The Agreement on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers and the Members of Their Families, entered into between the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation (the “Agreement”) has been in force since 1 January 2012. The Agreement is another step in simplifying Russia’s migration laws and creating favorable conditions for attracting foreign specialists, and the current system attests to the liberal nature of Russia’s policies. Under the conditions of gradually reforming migration legislation, the future direction of migration registration and regulation of the legal status of foreign citizens temporarily residing in the Russian Federation will be directly determined by the trends of migration dispersal.
The Agreement has simplified the hiring process first of all for citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan, while these rules have been in effect for a long time in respect of the citizens of Belarus. Specifically, under Decision No. 4 of the Supreme Council of Association of Belarus and Russia “On Equal Rights in Hiring, Pay, and Offering of Other Social and Labor Guarantees” dated 22 June 1996, this takes place commonly with the citizens of Belarus in order to attract them to work in the Russian Federation, without specific procedures included in the legislation of the Russian Federation on attracting and utilizing a foreign work force. The Agreement now also includes a similar procedure for Kazakhstan citizens to carry out labor activity without being required to file authorising documents.
According to the figures of the Central Bank of Russia, as taken from statistics on foreign citizens presented by the State migration registration information system of the Federal Migration Service of Russia, seven million foreign citizens entered the Russian Federation in the first half of 2011, of which 9.6% were Kazakhstan citizens. This means that Kazakhstan is third in the number of foreign citizens coming to the Russian Federation, following the citizens of Ukraine (21.8%) and Uzbekistan (15.6%).
Moreover, the number of people who wanted to immigrate to Russia from Kazakhstan as part of the state program on assisting compatriots who wish to immigrate voluntarily to the Russian Federation from abroad increased three-fold from May to September 2011, according to the figures of the temporary work force of the Federal Migration Service located in the consular section of the embassy of the Russian Federation in Kazakhstan.
The main provisions as established by the Agreement are as follows:
- an employer in a signatory country to the Agreement has the right to employ migrant workers without having to receive permission to attract and utilize a foreign workforce;
- migrant workers are permitted to perform labor activities in the signatory countries to the Agreement without having to receive permission to work;
- migrant workers and members of their families are not required to register their place of residence with the appropriate authorities for a period of 30 days from the date of entry to the territory of the country of employment;
- a migrant worker has the right to sign a new labor contract within 15 days of early termination of a labor contract, following the expiration of 90 days from the date of having entered the territory of the country of employment, including signing one with another employer under the terms and conditions stipulated by the laws of the country of employment; and
- the children of a migrant worker who are living under the same roof with said migrant worker on the territory of the country of employment have the right to attend preschool institutions of education and receive an education under the laws of the country of employment.
In addition, citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan are not subject to the yearly limit set by the Government of the Russian Federation on the permitted number of foreign employees in various sectors of the economy. For example, under the latest decree No. 1086 of the Government of the Russian Federation “On Setting the Allotted Number of Foreign Workers for 2012 in the Retail Sector and Sport Area on the Territory of the Russian Federation”, dated 22 December 2011, in 2012, retail companies selling alcoholic beverages and pharmaceutical products outside the space of stores, as well as in booths and at markets, are not allowed to hire foreign citizens. However, this rule does not apply to the citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Kazakhstan under the Agreement.
It was not by chance that the Agreement to simply migration legislation was signed particularly with the Republic of Kazakhstan, as Russia has strong economic ties with this country, as well as a large number of investment projects; therefore, signing the Agreement helps support business and continuing close collaboration. Kazakhstan is in the top ten of major trading partners with Russia. According to the statistics of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, the turnover of goods between Kazakhstan and Russia for 2011 could reach USD 20 billion (a 40% increase). Moreover, the Agreement is expected to promote the influx of a labor force from the Republic of Kazakhstan and eliminate the labor deficit that local employees are not able to fill.