Recent amendments to Russian law have opened up employment opportunities for foreign employees whilst simultaneously creating harsher sanctions for foreign employees who breach their visas.

  • Business visas

Five year business visas will now be available for foreign employees of both “major” foreign companies which are investing in Russia and foreign companies which are participating in government projects (e.g. Skolkovo). These are subject to the requirement that a specially designated authority must make an additional petition on behalf of such “major” foreign company to the Russian authority responsible for migration issues, in order for the visa to be granted. The Russian government will determine the requirements for a foreign company to be considered “major” as well as which authority will make petitions on behalf of foreign companies.

  • Work permits

The requirement that foreigners with temporary residence permits wishing to work in Russia first obtain work permits, and that the companies which engage them obtain employment permits, has been eliminated. Previously, this exemption was only available to foreigners with permanent residence permits.

  • Sanctions

Where an employer misrepresents the real reason for a foreign employee’s visit or where the employer fails to provide the foreign employee with financial or medical support or accommodation, they may be subject to fines of up to RUB 500,000 (approximately USD 16,300).

Entry rules have also been toughened. Where a foreigner overstays their visa by more than 30 days, they will be automatically banned from entering Russia for the next 3 years, other than in certain exceptional circumstances (e.g. serious illness, acts of God, etc.).

Action for employers

Employers should be aware of the new obligations relating to employing foreigners and make sure they compy with them. Employers are also advised to inform their foreign employees that they may be refused entry into Russia if they overstay their visas.