On January 01, 2014, new amendments came into force relating to foreign citizens who live in the Russian Federation and work through branches, representative offices and subsidiaries of foreign business entities incorporated in countries who are members of the World Trade Organization. 

The Federal Law No. 115-FZ dated July 25, 2002, «On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens» was supplemented by Article 13.5 establishing the conditions of and procedure for obtaining work permits for foreigners who have been employed by foreign business entities incorporated in countries being members of the WTO and who wish to live in the territory of Russia.

 The provisions of the above-mentioned article allow foreign citizens to obtain invitations for entry and work permits notwithstanding the annual quota and normal preliminary authorization requirements, upon the condition that such employees are directed to work (render services) in:

  • representative offices of foreign business entities incorporated in a WTO member state and duly accredited in the Russian Federation;
  • branches of foreign business entities incorporated in a WTO member state and duly accredited in the Russian Federation for the purposes of the provision of services; or
  • Russian legal entities being subsidiaries of foreign business entities incorporated in a WTO member state and the activities of which according to their constituent documents are associated with provision of services.

Essential Requirements and Restrictions 

For foreign employees who work in the Russian Federation through a representative office of a foreign company whose registered address is located in a country which is a member state of the WTO:

  • the total number of such foreign employees shall not exceed 5 persons, and for representative offices of banking institutions this shall be 2 persons, within the limits agreed with the competent accrediting body; and
  • such foreign employees shall have at least 1 year experience of paid employment in the parent business entity before the date when they begin their employment in the Russian Federation.

Foreign citizens assigned to fill vacancies of managers in Russian legal entities or branches:

  • shall have at least 1 year experience of paid employment in the parent business entity before the date when they begin their employment in the Russian Federation.

Foreign citizens who are employees involved in the provision of services in the Russian Federation and highly qualified for providing appropriate services through subsidiaries or branches located on the Russian territory (hereinafter referred to as an «HQS»):

  • shall have at least 1 year experience of paid employment in the parent business entity before the date when they begin their employment in the Russian Federation; and
  • shall receive a salary (remuneration) under authority of an employment agreement (a civil law contract to execution of works (provision of services)) for an amount equal to or exceeding 2,000,000 RUR for the 1 year period (365 calendar days).

On application of the employer, the foreign citizens will obtain a work permit for the whole period of their agreement (contract). The validity of the permit must not exceed a period of three years. This term of validity can be renewed from time to time in line with the term of validity of their employment agreement (contract), but it may not be extended by more than three years per renewal. 

In the event that such foreign citizens work in the territory of more than one constituent entity of the Russian Federation, they can obtain a work permit which is valid across the multiple entities concerned. 

The foreign citizens who meet the requirements above, and following an application from their employer (being a legal entity), will obtain a simple work multi visa which is issued for the whole period of their employment agreement (civil law contract). As mentioned above, this term will not exceed three years from the date of their entry into the territory of the Russian Federation but it has the possibility of being prolonged for a further period of three years (but never more than three years per each extension), should their employment agreement also be renewed. 

It should also be noted that general foreign employees have much less preferences than the HQSs mentioned above. For instance, unlike HQSs they do not enjoy the advantages of the simplified procedure for obtaining a residence permit, they have no right to be employed by another employer and remain to work in Russia subject to the same conditions in the case of dissolution of their employment agreement. 

We would also draw your attention to the fact that in practice there exist some technical difficulties associated with exercise of this right to obtain a work permit in accordance with the simplified procedure.