employees to the Chamber of Commerce for review. Once the list is verified, it, along with the main corporate documents and application, are forwarded to the Federal Tax Authority in order to be added to the register of accredited branches. As soon as all documents are accepted by the Federal Tax Authority, the accreditation takes approximately 8-10 days to complete.

For purposes of immigration, the government body now in charge of relevant procedures and issuing documents to representative offices and branches will now be the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber highly recommends that all documents be submitted in a timely manner. For more information, please visit: http://tpprf.ru/ru/services/businessdevelopment/#vzaimodejstvie-sfilialami-i-predstavitel-stvami-inofirm.

*AIReS worked with Move One Inc. in preparation of this bulletin. This document contains information contributed by Move One and is intended for informational purposes only. This summary does not constitute legal advice nor should it be a substitute for specific legal advice in any situation.

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