Russia at a Glance
Work Permits for RussiaiStockphoto
Oil and other natural resources are important cornerstones of the nation's economy.
Securing a Work Permit: Employers’ Responsibilities
Russia’s immigration and foreign labor regulations are rather complicated and time consuming both for expats and their employers. You are well advised to plan ahead!
The first steps are entirely the responsibility of your employer and require their Human Resources department to plan well in advance. Almost a full year before actually hiring an expat, companies operating in Russia have to apply for corporate work permits for their future foreign employees. In the application, they are required to state both the position they intend to fill as well as the nationality of the expat. This information is binding: A company who has permission to employ an engineer from Italy cannot hire one from Taiwan instead.
The deadline for the foreign labor needs forecast is May 1st. Companies are informed how many and which of their applications have been accepted in the following months, usually in summer. As Russia has a quota system limiting the number of work permits issued for a year, not every application is successful. In 2013, the foreign labor quota for the entire country is 410,126.
Once the corporate work permit is secured, your employer has to apply for and secure your personal work permit. It surely does not come as a surprise that this permit only allows you to take up the specific job it was issued for. You can neither take up the same position at a different company nor work for a subsidiary of your company in another region in Russia. However, if your contract includes working in different parts of the country, your employer has to complete each part of the application for every region you will be working in. Needless to say that this will cause delays.
Acquiring Work Visa and Final Red Tape
Now it’s your turn. After receiving a letter of invitation from your employer, you can apply for a work visa at your nearest Russian consulate or embassy. They will also supply you with a list of all necessary documents. Always keep in mind not to accidentally apply for a business visa, as this is an entirely different category in Russian immigration law!
Within three days of your arrival, you need to register your address with the migration services. Luckily, your employer usually takes the responsibility of notifying local authorities. Your company also needs to notify the labor and tax authorities about your employment.
The work visa you acquired from your local embassy is limited to three months. Please check with the immigration authorities in Russia for an extension of your work visa, which is commonly issued for the duration of one year. This is a crucial step: Never forget to keep all permits and visas valid, as failure to do so is not lightly tolerated in Russia.
Work Visa Exemptions
Not every employer and employee has to go through the entire process, though: There are work permit exemptions for employees in a number of fields. The most significant exemption for expats interested in staying in Russia for a longer period of time than, for example, for the montage and upkeep of machinery, is the newly introduced work visa category for highly-qualified professionals. Not only does this new category speed things up considerably, as there are no quota restrictions for highly-qualified professionals; it is also quite lucrative. To qualify for this permit, foreign specialists must be compensated with no less than 2 million rubles per year. The permit can be issued for up to three years.
As an expat, or rather non-resident, in Russia, you will be taxed on your income from Russian sources at a rate of 30%. However, you will be considered a resident under Russian taxation law if you spend at least 183 days in a 12-month period in the country. Then, all income, including that from non-Russian sources, will be taxed at a rate of 13%. The highly-qualified professionals are once again an exceptional category: With this permit, you are eligible for the standard tax rate for residents from the beginning.