Following Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and various policy developments, the law governing the engagement of foreign employees in Russia has undergone several changes.

  • From 10 January 2014 a new work permit procedure has been available to employees who have worked for at least one year for a company registered in a WTO member-state (WTO Company) and who have been appointed the head of that WTO Company’s Russian subsidiary, branch or representative office, provided the business of the latter and the employee is of a specified type. The procedure is similar to the regime for highly qualified specialists (HQS) as there is no requirement for the employer to obtain an employment permit and the employee’s work permit can have an extended term of up to three years. Unlike for HQS, there is no requirement for a minimum salary for employees of RUB 2 million.
  • From 1 January 2015 most foreign employees (except for HQS and certain other categories of employees) will be obliged to confirm their knowledge of Russian language, history and law in order to obtain or renew a work permit. A foreign employee will have to submit to the migration authorities either a Russian school or high school diploma or a current special certificate confirming the required knowledge (these will be valid for five years). This must be done within 30 days of the work permit’s issuance, failing which the permit will be cancelled.

Actions for employers

When engaging employees from WTO Companies, we recommend assessing the advantages and disadvantages of following either the HQS regime or the new work permit procedure and using the most suitable regime.

As for the knowledge confirmation requirement, we recommend Russian employers to either engage foreign employees as HQS (with a minimum salary of RUB 2 million) or make sure that the new requirements are fulfilled (eg, by requesting the relevant confirmation documents from the employee).